Frequently Asked Questions

How long has the service been based at Kensington?

Since 1988.

Why can’t the service remain at Kensington?

Our lease with Whangarei District Council expires in July 2023.

Are there other reasons you need to move?

Yes – we have simply outgrown our Kensington base. We now have 3 operational aircraft and 25 staff operating at the base. It is too small.

Our existing base is also adjacent to a busy sports field which we often use for approach and departure from/to the base. 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?

No – 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.

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 Choppers?

We realise that our move to Onerahi will bring some disturbance to residents living in the area, and we are truly sorry about that. 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 neighbourhood. 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, 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 & public, and comply (fully) 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?

No. Only when engines are infrequently required by law to be operated after a part of the helicopter has been repaired or replaced (to test them before the helicopter is allowed to fly again). This engine running will be kept to the minimum time required and conducted between the hours of 8am and 5pm whenever possible. This activity is controlled by noise regulations in the WDC District Plan.

How do I make a complaint about helicopter noise?

Whangarei District Council have advised that they will be re-establishing the Whangarei Airport Noise Committee in February 2022. Until then, it is recommended that any noise complaints be directed to WDC via the Airport Manager.

How will the helicopter noise be minimized?

The helicopters will be operated in a neighbourly manner provided this can be conducted safely and effectively. We will be looking at what initiatives we can employ at the airport with design and procedures to reduce noise emission.

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

No. 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 rescue and medical aircraft only.