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Base Woodbourne

RNZAF Base Woodbourne can be found west of Blenheim in the upper South Island. A key training and support Base, Woodbourne is where our newest recruits undergo initial military training before officially joining our ranks.

Two Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel salute during a graduation. Many other Air Force personnel stand around them and an NH90 helicopter flies overhead. It's a blue sky day and the image is taken from the ground looking up.

Royal New Zealand Air Force graduation.

With a population of around 600, Base Woodbourne is divided in two by State Highway 6 and is nestled among farm land and vineyards. Woodbourne is primarily used for training new recruits, carrying out initial officer and leadership training. Also, the majority of RNZAF trades undergo their trade training at Woodbourne. Woodbourne also hosts two civilian organisations which provide support for our training and aircraft maintenance.

Training is supported by the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) who have a campus on the Base and Airbus New Zealand who carry out maintenance on RNZAF aircraft.

RNZAF units at Woodbourne include Command and Recruit Training Squadron (CRTS), Technical Training Squadron (TTS), Mission Support Training Squadron (MSTS), Base HQ and other Operational Support units.

Facilities and amenities

  • Parade Grounds

    Parade grounds are a key aspect of any Camp or Base, providing an area where our personnel can march, practise drill, and undertake other activities. All recruits graduate at these particular grounds before officially becoming a member of our Royal New Zealand Air Force, a memorable time for our new recruits and their whānau.

  • Gyms and pool

    Our personnel must maintain a high level of fitness in order to deploy and so the gym is a key facility at Base Woodbourne. Our Physical Training Instructors conduct a variety of group fitness programmes and classes on a weekly basis. Our personnel can also access the gym out of hours for their own personal training.

    Our west gym is home to the Defence Physical Education and Recreation School.

    The swimming pool is a 25m lane pool with a toddlers pool on the side and is a fantastic asset for our personnel's fitness training or to bring their family to on a hot summer day.

  • Mess and cafe

    Base Woodbourne has a number of eating and recreational facilities. The messes provide freshly prepared food for our personnel for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    There is a Fernleaf Café on Base that provides food, drink and coffee throughout the working day. 

  • Airfield

    Woodbourne airfield is a joint civil/military airfield operated in conjunction with Marlborough Airport. The airfield is 165 hectares, including one paved runway and two grassed runways.

An Aircraft Technician performs maintenance checks on the rotorhead of a SH-2G(I) Seasprite helicopter air frame during Exercise Bluebird at Base Woodbourne. AIr Force recruits perform a physical routine in front of whānau and friends at their graduation. Seasprite helicopters on the flight-line at Base Woodbourne.


Civilian flying originally began in this location at Woodbourne farm, owned by the Walsh family. The land is located over the back of the current airfield. When the Fokker tri-motor ‘Southern Cross’ visited New Zealand it required a longer airfield than Woodbourne farm or Omaka could provide, so a new airstrip was established on the Fairhall brothers farm next door to Woodbourne farm. It was this location that later became RNZAF Station Woodbourne, and the original Woodbourne farm then became known as RNZAF Fairhall in WWII. The two locations seem to have swapped names over time.

After being a military and civil landing ground for some years, RNZAF Station Woodbourne was established for the Air Force just before the war and was designed as an operational station as well as a flying training facility. The station’s operational component was No. 2 General Reconnaissance (GR) Squadron, from September 1939 till March 1940. Later that squadron disbanded and moved north to Auckland to combine with 1 GR and 3 GR Squadrons, becoming New Zealand General Reconnaissance Squadron. At that time, the station became purely a training facility and performed this task throughout the remainder of the war.  

During 1942-43, Kittyhawk Fighter Squadrons used the satellite Fairhall field. In 1945 our RNZAF Central Flying School and some ground training units, including the Officers’ School of Instruction were relocated to Base Woodbourne. Later more movements were made, with the Aircraft Repair Depot RNZAF relocating from Ōhakea in 1949. By 1951 the Boy Entrant School was established at Woodbourne.

Today, Woodbourne is our Air Force's only support base and is the main hub for most of the RNZAF’s training apart from flying training which is based at Ōhakea. All RNZAF initial training for both Airmen and Officers and all RNZAF leadership training is conducted by the Command and Recruit Training Squadron (CRTS). Technical trade training is conducted by the Technical Training Squadron (TTS) and trade training for the support and mission-focused trades is conducted by Mission Support Training Squadron (MSTS). The New Zealand Defence College provides support for all training at Woodbourne and has established the Defence Physical Education and Recreation School on the west side of the Base.   

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Future work

Maintenance works over the next year include upgrades to Woodbourne’s Water Reservoir and Treatment Plant.

In 2021 New Zealand Army engineers constructed five new accommodation huts at Dip Flat Training Area. In 2022 six more new accommodation huts will be constructed.

All new buildings will aim for high sustainability ratings to improve energy use.

Contact us

General enquiries: 03 577 1599 

Media enquiries: 021 487 980