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Flying above Little River Christchurch

Little River

GPS Coordinates: -43.815, 172.801


Wind Direction: Light Winds (Take-off faces North)

Minimum Pilot Rating: PG2 / HG Advanced

Access: From the SH73 Akaroa Road, turn right onto Kinloch Road just after passing Little River Tavern. Follow this road up the steep climb to the summit road and turn left. Follow the summit road until you reach a style over the fence (TO1) or carry on a little further for TO2.

Take-off: PG’s normally use TO1 because there is less obstruction on the ground. HG’s normally use TO2 as the slope is a little steeper without obstructions immediately after take-off. At either take-off, there is plenty of room to rig several gilders. Before you take-off it is a good idea to pop over the back of the summit ridge to check that there is not a southerly still blowing up the face from Te Oka bay.

Landing: PG’s normally use LZ1 whilst HG’s LZ2. If these paddocks have livestock in them use an adjacent one on the same side of the road. Be cautious of power lines that run through adjacent paddocks.


The owner of the bottom landing paddocks must be contacted the night before flying if you are planning on landing in these paddocks. This is to ensure stock can be moved to a safe location.

Do not fly here if you haven’t made contact with the land owner unless you are certain you are not going to land in their paddocks.


Please politely contact the Kinloch Station manager Joe on 021 277 1188 before 9 pm the night before flying. Text is sufficient. No “Go ahead” reply needed for you to proceed.


Lambing during spring may lead to a temporary site closure.

Please contact our sites officers if you are unsure on the status of lambing.

Flying: Little River is one of our best local XC sites. Controlled airspace does not start until 9500 ft. You should only be flying this site in light thermic conditions. The airmass at Little River is normally better here than at the Port Hills, so you can expect a higher cloudbase.

Despite its 700 m altitude above the landing area, it can be easy to bomb-out. Generally, thermals will trigger off the spur closest to take-off, so remember to work the first climb you encounter as it may be the only one on your way to the landing zone.


Just be careful when thermalling out from take-off, to monitor your drift. If you are drifting quickly over the summit ridge (i.e. drifting south) be sure to leave when you are still able to comfortably make it back to take-off. You do not want to get caught in any turbulence below the summit ridge on the southern side.

For XC flying, you can aim to fly a circuit to Hill Top, Little River township and back or fly to Akaroa or Christchurch. Whilst overall XC distances are small, the flying is technical and rewarding.


As with all Port Hill sites, Little River is heavily influenced by the NE sea breeze. In summer, the NE may arrive quickly and so your flying window may be short. At other times of the year you should have a longer window of flying. The NE will actually come into the Little River valley from two separate directions. Firstly, it will come over from Port Levy saddle and Akaroa harbour. Slightly later, it will also push in from Lake Forsyth.


You can keep a good track of the wind strength by looking at the state of Lake Forsyth. Thermic activity will have ceased by the time you see definite wind lines on the lake. You may encounter some turbulence as you descend through a shear layer and into the sea breeze.



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