Heading to Auckland Airport? Our 'need to know' guide for the business traveller has the skinny on terminal layouts, lounges, airport hotels and insider tips.
Auckland Airport (AKL) is New Zealand's main international gateway and a useful trans-Pacific connection hub.
Situated towards the top of the North Island, you're likely to fly here to connect elsewhere in New Zealand or if you're transiting between international flights to North and South America or beyond.
Auckland's notorious traffic means you should leave plenty of time to get to and from the airport -- over an hour unless it's the middle of the night. Take advice from colleagues or your hotel concierge.
Free wireless internet is available throughout the domestic and international terminals: look for the Airport_Hotspot network.
Auckland is Air New Zealand's main international and domestic hub.
Other notable airlines include Emirates, which adds "tag" flights onto its Dubai-Australia Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER services, with direct Auckland flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Layout, terminals and connections
Auckland has two terminals: international and domestic.
International connections are relatively simple, but if Auckland is your arrivals airport in New Zealand you'l need to collect your luggage and clear immigrations, customs and biosecurity before making your way between the international and domestic terminals, luggage in hand.
The international and domestic terminals are around a ten-minute open-air walk from each other, following the green painted line, which is feasible if your luggage doesn't encompass more than a small rolling bag. There's also a five-minute bus transfer every fifteen minutes between 0500 and 2230.
Overall, Auckland's international terminal is modern, spacious and airy, while the domestic terminal is older and much of it could do with knocking down. The Jetstar side in particular is a real shed, but in fairness the Air New Zealand side isn't all that much better.
For detailed information and specific shops, check out the airport's maps page.
- Air New Zealand Koru Lounge (also available to Star Alliance Gold)
- Qantas International First and Business Lounges (also available to oneworld Emerald and Sapphire, respectively)
- Emirates Lounge
- Emperor Lounge, run by the airport, is a buy-your-way-in (NZ$49 if prebooked) lounge also used by other airlines
- Air New Zealand Koru Lounge
Only one airport hotel is within walking distance, and it's next to the international terminal: the Novotel Auckland Airport. It's the obvious choice for international passengers.
To and from the airport
Auckland Airport's public transport is awful, but navigating Auckland's traffic and streets is even worse -- there's no one motorway that gets you into the city, so you end up making your way through poorly signed suburbia.
The Airbus will cost you NZ$16 one way or NZ$26 return, stopping in several locations in the city.
Taxi fares are likely to be around NZ$60-NZ$80 for the city centre, depending on location and, more importantly, traffic. Don't be concerned when your taxi heads off the motorway and takes the back roads, since there isn't a direct freeway into the city.
Super Shuttle has a monopoly on airport shuttles in Auckland, so it's them or nobody. They're not much cheaper than a cab, so unless you're keen for a scenic drive around Auckland dropping everyone else off, you're best to skip the shuttle.
For more information, check out the airport's "to and from" page.
Insider tips and tricks
It's a real pain to get into and out of Auckland city. Consider organising meetings at the airport or in a halfway suburb like Ellerslie instead.
If driving, this is one city where a turn-by-turn GPS unit is a real bonus. We normally rely on smartphone maps, but not in Auckland -- get a proper GPS from your car rental company.
On arrival you can pick up a local SIM card for your phone or tablet from either Telecom or Vodafone, just after the arrivals door in the international terminal. Telecom has the better network coverage, but is slightly pricier. Overall, remember that making mobile phone calls in NZ is ridiculously expensive -- that's why Kiwis seem addicted to SMS!
When departing, international terminal Gates 5-10 are primarily used for larger planes from airlines that are not Air New Zealand or its Star Alliance partners. They're a decent 5-10 minute trek from security and the lounges when departing, so make sure you leave plenty of time.
The Novotel Auckland Airport is a minute's walk from the international terminal and is a fantastic hotel with a decent amount of meeting space. (Check out our review of the hotel for more information.)
The Novotel's restaurant, Square, is a real gem -- so if you have a long-ish layover consider nipping in for a bite to eat rather than relying on airport nosh or gambling on lounge food.
AusBT reader tips
If you're a frequent traveller through Auckland Airport, or even if you've just discovered a nifty trick about the place, now's your chance to share your insider knowledge with other AusBT readers.
Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter: we're @AusBT.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.