Frequently Asked Questions

How long has the service been based at Kensington?

Since 1988.


Why cant the service remain at Kensington?

We have outgrown our Kensington base. We have 2 operational aircraft and in the process of procuring a third aircraft to replace the old S76A model.  We have grown and have approximately 45 staff operating at the base.

Our existing base is adjacent to a busy sports field which we often use for approach and departure. We would prefer to have an approach/departure area which was controlled with no people or property in the immediate vicinity.


Why have you chosen Whangarei Airport as your most likely place to relocate to?

The Whangārei Airport is the most natural fit for an aviation-based activity such as ours. It allows us to meet full compliance with civil aviation regulations in almost all-weather conditions, which is a priority for a rescue service such as ours.


Is it a done deal?

Whangarei District Council has agreed in principle to NEST’s relocation to the airport, but we are still in negotiations over the exact location and layout of any future base. The Court hearing is complete and should present a verdict by November 2023.


What are you going to do about noise?

Whangarei District Council has indicated that it will look to reform the Whangarei Airport Noise Management Committee, and NEST will fully co-operate with this committee and any concerned residents over its activities at the airport.


Why should Onerahi residents have to put up with noise from the Northland Rescue Helicopters?

We realise that our move to Onerahi will bring some disturbance to residents living in the immediate vicinity.  NEST is an organisation which was established to help our community, and we remain supported and partially funded by the community. We do try wherever possible, to work with local residents to reduce the impact of our operations in their neighbourhoods. We have a “Fly Neighbourly” programme established which looks to find ways to help us reduce noise and emissions without compromising safety or effectiveness. This programme has been in place for several years now at Kensington Base, and has had a positive impact with our neighbours in the area.


Have you looked at other sites around Whangarei?

NEST has been looking at alternative locations for our base for quite some time. The project has been fully scoped and multiple locations were identified and investigated to consider the various factors for our operational activity. Unfortunately, we can’t simply move the base to a remote location away from Whangarei. The base needs to be close to Whangarei Hospital, have clear approach & departure paths, offer good operational safety for crew and public, and be compliant with civil aviation regulations.


Why weren’t other sites suitable?

We considered several other locations in both semi-rural and industrial areas of Whangarei, and the short-listed sites were all properly assessed including on site discussions with CAA around how we might perform our operations. For each of those other sites, the properties had drawbacks around the selection criteria. Based on attributes, the Whangarei Airport still offers the best operational compliance of all the sites we considered.


How many times a week will the helicopter be flying in and out?

On average we fly 4 missions in a 24-hour period.


How many times a week will the helicopter be flying at night?

Approximately one fourth of our flights are at night-time.


Will the helicopters be running their engines for long periods of time at night?

Rarely and only when unscheduled maintenance occurs, to enable us to test fly the helicopter before bringing it back into service.   The majority of engine running is between the hours of 8am and 5pm. This activity is controlled by noise regulations in the WDC District Plan.


How do I make a complaint about helicopter noise?

Any complaints you have regarding operations of the rescue helicopter service needs to be directed to the Whangarei District Council.


How will the helicopter noise be minimized?

The helicopters will be operated in a neighbourly manner as outlined in the “Fly Neighbourly” programme, provided this can be conducted safely and effectively.


Will all the helicopter flight training be carried out at the airport?

We will be moving as much training as possible away from the airport.


Are the rescue helicopters also hired out to private people/companies?

No, they are only ever used for rescue and medical flights.


Will non rescue helicopters use the new base?

No, the base is for use by the Northern Rescue Helicopter Service only.