On 23 October, 1948, Mount Ruapehu, ZK-AGK Kaka crashed into Mount Ruapehu.
ZK-AGK Kaka left Palmerston North Airport on a return flight to Hamilton. Conditions were windy, with thick cloud and rain. The most direct route between Palmerston North and Hamilton led over the three volcanoes in the middle of the North Island, but the usual route veered to pass over Wanganui instead.
At 1:38 pm the aircraft passed over Wanganui in heavy cloud and rain. It was due to arrive at Hamilton an hour later, but did not contact Hamilton when expected.
Different reports of a plane in trouble came in but it was uncertain just where the plane was likely to be. Ground and air searches were carried out in different places for several days without finding a trace of the missing plane.
A group of deerstalkers reported hearing a plane near Mount Ruapehu on the day ZK-AGK went missing. A search on the mountain found wreckage near the summit. A recovery party finally reached the crash site one week after the accident, but it was confirmed that all on board the plane would have died instantly
How many died?
13 (11 passengers and 2 crew)
Other events and outcomes
A commission of enquiry found that the lack of navigation beacons through the central North Island meant that once off-course, the pilot had to rely on the plane's instruments and was unable to check his position on the ground because of thick cloud. The pilot had flown off course in the first place because he had made a mistake in allowing for a strong westerly (sideways) wind.
More information and sources
- King, John. Aviation: accidents and disasters, Wellington, 1995.
- Mt Ruapehu air crash kills 13 from NZHistory
- Go to our page on New Zealand disasters
- Read some true kids books about disasters
- Read some true adult books about disasters
- Read some stories about New Zealand kids in disasters