Details of lighting available at New Zealand aerodromes are presented on the aerodrome charts in the AIPNZ, Vol 2, 3 and 4. Information on aerodrome lighting at New Zealand international aerodromes is also presented in the AIPNZ in Vol 1, AD 2. Details of lighting at South Pacific island aerodromes within the Auckland and Nadi Oceanic FIRs (excluding Pago Pago, Port Vila and New Caledonia sectors) are presented in the Pacific AIP.

Aerodrome charts in the AIPNZ(external link)   

AIP New Zealand(external link)

In weather conditions likely to cause condensation or water on the lenses of visual aids, pilots are advised to operate PAL or VHF remote control of lighting as soon as practicable so that the aid can have a 5 minute warm-up. This will reduce the likelihood of false indications through optical distortion.

Permanently installed runway lighting will be classified according to the available light intensity as either light intensity high (LIH), light intensity medium (LIM) or light intensity low (LIL). This intensity classification appears in the lighting box on the landing chart in AIPNZ.

On precision approach runways, high intensity lighting is normally provided with five stages of intensity control. Other runways are normally provided with two stage intensity lighting.

The initial intensity setting is selected by ATS to suit prevailing visibility requirements. Pilots may request alteration of the intensity setting to suit individual requirements.


Aircraft may taxi on the movement area at an aerodrome reporting an RVR of 550m or more provided that:

  • taxiway centre-line lighting is available; and
  • an appropriate ATC clearance has been received.

Reduced visibility departures

Aircraft may taxi on the movement area at an aerodrome reporting an RVR of 550m; or the RVR of the associated departure procedure; whichever is the less, provided that:

  • taxiway centre-line lighting is available; and
  • an appropriate ATC clearance has been received.

Permanently installed runway lighting consists of runway edge lights, threshold lights, and runway end lights.

Runway edge lighting (REDL)

Is normally white for the usable portion of the runway.

Runway threshold lighting (RTHL)

May extend across the full width of the runway or have a clear gap about the central section. This lighting is normally uni-directional green, visible from the approach direction.

Runway end lighting (RENL)

Is installed across the end of the runway. It may extend across the full width of the runway or have a clear gap about the central section. This lighting is normally uni-directional red, visible from the direction of the runway.

Displaced threshold lighting

Where a landing threshold is displaced, the runway end lights may not be coincident with the threshold lighting. When this occurs the runway edge lighting, between the landing threshold and the runway end lights, will be uni-directional red visible from the approach direction and uni-directional white visible from the runway. On non-precision approach runways the displaced threshold lighting may be provided by a wing bar display of lights outboard of the runway edges. This landing threshold lighting is normally uni-directional green, visible from the approach direction.

Runway centreline lights (RCLL)

A precision approach runway may also be provided with flush centre line lights over the whole length of the runway. This lighting will be coded to show white from the threshold to a point 914m from the runway end; alternate red and white between 914m and 300m from the runway end; and red between 300m and the runway end.

Runway end indicator lighting (REIL)

Comprises a very high intensity uni-directional light projector located on either side of the runway approximately 30m from the runway extended centre line and downwind of the landing threshold. The projectors are aligned to be visible from the approach direction, and are synchronised to flash simultaneously and to show brilliant white flashes at a rate of 60 flashes per minute. The projectors have two intensities.

Four different types of approach light systems are in use in New Zealand:

  • High Intensity Approach Light Systems (LIH ALS) of the Calvert high intensity uni-directional white type are used on precision approach runways at international aerodromes in combination with low intensity red systems. Light intensity is variable on pilot request.
  • High Intensity Approach Light Systems on military aerodromes may be high intensity unidirectional white with cross bars. This system may be in combination with a variable low intensity red system.
  • Low Intensity Approach Light System/2 bar (LIL ALS/2 bar) normally provided for a precision approach runway comprises a single row or omni-directional red lights along the extended runway centre line, with two cross bars. Light intensity is variable on pilot request.
  • Low Intensity Approach Light System/1 bar (LIL ALS/1 bar) provided for other runways comprises a single row of omni-directional red lights extending 420m from the threshold along the extended runway centre line. A single crossbar may be positioned at 300m. Light intensity may be variable on pilot request.

Circling guidance lighting (CGL)

Circling Guidance Lighting (CGL) is installed to provide either: positive tracking in terrain or obstacle restricted circuit areas, or

  • a clear indication of landing threshold from the latter portion of the downwind leg or from base leg and final approach in reduced visibility.
  • To provide positive tracking where terrain or obstacles restrict the circuiting area, a racetrack pattern of lights may be laid out to identify to a pilot the track to be followed. The system is normally used by night only.

To provide a clear indication of landing threshold, a system of high intensity white lights is used to identify and locate the landing threshold during the later part of the downwind leg and on base leg. These allow a pilot to determine the point at which to turn from the downwind leg onto base leg, and from base leg onto final approach. Two lights are located outboard of the threshold and a further light is positioned at the outer extremity of each crossbar of the approach light system. The lights at the threshold and on the two innermost crossbars are aligned in azimuth in the circuit direction and at 90º to the runway centre line. The lights on the third, fourth and fifth crossbars are aligned in azimuth at 80º, 60º, and 30º respectively from the runway centre line. All lights are elevated 6º above the horizontal so as to be visible in the appropriate areas of the circuit. The system does not provide a fixing service but is intended to indicate the threshold position from the circuiting area only, in conditions of reduced visibility by day and by night.  

Where approach slope indicators are installed, the azimuth coverage of the circling guidance lighting is restricted so as not to be visible in the area of approach slope indicator coverage.

Runway lead in lighting (RLLS)

Runway Lead in Lighting (RLLS) may be provided where additional lighting is required to provide positive tracking to an aerodrome or to the commencement of the approach lighting. RLLS is normally fixed or flashing omni-directional red lights. The outermost light may be a fixed or flashing amber and, where additional conspicuity is required, flashing omni-directional white lights may be provided.

Pilot activated lighting (PAL)

Aerodromes in New Zealand may be equipped with a pilot activated VHF switching system to operate runway and associated lighting. Details are contained in the appropriate aerodrome charts in the AIPNZ Vol 2, 3 and 4.

At most aerodromes lighting duration is 20 minutes and a standard system of keying of the aircraft transmitter on the designated frequency achieves various lighting changes as follows:

  • Activation - Five rapid and short transmissions, collectively not exceeding three seconds.
  • Brilliance and runway selection - After a 10 second warm up when first turned on, the lights switch to full brightness. To change intensity, repeat the activation sequence but hold the button down on the last transmission. The lighting intensity will continuously cycle until the transmit button is released. Where alternative runways are available the cycling will include changing to the next runway(s) and cycling their brilliance before starting the cycle again.
  • Re-activation - At any time a single transmission will reset the lighting timer for a further 20 minutes. Note: There is no warning prior to the lights turning off.

Instructions for operation of the non-standard systems at other aerodromes are detailed on the aerodrome charts in the AIPNZ Vol 2, 3 and 4.

Remote control of lighting at aerodromes within New Zealand may be available by prior arrangement with the aerodrome operator or Chief Controller.

Remote control of lighting may also be available from the Area Flight Information Centre via a nominated VHF frequency. Pilots requesting activation via this method should call at least five minutes prior to departure or arrival specifying runway to be used. Adjustment of brilliance levels may take up to 1 minute to action. Pilots are required to advise when lighting is no longer required; this may be part of an arrival report. 

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