Kia Ora fail: Auckland Airport’s $40k welcome sign at wrong end for first arrivals

The first tourists to land at Auckland Airport as borders reopened to travellers from visa-waiver countries overnight were supposed to be welcomed with a big Kiwi 'kia ora' – but the wind had other ideas.

Auckland Airport and Tourism New Zealand spent $NZ40,000 ($A36,490) painting the greeting on the grass at the north-eastern end of the runway in honour of the occasion.

Most aircraft would normally come in to land at this end. As the Auckland Airport website explains: "The runway at Auckland Airport is oriented north-east to south-west. The predominant wind in Auckland is a westerly, meaning that most flights arrive from the north-east in order to land into the wind."

However, on Monday, the wind was coming from the east, so the first international flights had to come in from the west – meaning the greeting was at the wrong end, and upside down from the perspective of arriving aircraft.

Other arrivals so far on Monday included an Air New Zealand flight from San Francisco, an Air New Zealand flight from Perth, an Emirates flight from Kuala Lumpur, a Fiji Airways flight from Nadi, a Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur and a Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore.

All arrivals have been coming in from the west, with the wind direction yet to change as of late Monday afternoon.

An Auckland Airport spokesperson confirmed the wind was causing flights to land in the opposite direction to the sign on Monday.

However, the sign would be in place for three to four weeks, and as 80% of aircraft landed at the north-eastern end of the runway, they were "really confident" thousands of travellers would get the chance to enjoy the "warm Kiwi welcome".

Content featuring the welcome sign would also be shared with international media.


Approach paths could change several times a day, depending on the wind direction, the spokesperson said, adding it had not been possible to paint a welcome sign at the other end of the runway due to operational constraints.

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