Cook Strait Extension, 1937
Cook Strait

The initial Cook Strait Airways service was between Wellington, Blenheim and Nelson. In February 1937, the service was extended from Nelson to Greymouth and Hokitika.

There were three flights a week from Wellington, Blenheim and Nelson to Greymouth and Hokitika from where a connection could be made with the Air Travel (NZ) service to Haast and Okuru.

The first service was planned for 23 February 1937, but although the Dragon Rapide with G.B.Bolt as pilot left Nelson, it had to return due to bad weather.

Cook Strait

Letters had been datestamped 23 February at Nelson, but as the second attempt at the journey was on 24 February, the datestamp was re-applied at Nelson at 7 am with the new date.

This can be seen on the cover which was flown from Nelson to Hokitika by Cook Strait Airways.

Cook Strait

The plane carried 417 items for Greymouth and 379 for Hokitika.

From Hokitika, the cover was flown on to Okuru by Air Travel (NZ). As the Air Travel (NZ) service was only weekly, the mail was not flown to Okuru until 1 March as can be seen from the backstamp.

Palm North

A connection could be made with Union Airways at Blenheim. The next cover was posted at Palmerston North on 22 February and flown to Blenheim by Union Airways and from Blenheim to Nelson by the established Cook Strait Airways service on the same day.

The flight from Nelson to Hokitika by the new Cook Strait Airways service was attempted on the 23rd and took place on the 24th. It was then flown from Hokitika to Okuru by Air Travel (NZ) on 1 March.

PN back

It has a fine array of backstamps. It is postmarked Palmerston North and backstamped Blenheim at 10.45am and Nelson at 2pm on 22 February. Due to the delayed flight it is postmarked again at Nelson on 24 February and backstamped Hokitika on the 24th and Okuru on 1 March.

Return flight


The return flight was on the same day and started at 10.45 from Hokitika and left Greymouth at 11.15.

Greymouth back

Covers from both Hokitika and Greymouth had originally been postmarked on 23 February, but due to the delay they were datestamped again on 24 February.

This cover is one of 515 from Greymouth to Nelson. It has postmarks at 10.30am on both the 23 and 24 February and a Nelson backstamp at 2pm on 24 February.

There had previously been an experimental airmail between Wellington and Hokitika via Nelson and Westport in January 1932.

Addition of Westport, March 1939

Westport Westport

On 15 March 1939, a stop at Westport was added to the service between Nelson and Greymouth and the frequency of the service was increased from three times a week to daily.

This cover was flown on the first northbound flight from Westport to Wellington. It is postmarked at Westport at 11 am and backstamped at Wellington at 2.45pm.

Connections were made at Wellington with the Union Airways service.

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All scans were made by the author. Information on this page is taken from:
Airmails of New Zealand, volume 1 (1955) compiled by Douglas A Walker, and the New Zealand Airmail Catalogue, (2nd Edition, 1994) by James Stapleton. Both are published by the Air Mail Society of New Zealand