$5.5m extension to runway end soon to take-off

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A whopping 30,000 truckloads of dirt later, Queenstown Airport’s mammoth runway end extension is almost complete. 

The giant eastern runway end safety area (Resa) – one of the country’s biggest earthworks projects – just needs a one-metre-high layer of fill added to the top before it’ll be clear for take-off. 

The $5.5 million project has required more than a million cubic metres of fill – equating to 150 one-metre high rugby fields stacked on top of each other. That’s more than the 800,000 cubic metres of concrete that went into building the Clyde Dam. 

“It’s probably the largest earthworks in New Zealand in many years. We’re expecting to top-out at the end of next week,” QAC boss Steve Sanderson says. 

The fill has been compacted to extend the existing natural riverbank above the Shotover Delta in accordance with Civil Aviation Authority requirements. 

QAC needed to have the Resa – a buffer area beyond the runway for under-shooting or over-shooting aircraft – extended by 90m to ensure it remains an international airport. The deadline is October. 

Sanderson says the Resa is built like a giant layer cake. 

Gravel, silt and fill taken from Remarkables Park land, QAC land and the river bed form the 240m-by-240m base, climbing to a 90m-by-90m top. 

Using 12 GPS-assisted Moxy mining trucks, Fulton Hogan workers and engineers have spent the past 18 months building the Resa. As they near the top, staff work from 7pm to 7am so construction doesn’t interrupt flights. 

“It took longer to get the resource consent than it did to actually construct it,” Sanderson adds. 

Over the next month, finishing touches – like digging in 5000 native plants to the value of $450,000 – will be undertaken. The Resa even has weed matting and irrigation to assist growth. 

QAC’s western Resa, including an $800,000 jet blast fence, was completed last December.