Evans Bay, New Zealand
Evans Bay was the preferred flying boat alighting area in Wellington Harbour during the 1930s and local officials promoted it through the decade as such. Visits from Imperial Airways aircraft were seen in 1938 as well as Pan American types. In 1940, Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) flew one of their two Short Empire flying boats to Evans Bay with dignitaries that attended the nearby New Zealand Centennial Exhibition located at Rongotai aerodrome.
Although RNZAF Short Sunderland and Consolidated Catalina Flying Boat operations flew intermittently through the 1940s from their seaplane base at Shelly Bay located further back along the Miramar Peninsula, it was not until 1950 when TEAL the forerunner to national airline Air New Zealand, operated a permanent overseas service to Australia from Evans Bay.
Located on the sheltered western end of the bay beneath Hataitai Point, next to the Evans Bay ship maintenance Patent slip'. A temporary terminal was provided by using roadside parking garages along Evans Bay Parade until a more substantial terminal facility was constructed on reclaimed land in 1951. A 'Braby' pontoon dock was installed to allow easier boarding and light maintenance of the Short Solent flying boats that TEAL used at the time. Evans Bay could be quite rough in unfavourable weather conditions and at least one Solent was damaged when alighting, needing substantial repairs.
Services to New Zealand's most far flung eastern islands, the Chatham Islands, were also operated from Evans Bay using aircraft from TEAL, Ansett Airways, as well as the RNZAF. A proposal for a peak time domestic service to Auckland by National Airways Corporation in 1949 using Short Sandringham flying boats to make up for the 1947 closure of Rongotai Airport was turned down as uneconomic compared to DC-3 operations 56 kilometres (35 mi) away at what is today Kapiti Coast airport.
Nearby unused Rongotai airfield provided air traffic control for the alighting area. As advances in aviation overtook the flying boat concept, TEAL switched to landplane operations and the terminal was closed in 1956. Also at the time, Rongotai airfield underwent total redevelopment into what is today Wellington International Airport which opened in 1959. An original concept was to create a joint landbase and flying boat airport but, logically, not pursued.
Today the site of the terminal is home to a local yacht club while large jet aircraft fly into Wellington Airport overhead.
- Te Papa Museum of New Zealand|Wellington
- History of Air New Zealand, First Fifty Years, pub1990
- Wings over New Zealand|History of Evans Bay terminal