Out on the Pukaki Airport, Pukaki Air Lodge, Owners Mary and Grant Murdoch arrived 4 years ago, with a vision to combine their love of aviation with hospitality to create a memorable overnight experience catering for Alps 2 Ocean Cyclists, Aviators and tourists wanting a unique but luxurious accommodation experience.
What is the story behind our accommodation creation?
We, that is, Grant (commonly known as Muddy) and Mary holidayed in this region with our children for several years and then with our youngest about to leave home in 2017, we seized the opportunity to purchase a section and build a hangar. We had spent 20 years restoring a Chinese CJ6 Nanchang and it was in need of a new home, and we were looking to do something different. Aside from running the lodge, Muddy, until recently an airline pilot for Virgin Australia, works as the drop pilot for Skydive Mt Cook. If he has spare time he can be seen flying the Nanchang. Mary also fits in a few hours work as the local physiotherapist providing services to the Twizel townspeople.
What capacity does the Air Lodge have for visitors?
We can comfortably accommodate 16 people, making our lodge ideal for large groups, small conferences and photography courses in addition to providing separate hotel style accommodation for couples.
Is there really a B52 Bomber stored in the hanger?
Well, that may be an exaggeration – but we do have a cool Chinese CJ6 Nanchang flying machine that we spent 20 years restoring – so I guess that’s a bit different from the usual rose garden. Our plane is housed in the hangar which is part of the whole building. It is not separate, though well separated in terms of any noise. Our guests can view the planes in the hangar, and sit in the Nanchang. This is only available to guests who stay at Pukaki Air Lodge and is not available to the general public. In addition to plenty of onsite free parking, the hangar also doubles as a very large space in which to securely store and charge bikes overnight, or helicopters, and business jets. We cater for parking quite a variety of vehicles in which people arrive.
Is it true that you are pushing to have international flights fly into Twizel from Australia?
We Wish!!! However, there is a steady increase in aviation activity on the airfield with Skydive Mt Cook now operating from this airport, as well as the Red Cat Biplane. We have 5 permanent residents who all have aeroplanes and there are usually a number of other aircraft coming and going along with helicopters on a regular basis, though only when the weather is good, and with no night flying a peaceful sleep is ensured as well as quiet enjoyment of the night sky.
Never a dull moment living on an airfield:
Since we moved here things have been pretty crazy and our best memory to date is that when we first opened the lodge in 2018 we immediately handed the keys over to Disney movies for 6 weeks as our completion date lined up with their need for a large space in which to do some indoor filming for the movie Mulan, which was released on September 4th 2020. This was a lucky start for us and exciting as well. The stunning views are something that never cease to fill us with awe and we are unlikely to tire of them anytime soon. We are lucky enough to experience the view from the sky, on the ice and on the lakes. So many wonderful perspectives and a photographers dream living here.