Watch: The roughest plane rides and dodgiest landings

If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ve probably had a white-knuckle experience while your plane’s pilot battles Wellington’s winds or a turbulent arrival at Queenstown Airport.

Your short trip might have even turned into an hours-long ordeal after being turned around and sent back homeunable to land.

There are certain airports around Aotearoa that guarantee a bumpy landing – but pilots say that landing and take-off any airport can be challenging in the right (or wrong) conditions.

Let’s take a look at some of the roughest plane rides and almost-landings.

An Air New Zealand plane comes in to land at Wellington airport.  There are certain airports in Aotearoa that guarantee a bumpy landing.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

An Air New Zealand plane comes in to land at Wellington airport. There are certain airports in Aotearoa that guarantee a bumpy landing.

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Plane aborts landing at Rarotonga

This Air New Zealand plane was forced to turn around and head back to Auckland after pulling out of its landing at Rarotonga International Airport, just meters from the ground. Fascinated locals gathered near the end of the runway to watch aircraft attempt to land amid stormy weather.

Jeremy King

The plane returned all the way to Auckland, making it a six-hour return flight to nowhere.

A passenger on the flight told Stuff that the plane was “rocking and shaking “ as it approached Rarotonga.

Strong cross winds prevented a flight from Auckland to Rarotonga from landing, meaning it had to return to Auckland.

Bumpy arrivals in the capital city

After three tries, this 2018 flight finally made it to the ground. Air New Zealand later said that changing wind directions hampered landing efforts.


In this 2018 video, flight NZ 449 had to pull out of landing at Wellington twice after changes in wind direction caused the pilots to perform a “go around”.

And in this video, from a different flight, the wing of a plane can be seen shaking and wobbling as it descends upon the capital city.


Despite wild winds, one Air New Zealand pilot managed to pull off a smooth landing.

Windy Wellington proves too much for these Jetstar flights

Severe gales across Wellington prevented this Jetstar plane from finishing its descent into the capital city.

Mel Crook

A Jetstar flight aborts a landing in Wellington amid heavy winds.

In another separate incident, an attempted landing at Wellington airport was abandoned due to high winds. The flight was able to land during a second try.

A Jetstar flight from Auckland to Wellington missed its landing due to high winds, but successfully landed on a second attempt.

Birds hamper landing in Nelson

While wild weather is usually to blame for aborted landings, this flight to Nelson was forced to abandon its arrival attempt after nearly hitting a flock of birds. Stuff Travel reporter Brook Sabin said the flight was already bumpy thanks to stormy weather, and just minutes earlier a flight attendant had told passengers where to find sick bags.


A flight to Nelson was just meters from the ground when a flock of birds forced the captain to abort the landing.

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