Airport review: Auckland Airport, New Zealand

THE FLIGHT

NZ103 to Sydney, economy class

THE ARRIVAL

Auckland Airport is set 25 kilometres outside the city centre, which isn't much in the grand scheme of things, though in a compact city such as this it does feel like a bit of a trek. There are several public transport options for making your way out there, including a SkyBus from the city centre and North Harbour, and the 380 Airporter bus run by Auckland Transport. For ease of use I'm opting for an Uber, which takes about 20 minutes from inner-city Ponsonby.

THE LOOK

Though Auckland is the busiest port in New Zealand, it's still relatively modest by world standards, with just one international and one domestic terminal. The international facility is appropriately petite, though it never feels too cramped, with easy access and plenty of seating.

CHECK-IN

I've checked in online for my flight to Sydney and with only carry-on luggage to worry about I'm sailing straight off to security and passport control.

SECURITY

There's only a short wait here, and the passengers are all processed with typical Kiwi good humour.

FOOD AND DRINK

Auckland Airport isn't huge, so you don't expect too much on the food and beverage front – but there are some great places to eat here. Try 400 Gradi, an outlet of Johnny Di Francesco's famed Melbourne pizzeria. Or check out the sushi at Hayama – solid. This being New Zealand, the coffee at places such as Retro Espresso is also reliably good. Aside from that, you have the usual American fast food joints, and a few casual eateries that are hit and miss.

RETAIL THERAPY

There's nothing here that's particularly special or inspiring, though of course you'll be able to find all of the usual Kiwi- and All Blacks-flavoured souvenirs at several shops, as well as duty-free booze, electronics and cosmetics, a few local apparel stores, including Icebreaker, and the high-end likes of Hugo Boss, Coach and Mont Blanc. There's also online shopping available if you want to make your choices ahead of time.

PASSING TIME

If you have a long layover, there's good news: Auckland Airport has two hotels close by, a Novotel and an Ibis, both of which offer free transfers. If you'd rather not plump for a hotel, the international terminal is open 24 hours a day, with public bathroom and shower facilities, though no dedicated spots to grab some sleep. Free Wi-Fi is available through both terminals.

ONE MORE THING

Auckland Airport's facilities aren't limited to the terminals themselves: at Leonard Islett Drive, just a short walk or shuttle-bus ride away, there's the Airport Shopping Centre, which has, among other things, banking facilities, a post office and a medical centre, plus the area also boasts a selection of cafes and restaurants, a gym and a pharmacy.

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THE VERDICT

Auckland Airport is much like the country it services: friendly, compact, and the cause of very little hassle. There are few facilities to match the likes of the major Asian hubs, but then you wouldn't expect them from an airport this size. What Auckland does, it does well.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

3.5

Ben Groundwater travelled at his own expense.

See also: The world's best airport just got a lot better

See also: Airline review: In Air NZ premium economy you can still get stuck in a middle seat

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