A Survival Guide to New Zealand’s Major Airports

Sometimes you end up spending way more time at the airport than you expected.

Remember that passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight is delayed or canceled for reasons beyond an airline’s control.

But if you find yourself in a situation where all you have to do is wait at the airport, it can be good to know exactly what’s going on around you.

Here’s a survival guide to New Zealand’s four main airports.

* What time should I arrive at the airport before an international flight?
* Airport and flight delays and lost luggage: how to survive the chaos of travel
* What to pack in your carry-on amid the chaos of travel

Auckland Airport

Auckland Airport is the largest and busiest in the country.


Auckland Airport is the largest and busiest in the country.

Getting There : Auckland Airport is located about 20 km south of the city center.

The AirportLink bus runs between the airport, Manukau bus station and Puhinui station. You will need a HOP card, which can be purchased from airport convenience stores.

You can also take the Route 38 bus service to Onehunga, again using a HOP card.

The SkyDrive Airport Express coach service takes you from the airport to SkyCity in central Auckland. Tickets can be purchased online in advance or on board from the driver (card only). It costs $16 one way and takes about 40 minutes.

Domestic and international terminals are in different locations. A free inter-terminal bus runs every 15 minutes, between 5:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. daily, the journey takes approximately 10 minutes. The gateway between the terminals is currently closed.

Food drink: In the domestic terminal, most options are before security – you have fast food giants McDonald’s and Subway, plus local favorites Best Ugly Bagels and Orleans Chicken & Waffles. There is also sushi, donuts and juices, as well as a few cafes.

After security there is a cafe and a grocery store.

Both domestic and international terminals at Auckland Airport offer a different experience.


Both domestic and international terminals at Auckland Airport offer a different experience.

In the international terminal, there are options before and after security. Before crossing there is a McDonald’s, Pita Pit and Tank Juice, as well as an artisan bakery and cafe.

After security there is yet another McDonald’s and Best Ugly Bagels, Hayama Sushi, Aroha Cafe and Bar and Vantage Bar.

Be aware that after 8:00 p.m. you have far fewer options – check the website to see what’s open.

Purchases: There’s not much inside — a few convenience stores, a Sunglass Hut, and a 3 Wise Men’s clothing store.

At the international terminal, you will find the official All Blacks store before the security check and a mini market. After security there’s The Loop Duty Free, a gift shop, a convenience store, and a handful of designer boutiques, including Adidas, Fossil, Hugo Boss, Icebreaker, MAC Cosmetics, and Michael Kors.

Both terminals have The Mall, where you can order online and collect your purchase at the collection point.

Wireless: You benefit from a free and unlimited Wi-Fi connection on both terminals.

Showers: There are free showers in international and domestic terminals.

Luggage store: Secure Travel offers luggage storage services at the International Terminal and self-service luggage storage at the Domestic Terminal, located on the ground floor of Parking R. Lockers are operational 24/7.

Families: Master bedrooms are located throughout the airport, before and after security. These have a baby chair, a microwave oven, a bathroom and a changing area.

Living room: In the international terminal there is also the Strata Lounge, where you can pay for access to food and drink, showers, children’s play area and private relaxation rooms. It is currently only open to airlines, but will reopen to the public on August 1.

Sleeping: The international terminal is open 24 hours a day, while the domestic terminal is open from 4:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Novotel Auckland Airport is located right next to the international terminal and ibis budget Auckland Airport is a short walk away.

There are more hotel options in the area, many of which offer free shuttles to and from the airport.

Wellington Airport

You can enjoy many local dishes at Wellington Airport.

Jericho Rock-Archer / Stuff

You can enjoy many local dishes at Wellington Airport.

Location: Wellington Airport is located 8 km from the CBD.

The Airport Express bus takes you between the airport and Wellington train station, with stops along the way. You can pay on board with a Snapper card, cash, or contactless debit or credit card. It currently costs $3.75 one way when using a Snapper, or $4.50 for other payment methods. The journey between the station and the airport takes about half an hour.

Food drink: Once you’ve checked in to your flight, you’ll find the vast majority of your dining options on the main mezzanine – you’ll want to make the most of it before going through security (for domestic and international flights), as there are has very little on the other side.

Many local restaurants are represented here, including Best Ugly Bagels, Gorilla Burger, TJ Katsu, and the classic Cafe Mojo. You can enjoy a craft beer from Fortune Favors or United Brew Works, or get a specialty coffee (or hot chocolate) from Three Quarter Society. There’s even a Ben & Jerrys scoop shop, to satisfy your pre-flight ice cream cravings.

In the international departures lounge there is a Mojo and a Subway, and inside there is a post-security coffee kiosk.

Purchases: Pick up locally made goods and artwork prints at the Te Papa store. There are also a few popular clothing store outposts – Witchery, Icebreaker, Trenery and 3 Wise Men. The Relay convenience store can be found in both the main mezzanine and at international departures, as well as a Lotte Duty Free store.

Wireless: Free Wi-Fi is available.

Showers: Free showers are available in the toilets on level 1.

Luggage store: Storage lockers are located on level 1 of the multi-level car park near the motorcycle parking area. These can be rented for half or full days, starting at $5 for a small size and $10 for a checked bag.

There’s also oversized baggage storage – to access this, head to baggage carousel 1 on level 0, where there’s a phone on the wall you can use to call the operations team. This service starts from $20 for half a day.

Families: A master bedroom is located on level 1 in the main terminal, with a diaper tray, changing table and seats for feeding.

Sleeping: The airport is open from 3 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. There is a hotel directly connected to the hotel – Rydges Wellington Airport, where you can enjoy great views of planes taking off.

Christchurch Airport

Christchurch Airport is well equipped for families with 13 master bedrooms.


Christchurch Airport is well equipped for families with 13 master bedrooms.

Location: Christchurch Airport is located approximately 12 km from the city center.

You can travel between the airport and the city center and other suburbs using one of three regular Metro Bus services that take you directly to the airport – route 3, route 29 or route 125. You can pay on board using a Metrocard or cash.

Food drink: In the main food court on Level 1 there is a Burger King, Wishbone, Tank Juice, Underground Coffee and Number Eight cafe and bar.

At international departures there’s Alps Bar & Pizza, and at domestic departures there’s Icons Cafe and a pop-up bar from local legends at Brasserie Cassels.

A short walk from the terminal is Spitfire Square, a shopping area with more dining options including BurgerFuel, Little India, and The Coffee Club.

Purchases: A few stores are in the Level 1 food court, including the official All Blacks store, Sunglass Hut, and Global Culture.

At international departures there is Aelia Duty Free, the TikiTour gift shop and a Whittaker store.

There are also convenience stores at the domestic and international terminals. And in Spitfire Square there is a supermarket and a pharmacy for last minute products.

Wireless: Free and unlimited Wi-Fi is available.

Showers: Showers are available at check-in, international departures and international arrivals.

Families: There are 13 master bedrooms throughout the terminal, equipped with changing tables and other facilities.

Sleeping: The terminal opens at 3am and closes after the last scheduled flight. The closest hotel is the Novotel, located outside International Arrivals. Sudima Airport Hotel and Jucy Snooze are a short walk from the terminal.

Queenstown Airport

Here's what you need to know if you're stuck in New Zealand's most scenic airport.


Here’s what you need to know if you’re stuck in New Zealand’s most scenic airport.

Location: Queenstown Airport is located 8 km from the city center in Frankton.

You can use the Orbus public bus service to get to and from the airport – bus number 1 has a stop right outside the airport. If you have a Bee Card, it will cost you $1, and if you pay cash, it will cost you $5 (thanks to current half-price public transport fares).

Food drink: Before security there is the Airspresso cafe and bar, Patagonia Chocolates (a popular coffee outpost in town) and Hikari Sushi. There is another Airspresso in the international departures lounge and a smaller pop-up in the domestic departures area.

Purchases: There’s the Remarkable Sweet Shop, Kapa Gift Shop, Global Culture, a sportswear boutique, and a Paper Plus. In international departures, there is Aelia Duty Free.

Wireless: You get 2 GB of free Wi-Fi per 24 hours.

Showers: There are no showers but the Queenstown Events Centre, which does have showers, is a 15 minute walk from the terminal.

Luggage store: Storage lockers that can be reserved for a 12-hour period are located outside the terminal near the departure and check-in areas. There is a range of sizes, from $7 for a small locker to $20 for a giant locker.

If no locker is available or you need more space, you can go to the information desk at the airport and they will store your items for a fee.

Families: A master bedroom is located next to international arrivals, with facilities including changing tables, microwaves and toys. There is another master bedroom after security in the international gate lounge.

Sleeping: The terminal is open from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are several hotels nearby, including the Holiday Inn Queenstown Remarkables Park Hotel and the Sudima Queenstown Five Mile.

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