The Classic Douglas DC3 In NZ

Air Chathams Douglas DC-3

Our classic aircraft, the pride and joy of our fleet.

From days flown under command of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and then as a passenger commuter for the National Airways Corporation, to fertilising crops as a top-dressing craft around New Zealand, Air Chathams' Douglas DC3 is a true Kiwi at heart.

While in National Airways service, the Air Chathams DC3 was originally named "Pouwhaitere", the Maori name for a red-crowned parakeet found on Chatham Island and other remote pacific islands.  


Following a later conversion to a "Skyliner" with bigger windows, heating and sound proofing, ZK-AWP was rolled out again with the new name "Kaitaia". 

"As the pride and joy of Air Chathams fleet, DC3 ZK-AWP, has just got a new look for the 2019 - 2020 summer season of scenic flights."

New, but also old, as the aircraft has returned to National Airways Corporation (NAC) colours in recognition of its long and extensive history with domestic flights in New Zealand.  

The aircraft flew NAC passenger services from April 1953 until the late 1960's.  Changing from the green of Air Chathams, the DC3 is now radiant in red and white.

Red and white were the NAC company colours at that time with the logo featuring a stylised kūaka (godwit) because of the bird's association with long distance flying.The DC-3 is a dream way to travel, with wide doors and aisles, large ‘skyliner’ windows, comfortable seating, and great in-flight service options available

Aircraft Specifications


Speed240 kilometres per hour
Max Altitude10,000 feet
Pressurised CabinNo
No. of Pilots2
No. of Flight Attendants1
No. of Seats28
Inflight CateringAs required



How did Air Chathams acquire the DC3?

The DC3 was stationed in Tonga in 2004 and under Tonga ownership for the following year.  In 2006, concerned about potential damage from violent riots that had erupted, our lovely aircraft was immediately locked away in its hangar at Fua'motu.  

Protected and safe, but quietly gathering dust for the next 3 years. Whilst establishing services for Air Chathams in the Pacific, Craig Emeny became the proud owner in 2009 when he purchased the aircraft as part of the hangar’s contents. Full restoration and airworthiness work was undertaken with the aircraft then re-painted in the familiar green of Chathams Pacific colours.  

For the next three years, the DC3 operated passenger services faithfully between islands groups before flying home to New Zealand in 2013, island hopping all the way. The Air Chathams DC3 now mainly undertakes charter work and scenic flights.

Explore futher

ATR 72

Our newest regional airliner.

Find out more

Cessna 206

Our Chatham Islands Workhorse.

Find out more

Saab 340

Our Swedish princess.

Find out more