Wellington’s infamous wind has forced an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to divert to Christchurch.
Flight NZ413 took off from Auckland at about 9am on Monday and was scheduled to arrive at 10:10am.
However, instead of landing, the Airbus A320 circled over Wellington a couple of times before carrying on to Christchurch, a Flightradar24 map shows.
An Air New Zealand spokesperson said the diversion was due to wind shear – a sudden change in the speed or direction of wind – in Wellington. The flight landed safely, but resulted in the cancellation of a return service to Queenstown.
Wellington was recently named the most turbulent airport in New Zealand, as well as one of the top three airports in the world to get the pulse racing on landing and taking off.
Earlier this year, MetService meteorologist Thapi Makgabutlane told Stuff that Wellington was renowned for its bumpy runway approaches.
If the speed or direction of the wind change rapidly between the surface and the first 500m of the atmosphere, it is known as low-level wind shear, she said. This causes the plane’s airspeed to quickly change, “often felt as that awful feeling in the stomach as the plane moves up and down”.
MetService meteorologist Philippa Murdoch told Stuff that if the wind above the hills was from the west or east, but surface winds were northerly or southerly, planes could encounter strong wind shear.
“The runway is set up north to south because of these prevailing winds. However, crosswinds from less common directions can make landings and takeoffs bumpy – and make for some dramatic video footage.”