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Our airport over time 

Christchurch Airport began life as an aerodrome at Harewood in 1936, an era when wooden biplanes were a common sight and a flight from Fiji to Brisbane took a full 20 hours!


By 1946 the terminal was starting to take shape, with hangars, a small terminal, the water tower and some barracks. The two runways and parallel taxiway concept was established in the early 1950s and in 1960 a new terminal building was in operation.

Since then, there has been continuous development of airport buildings, parking, roading and runway/taxiway/apron systems – and it’s a journey which continues to grow and unfold.

  • 1935 Christchurch City Council chooses the present site at Harewood.
  • 1936 227 hectares of land are purchased.
  • 1937 A 915 metre runway and 60 square metre terminal are constructed.
  • 1940 "Harewood Airport" opens for commercial flying.
  • 1948 260 hectares of additional land is purchased.
  • 1950 Christchurch Airport becomes New Zealand’s first international airport.
  • 1955 United States Antarctic Operations begin in Christchurch.
  • 1960 A new 6,000 square metre terminal opens.
  • 1962 The main runway is extended to 2,442 metres to enable commercial jet operations.
  • 1965 Arrival of the first scheduled commercial jet flight. 
  • 1966 An international wing is added to the domestic terminal.
  • 1975 Extensions to the domestic terminal are completed, extending the total floor space to 16,000 square metres.
  • 1980 A new international arrivals hall is completed, providing an additional 2,800 square metres of floor space.
  • 1984 The main runway is extended by 845 metres to 3,287 metres.
  • 1987 The terminal is extended to accommodate Ansett New Zealand and Air New Zealand lounges and domestic airbridges.
  • 1988 Christchurch International Airport Limited is established as a company, owned 75% by the Christchurch City Council and 25% by the New Zealand Government.
  • 1989 The international arrival area is extended by 1,100 square metres and airbridges and associated  facilities of 1,000 square metres are added.
  • 1998 The new international terminal building is completed, creating an additional 28,000 square metres of floor space.
  • 2001 The international terminal is expanded to create two new international gates.
  • 2004 Further expansion adds five more international stands and four more international airbridges to the international terminal.
  • 2007 The terminal development project begins.
  • 2009 Construction begins on the new integrated terminal and the Airways air traffic control tower opens.
  • 2013 The new integrated terminal building is officially opened.
  • 2017 Christchurch Airport shares the Master Plan for future infrastructure – ‘Vision 2040’.
  • 2018 Christchurch Airport is the only New Zealand airport selected by travellers as a winner of a World Airport Award.
  • 2018 Christchurch Airport welcomes a record 6.8 million passengers through its terminal in a single year.