Auckland Airport (AKL IATA) is New Zealand's largest and busiest airport, with over 70% of international visitors to the nation landing or taking off there. Located in the country's largest city, Auckland, it is also a significant hub for air travel around Oceania.
The airport is in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere, on the shores of the Manukau Harbour, around 20 km (12 mi) south of the Auckland CBD.
The site was chosen for Auckland's new international airport in 1956. Until then, the site was the Mangere Aerodrome, used by an aero club, while commercial flights used Whenuapai Airport, north-west of Auckland (now RNZAF Base Auckland). Construction of the airport began in 1960, and included reclaiming land from the Manukau Harbour for the runway. Commercial flight operations were moved here in November 1965, and the airport was officially opened on 29 January 1966.
Auckland is the main hub for New Zealand's flag carrier Air New Zealand.
Auckland is ideally located for flights from cities in Oceania and South America. Many of the remote island nations in the Pacific Ocean are primarily connected via Auckland.
There are frequent services from other New Zealand cities and Australia. There are also non-stop flights from places in Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, the United States, Vancouver (Canada) and Santiago (Chile).
Auckland airport has two terminals: international and domestic.
The airport's original terminal, today it serves all domestic and regional flights. Jetstar operates from the western end of the terminal while Air New Zealand takes up most of the rest, with smaller regional airlines at the eastern end of the terminal. The domestic terminal is open from 4:30AM until 11:00PM daily.
Officially the Jean Batten terminal, the separate international terminal opened in 1977. The terminal was originally built with no airside separation between departing and arriving passengers; after 9/11, the terminal was extended and reconfigured to provide the required separation. This led to a split-level airside departures, with departing passengers having to go up to level 2 after duty-free and back down to level 1 to access gate lounges for gates 1-10. Check-in and half of arrivals (baggage claim onwards) is on the ground floor (level 0); most of departures, the other half of arrivals, and gate lounges for gates 1-10 are on level 1; and the remainder of departures (including gate lounges for gates 15-19) is on level 2.
The international terminal is open 24/7, however departures is closed overnight from the last flight until 90 minutes before the first flight.
Transport options from the airport to central Auckland and the suburbs include buses, shuttles and taxis. You can buy or top up an AT HOP card for city buses and trains at the Take Home convenience store at the international terminal (ground floor arrivals, next to door 8) or the AirGo convenience store at the domestic terminal (eastern end of terminal, next to Air New Zealand regional lounge).
A train service to the airport has been under discussion for years. A light rail line from central Auckland (Wynyard Quarter) via Mangere and Dominion Road is proposed but some believe an extension of the heavy rail network is more sensible.
SkyDrive Airport Express. A bus service that runs between the domestic and international terminals and SkyCity in the CBD every half hour. There are no other stops on the way and the trip takes about 40 minutes, but can be longer at peak times. Buy a ticket from the driver by card payment or from the SkyDrive website. $16 for adults, $14 for students, $8 for children and $12 for Supergold card holders.
Other bus services run to the suburbs. The AIR electric bus runs to Manukau City Centre via Puhinui, and the 38 bus runs to Onehunga via Mangere Town Centre; both run at least every 15 minutes during the day. A cheap option to get to the CBD is to take the AIR bus to Puhinui train station, from where trains connect to Britomart station in the CBD every 10-20 minutes. Total travel time is 45-50 minutes plus connection time; adult fare is $2.43 with AT HOP Card. The buses require an AT HOP card, so if you don't have one, buy it in the terminal.
Intercity run occasional coaches from Auckland to Hamilton via the airport, calling at both terminals for passengers with reservations. Other services require a change at Manukau.
Skip Bus operates bus services from Auckland Airport to major cities in North Island.
By taxi or shuttle
Shuttles for one person (as of April 2015) cost approximately:
- to central city $35; from central city $29
- to Papatoetoe $37; from Papatoetoe $31
- to Manurewa $45; from Manurewa $39
- to Howick $51; from Howick $45
- to Takapuna $48; from Takapuna $42
- to Henderson $51; from Henderson $45
Taxi fares to Britomart range from $38 (CheapCabs) to $90 (the top price for Corporate Cabs booked through Air New Zealand's taxi.co.nz).
The airport is 27 km (17 miles) south of the Auckland CBD by road via State Highways 16, 20 and 20A. Travel time is around 25-30 minutes off-peak, but can take 50 minutes or more during morning and afternoon peak.
Rental cars are very popular given the expense of using taxis in New Zealand. There are plenty of companies to choose from.
There are short-term and long-term carparks within walking distance of the terminals. There is also a park and ride facility with complementary shuttles that take a few minutes to the terminals – this facility can fill up so it is advisable to book ahead. The booking service will give quotes for all the airport-owned parking options. Aeroparks is a privately owned park and ride facility – it is advisable to book this too.
A free terminal transfer bus runs every 15 minutes between 5:00AM and 10:30PM and takes a few minutes. At the domestic terminal, the bus stops at stop C outside doors 2 and 3, opposite the Air New Zealand check-in. At the international terminal, the bus stops outside door 8 by the rental car counters. Look out for the lime green bus.
You can walk between the terminals by following the signposts and green line outside each terminal. The walk is around 800 metres (½ mile) and takes about 10 min at normal walking pace. The path is level, and you are permitted to take luggage trolleys between the terminals. The walk is uncovered and exposed to the weather.
If you are arriving on an international flight and through-checked to an Air New Zealand domestic flight, you can drop your bags at the Air New Zealand international check-in for transfer to your domestic flight up to 60 minutes before departure. For all other airlines, and Air New Zealand flights within 60 minutes of departure, you need to drop your bags at the domestic terminal.
The International Terminal after security is not too large, although the walk to the farthest gates (18 and 19) is around 800 metres (½ mile).
The International Terminal doesn't offer any great surprises to the experienced traveller, but the shops will keep you occupied for about half an hour. There are plenty of cafes at which to spend time and the views are pretty good.
There are three airline-operated lounges in the international terminal after security: Air New Zealand, Emirates, and Qantas. Auckland Airport also operates a pay-per use lounge, Strata Lounge.
In the domestic terminal, Air New Zealand has two lounges: the domestic lounge is located after security between gates 31 and 32, while the regional lounge is located at the eastern end of the teminal, near gates 34 to 50.
Eat and drink
The departures area on the upper floor of the international terminal has a food court and bar before security. There are more cafés and bars after security, including New Zealand pies, sushi, and coffee shops for a last hit of New Zealand espresso. The arrivals area on the ground floor has a McDonalds and a coffee shop.
The domestic terminal has a food court and bar on the ground floor.
The international terminal has ATMs on both sides of security. There is the usual collection of expensive shops and souvenirs on both sides of immigration. When arriving from overseas, you have to walk through a duty-free shopping area to reach baggage claim. The souvenir shops contain a good number of New Zealand items, including manuka honey, stuffed kiwi bird toys and rugby shirts.
The domestic terminal has several ATMs at various spots. A Westpac one is near the Jetstar desks.
- 1 Airport Shopping Centre, cnr George Bolt Memorial Drive and John Goulter Drive (20 minutes walk from the terminals). If you have plenty of time there is a Countdown supermarket and Warehouse department store.
There is free Wi-Fi for 30 minutes a day. Paid options are available if you want more.
Prepaid New Zealand SIM cards are available for passengers arriving from overseas. The ones sold in the duty-free area are slightly cheaper than the ones after customs.
Lockers are available in the terminal for $15 per day.
There are good children's bathrooms, with locked doors, curtained areas for baby feeding and even some small play areas.
Free showers are available for arriving international passengers, turn left when you come out of customs – bring your own towel. There are also free showers in both the international and domestic departures areas.
There is a small prayer room in the international departures area.
- 1 ibis budget Auckland Airport, 2 Leonard Isitt Drive (15-minute walk from terminals). Has family rooms that sleep 4. From $119.
- 2 Novotel Auckland Airport, Ray Emery Drive (across the road from the international terminal). 263-room hotel. From $259.
See also nearby hotels in South Auckland.
If you have time to kill, there is miniature golf about 1 km (15-min walk) from the terminal. It is complete with a hole on a pirate ship, which beats hanging around in the terminal for hours.
- 1 Butterfly Creek, 10–12 Tom Pearce Dr (10–15 minute walk from airport terminals). Daily (except 25–26 Dec). A tropical butterfly and moth house. Any time is good to see the butterflies but the best time is on sunny mornings. The butterfly house is warm and humid. Also has a few crocodiles and alligators, tamarin monkeys, dinosaur display, tropical aquaria, farmyard animals, a train for the kids and a cafe.