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.
There are separate domestic and international terminals. A free bus runs between the terminals every 20 min and takes a few minutes. The walk is around 800 m and takes about 10 min. It is indicated by signposts and a green line to follow. The path is level, and you are permitted to take luggage trolleys between the terminals. The walk is uncovered and exposed to the weather.
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. A separate international terminal opened in December 1977.
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 Pacific Islands, the United States, Vancouver (Canada), Santiago (Chile) and Buenos Aires (Argentina). Air New Zealand flies right through from London (Heathrow Airport) with a stop in Los Angeles.
Qatar Airways flies nonstop from Doha in Qatar and Emirates flies nonstop from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; respectively they are the second and fourth-longest nonstop flights in the world by great circle distance since October 2018's reintroduction of the Singapore to Newark service. Emirates also operate flights with a stop in Bangkok, Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney.
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 24-hour Take Home convenience store in the arrivals area of the international terminal.
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.
Bus services run to the suburbs. The AIR electric bus runs to Manukau City Centre via Papatoetoe, and the 38 bus runs to Onehunga via Mangere Town Centre; both run every 15 minutes during the day. A cheap option to get to the CBD is to take the AIR bus to Papatoetoe Train Station, from where trains connect to Britomart station in the CBD. Total time approx up to 30 min wait for bus + 21 min for bus + up to 10 (peak) - 20 (offpeak) min wait for train + 31 min for train. Ask for the bus stop at the infocentre. It is very close to the exit from International.
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.
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 (at May 2014) range from $35 (CheapCabs) to $86.55 (the top price for Corporate Cabs booked through Air New Zealand's taxi.co.nz).
Hire 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.
The International Terminal after security is not too large, although the walk to the Emirates gates for the large A380s takes about 8 minutes.
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 several airline lounges, including an Emirates Lounge.
Eat and drinkEdit
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, Burger King, 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.
When departing, you might want to avoid going to your gate until you are called: the gate lounges are dismal, and the waiting area upstairs is much more pleasant, with a nice view of the Waitakere Range and Manukau Harbour.
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.