Strong winds and poor visibility disrupted flights in and out of Queenstown Airport yesterday.
Airport communications manager Jen Andrews said the wind was ”really howling” for a short time in the morning.
Otago Daily Times reporter Guy Williams was on flight NZ5383 from Christchurch, which was forced to turn back, after leaving on time at 8.20am.
Passengers waited in Christchurch until late afternoon.
The flight arrived in Queenstown about 5pm.
Flight NZ619 from Auckland was diverted to Dunedin and passengers were driven to Queenstown.
Corresponding return flights from Queenstown were cancelled.
Andrews says flights were delayed because winds were far too strong.
“Ideally, you want the wind coming down the runway, so that you land with the wind and take off with the wind. When it deviates from that axis and you get crosswinds, that’s when it gets hard.”
Airport chief executive Scott Paterson says the airport and airlines worked hard to minimise inconvenience to travellers.
“We operate in an alpine resort and disruptions during major weather events will happen.”
Air New Zealand operated an additional return service yesterday between Auckland and Queenstown to accommodate passengers from flights cancelled over the weekend due to the weather.
A fire alarm, requiring the terminal to be evacuated, caused a short delay for passengers being processed for international flights about 6pm yesterday.
Passengers and staff were allowed back in the terminal after being given the all-clear from the Fire Service.
No flights were affected.