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Sounds Air is a small regional airline based in New Zealand. The airline was founded in 1986 by couple Cliff and Diane Marchant. Their vision was to provide low-cost flights to the Marlborough Sounds, a collection of ancient sunken river valleys filled with the waters of the Pacific Ocean, at the northern end of the South Island of New Zealand.

Top Tip: Looking for flights within New Zealand? Look at our guide to domestic flights within New Zealand to learn more about flying internally within the country, including airlines you can fly with, popular routes, and FAQs.


From just one Cessna Caravan operating a single route across the Cook Straight, Sounds Air has grown rapidly over the last 30 years; in 2015, the airline carried 78,000 passengers, which compares to 14,000 passengers in 2003. As of 2021, as well as flying to Marlborough Sounds, the airline operates both scheduled passenger flights and private charter flights to Cook Strait, Wellington, and Nelson.

Baggage Policy

Carry-on Baggage

One small personal item may be taken on board with you such as a laptop or handbag. All passengers are allowed 20 kg, including carry-on.

Checked Baggage

Checked luggage must be checked in 30 minutes prior to departure. The 20 kg limit applies including carry-on and check-in luggage. Excess baggage beyond the free allowance will be subject to space availability on the day of travel. Additional charges will also apply.

Fare Classes

No matter what fare you choose, expect to receive the same quality service that the airline has provided since 1987.

Economy Class

Sounds Air offers a standard class fare, akin to what might be expected from an economy class fare. However, the airline does recognise that different flyers have different needs. Therefore, Sounds Air offers three grades of fare, including:

Sounds Best - the most flexible fare, for passengers with dynamic schedules. Passengers can change or cancel their flight free of charge, up to 1 hour prior to the scheduled departure time.

Sounds Great - the classic middle-range fare. Passengers are still able to cancel or change their flights prior to the day of departure but will be charged $25 NZD per passenger.

Sounds Good - the least expensive fare, for passengers with firm travel plans that want to fly for less. Passengers are still able to cancel or change their flights up to the day of departure but will be charged $40 NZD per passenger.

Check-In Information

Online Check-In

Sounds Air does not provide online check-in service.

Airport Check-In

The Sounds Air airport check-in counters close 30 minutes before departure.

Please leave plenty of time for check-in to avoid any unexpected delays. The airline reserves the right to deny boarding if the passenger is late for check-in.

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Destinations that Sounds Air flies to

As of 2021, the airline operates scheduled flights to a number of destinations in New Zealand, including Wellington, Picton, Nelson, Blenheim, Paraparaumu, Westport, Taupo and Christchurch.

There are only domestic flights currently available at the moment. The airline also operates charter flights for groups. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline has been chartering flights for essential workers and medical patients to help with the situation.

Alternatives to Sounds Air

Air Chathams is another regional carrier, flying to New Zealand's beautiful Chatham Islands. The following airlines also operate domestic flights within New Zealand:

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Hub Airport

Wellington International Airport

Wellington International Airport. It is an international airport located in the suburb of Rongotai in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. Wellington is the third busiest airport in New Zealand. Airlines that fly to Wellington International Airport include Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Qantas, and Virgin Australia.


As of July 2020, Sounds Air's fleet consists of the following aircraft:

  • 4 x Cessna 208 Caravan
  • 6 x Pilatus PC-12

These types of aircraft are ideal for the types of flights Sounds Air operates.


8th January 2021

Sounds Air aims to be first regional airline to offer zero-emission flights

Last year, Sounds Air stated that it is endeavouring to become the first regional airline to offer zero-emission flights. As the new year begins, the airline is already taking action to meet this target. The airline has signed a letter of intent to purchase electric planes. These planes will be from Swedish company 'Heart Aerospace', which is aiming to manufacture ES-19 aircraft for commercial flights by 2026.

15th September 2020

Sounds Air adds Christchurch to Wanaka service

New Zealand based airline Sounds Air has begun taking reservations for its new route, from Christchurch to Wanaka, which will begin in November. The route will be operated by the airline's Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, and will be operated 11 times weekly.

Frequently asked questions

Does Sounds Air fly from Blenheim to Christchurch?

Yes! Sounds Air operate flights from Blenheim to Christchurch regularly. Flying from Blenheim to Christchurch is only a short flight, taking just under an hour to complete. Sounds Air operate return journeys from Blenheim to Christchurch.

Does Sounds Air fly from Blenheim to Wellington?

Sounds Air flies from Blenheim to Wellington and offers return journeys. The flight time from Blenheim to Wellington is around 30 minutes.

Can I buy now and pay later for my flights with Sounds Air?

Yes! With Alternative Airlines you can buy your flights now and worry about paying for them later. We offer lots of buy now, pay later options for you to purchase your flights with, including Afterpay, Klarna and PayPal.