Aircraft noise is an issue for airports all over the world, and managing aircraft noise is a shared responsibility. We work closely with the aviation industry to ensure our efforts are best practice. New generation aircraft are larger, quieter, more efficient and are helping to reduce aircraft noise. Their larger capacity also means that although passenger numbers are increasing, the number of flights at the airport is increasing at a slower rate.

Queenstown Airport is the direct domestic and international gateway to the lower South Island, providing easy access to Queenstown, one of the world’s premium visitor destinations, and to some of New Zealand’s most renowned scenery and visitor experiences. It facilitates more than 1.8 million travellers moving through each year and aircraft movements and passenger growth are projected to continue. We’re very mindful of the impact this will have on our neighbours over the years and as our operations grow we want to be proactive in helping them future-proof their homes.

Latest update - as at August 2017

To date, our aircraft noise management programme has been primarily focused on the homes in the airport’s ‘Inner Noise Sector’, as they are most affected by aircraft noise.  The focus for FY17 was to complete the design of custom noise mitigation packages for each of these homes and commence the associated works.  We also have finalised the package specifications for homes in the ‘Mid Noise Sector’ and will begin an engagement process with homeowners over the next 12 months.


Following work in 2013/14 which involved forming the Queenstown Airport Community Liaison Committee, adopting the Noise Management Plan and discussing options with our affected neighbours, we have been working through our aircraft noise mitigation plans and putting them into action. 


  • Our primary focus in the 2015 financial year was to progress works on the 13 Inner Noise Sector homes most affected by aircraft noise.  This involved each home being assessed by noise management experts and individual acoustic treatment package reports being developed.
  • These acoustic packages were then worked through and put into action in our first trial house which was completed in May 2015.  Project manager RCP worked with contractors to test a number of different scenarios to ensure that when we work on each home we have proven best practices which achieve optimal acoustic results with the least impact to the people living in the house. 
  • These learnings were then applied to a second, larger trial house before mitigation work started on the first of the Inner Noise Sector homes. 
  • In the meantime, QAC and RCP met with each of the 13 homeowners to go through the technical acoustic treatment package reports completed by Marshall Day and the reports from architect Warren and Mahoney which show the actual effect of the noise treatments.  A Letter of Offer - the formal process of Queenstown Airport Corporation offering a full noise mitigation package at its cost - was sent to each owner for their consideration.  If accepted, a timeline is then agreed by both parties on commencing mitigation works.
  • Preliminary design work for the 13 homes that qualify for the full noise mitigation package was completed 
  • Legal agreements for presentation to homeowners were drafted and subsequently approved by the Queenstown Airport Liaison Committee.  This included a thorough review by an independent solicitor acting as an advocate for homeowners’ interests.
  • One-on-one detailed meetings were held with each homeowner to present and discuss the bespoke noise mitigation design solution for their home and the legal documentation.  Further correspondence and discussion with owners took place after the meetings to address questions, and owners took their own independent advice.
  • By the end of 2015, seven homeowners had indicated they would proceed with noise mitigation works.  We remain in discussion with all owners and in particular with those who require further information before deciding whether to proceed.


  • Mitigation works for the Inner Noise Sector were packaged into groups of 3 or 4 homes for tendering and completed in stages, starting in 2016.
  • By July 2016, the first tranche of QAC’s Noise Mitigation Programme was made available to homeowners in the ‘Inner Noise Sector’ as the programme tracked the path agreed with the Liaison Committee.
  • Two homes in the Mid Noise Sector began trialling mechanical ventilation packages.
  • Work began on the Mid Noise Sector - all 135 owners were contacted regarding mechanical ventilation proposals.    

The programme will continue in scheduled tranches for the next 20 years.  

Noise Management Plan

Our approach is guided by our Noise Management Plan. It sets out how we will liaise with the community and fund and deliver measures to reduce noise. It outlines everything from guidelines for the working of the Queenstown Airport Liaison Committee, to details about how and when Queenstown Airport will help local homeowners meet the cost of aircraft noise reduction measures for their homes.

View the Noise Management Plan.

Queenstown Airport Liaison Committee

The Queenstown Airport Liaison Committee (QALC) was formed in October 2013.  It is a forum and interface between the Airport and the community and other stakeholders regarding issues related to noise at Queenstown Airport. Its responsibilities include hearing feedback from the residents and monitoring complaints. There are 10 committee members comprising an independent chairperson, 3 community representatives, 1 QLDC representative, 1 Airways NZ representative, 1 airline representative, 1 general aviation representative and 2 Queenstown Airport representatives.

Noise Boundaries

Queenstown Airport’s Plan Change 35 expands the noise boundaries to allow the Airport to meet the anticipated growth of passenger numbers and aircraft movements out to 2037. The changes set out how the Airport will help fund measures to reduce internal noise for those existing homes that are most affected, before the predicted noise levels are reached.

View the Noise Contours map which shows the estimated boundaries in 2037.

The Airport has three noise sectors:

Inner Noise Sector
Also known as the Air Noise Boundary (ANB). Within this sector, aircraft noise reaches levels of 65 decibels or greater on average measured over a 24 hour period.

Mid Noise Sector
Within this sector, aircraft noise reaches levels greater than 60, but less than 65 decibels on average measured over a 24 hour period.

Outer Noise Sector
Also known as the Outer Control Boundary (OCB). Houses are deemed to lie within the Outer Sector if they are subject to aircraft noise levels of at least 55 decibels on average measured over a 24 hour period.

Annual Aircraft Noise Contours

Each year Queenstown Airport prepares Annual Aircraft Noise Contours (AANC), which show where noise from aircraft flying overhead averages, over a year, 60 dBA and 65 dBA. Over time, the contours give the public an indication of how aircraft noise at any time compares to the final 2037 noise boundary allowed for in Plan Change 35. The contours also give homeowners in the noise areas an indication of when they are likely to receive offers of acoustic treatment. More properties will become eligible for noise reduction funding as aircraft movements gradually increase.

Noise Mitigation Acoustic Treatment

We have a range of noise-reducing measures depending on which noise sector we assess your property to be in. The dimensions of the noise sectors will gradually expand over time as aircraft movements increase between now and 2037.

Each home will be individually assessed by our group of experts for acoustic treatment, dependent on which sector your house lies in. The offer of acoustic treatment for those homes in the Inner and Mid Noise Sectors is open for 12 months. It is important to note you do not have to take up this offer.

Inner Noise Sector
Queenstown Airport will fund 100% of the noise reduction costs for existing homes within this sector. This will generally include both sound insulation and ventilation to ensure that interior noise caused by aircraft doesn’t exceed 40 decibels, on average measured over a 24 hour period. Acoustic insulation uses materials such as batts in ceilings, additional gib board, ensuring the windows have compression seals and double glazing. Insulation in walls and ceilings could be from materials such as fibreglass, polystyrene, wool and synthetic fibres. Each home will be individually assessed and provided with an individual report on what is recommended.

Mid Noise Sector
Queenstown Airport will fund 75% of the cost towards installing a mechanical ventilation system. This system enables windows and doors to remain closed to help keep the interior noise from aircraft to a maximum of 40 decibels, on average measured over a 24 hour period.

Outer Noise Sector
No noise reduction measures are offered for houses in this sector.

Aircraft Noise Complaints – Talk with us

We welcome your questions and suggestions about managing the effects of aircraft noise. If you would like to make a complaint, or would like to get in touch with us to discuss anything please fill out this form and email it to Alternatively you can call us on +64 3 450 9031.

Please be sure to get as much information as possible and include the date and time of the event, any identifiable aircraft features (company, colour or registration number), and the phase of the flight (e.g. take-off or landing).

When we receive your complaint, it will be acknowledged, and investigated within 2 working days. The results of the investigation will be advised to you within 20 working days. All complaints are monitored by the Queenstown Airport Liaison Committee.