Explanation of the Designation

Whenuapai Air Base Approach and Departure Path Protection
(Designation No. 4311)


A designation is a planning mechanism found in a District Plan that is used to authorise specific activities on a particular site.  It overrides other rules and standards in District Plans. Designations are used by Ministers of the Crown and infrastructure providers, generally for public and/or significant projects such as roads, schools, and airports.

The Minister of Defence has a number of designations in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, one of which relates to the flight paths into and out of the Whenuapai Air Base.   

Whenuapai Air Base has two operational runways.  The airspace through which aircraft travel on approach to, and departure from, the runways needs to be kept clear of buildings and other obstacles (such as radio masts and antennas).  This is to ensure the safety of aircraft and to comply with Civil Aviation Rules.  The Minister of Defence uses a designation to ensure that this airspace is kept clear.

This designation is not new – it exists in the North Shore and Waitakere District Plans.  The version included in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan makes technical updates required to reflect current Civil Aviation Rules, and applies the designation within the former Rodney District (it was not included in the Rodney District Plan). 

Further detail on the nature of the designation, and how it has been modified from that included in the North Shore and Waitakere District Plans, is provided below.  In summary, the modifications are unlikely to impose any real restriction on the properties located below them.

Nature of the designation

The approach and departure path protection designation imposes restrictions on the maximum height of buildings and structures that can be built on the properties underneath the designation.  The height restriction is set at the height of the ‘obstacle limitation surfaces’, which are shown on diagrams and described in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.  The height restriction gets higher, further away from the runways.  No obstacle (building or structure) is allowed to penetrate the obstacle limitation surfaces without the prior written approval of the New Zealand Defence Force.  There is no restriction on buildings up to 9m high above natural ground level. 

The shape and dimensions of the approach and departure path protection designation are based on current Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules.  These are the same approach and departure path protections that apply to all airports certified under the CAA rules. 

The approach and departure path protection designation is somewhat different to most designations in that it is three-dimensional and above the ground (a feature that cannot be shown on a two-dimensional planning map).  The designation, when imposed on a 2-D planning map, consists of a generally circular shape centred over the two runways, and four wedges that extend out from each end of the two runways.  The extent of the designation spans three of the former local Council areas, being Rodney, Waitakere and North Shore.   

This page was last reviewed on 18 October 2013.