Auckland-Invercargill flights take to the skies

Invercargill's Mayor believes direct flights to Auckland will stop people seeing his town as "being at the end of a dead-end road". 

The first southbound flight from the super city takes off Sunday night, and a return trip will jet off Monday morning. 

Mayor Tim Shadbolt says there are a few clear advantages.

"In terms of us supplying top-quality seafood to the Auckland market, for tourism coming both ways."

Shadbolt says the contact will also make Invercargill feel a bit closer to the rest of the country, with connecting the city to everyone else a goal of his since taking office in the 1990s.

"We were isolated, and being at the end of a dead-end road made us feel a bit unwanted."

He predicts direct flights to the big smoke will be in hot demand. 

"We've been fortunate in that we've had a bit of a dummy run at this - we chartered three large jets for the Bluff Oyster Festival - they sold out months before."

Five flights will take off in each direction every week. 

"This is something we’ve had set in our sights for a long time and we’re very happy the day has finally arrived where we can say that this coveted route is now a reality for people travelling into and out of the southern region," Invercargill Airport Limited general manager Nigel Finnerty said in December last year, when the route was first announced.

"Southlanders have been asking for a direct flight between Invercargill and Auckland for a long time and this announcement means Southland will be more connected to the world than it’s ever been. We believe the Southland community will get right behind this trial and make this service a success."