We’re probably not telling you anything you don’t already know when we say “going to the airport” isn’t exactly on everyone’s bucket list. But just like every destination is different, so is every airport. And just as navigating a new city is challenging in and of itself, so is navigating a new airport. Should I go for Ivar’s chowder or Beecher’s mac & cheese at SeaTac? Do I have time to do yoga at SFO’s Terminal 2? How long will it take to get to ATL’s Concourse E for a cocktail at One Flew South?
If you’re anything like us, then these are the types of questions you have. But never fear, because we have answers to your airport questions with our series of guides to America’s airports. Today, we bring you the TripIt airport guide to Auckland Airport (AKL).
Auckland Airport is located on New Zealand’s North Island in the most populous urban area in the country, serving as New Zealand’s largest and busiest airport. AKL is located 12 miles south of Auckland itself, in a largely suburban area of the city, just beyond Mangere. It’s a domestic and international hub for Air New Zealand, and is also a hub for Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Qantas. It features two terminals, the international and domestic terminal, connected by a walkway (10-minute walk) or free transfer bus that operates every 15 minutes. The Airbus Express runs daily between the Auckland Airport and Auckland City Centre, though it’s just a 25-minute ride into the city by taxi. A number of major rental car companies are located in each of the terminal buildings. Wi-Fi is available for free for the first two hours to all visitors which can be instantly extended to three hours if you join Strata Club, Auckland Airport’s rewards program. You can also pay to use the Wi-Fi services for longer periods of time.
Travelers will be spoiled for choice with an outstanding selection of high-quality New Zealand and international dining options, all set in a modern and vibrant environment. Travelers flying through the domestic terminal can escape the pace of traveling at The Gipsy Moth with the down-to-earth atmosphere or tuck into a legendary chicken and waffle at Orleans. Hayama, a Japanese sushi restaurant, has a few locations around the airport. Grab fresh coffee at Takeoff Espresso. For an array of different types of sandwiches and light food options pop into Wishbone. You’ll also recognize a number of dining options such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, McDonald’s, Subway and Tank Juice.
The international terminal also features several popular New Zealand eateries. Before going through security screening, enjoy a fusion of Kiwi favourites and coffee at Long White Café. Oma Artisan Bakery & Café has been developed in collaboration with Auckland-based baker, Isabel Pasch. Other favorites like Dunkin’ Donuts, KFC, McDonald’s, Pita Pit and Tank Juice are also available. After security screening, experience the world-class passenger lounge and retail hub and indulge in offers including Better Burger, Mexico, Best Ugly Bagels and Aroha Café & Bar. Also in the mix is 400 Gradi, and Italian resultant by Melbourne award-winning celebrity chef Johnny Di Francesco. Glamp Grounds Bar & Kitchens offers an escape into the Kiwi outdoor campground with their innovative bar and eatery with play areas for children. There is also a range of Asian cuisine scattered across the terminal, including Hayama, Silk Road, Halong Bay and Popo Dumplings.
While most of Auckland Airport’s best options for a drink are in the International Terminal, you can find a full bar in the Domestic Terminal at The Bach Alehouse.
The International Terminal features several bars including the aforementioned 1958 Bar & Eatery which offers a number of different beers and wine from New Zealand. Mac’s Down Under Bar and Café is locally-inspired, featuring many New Zealand beers as well as local wine. Flight Bar is more of your staple airport bar, highlighted by a number of New Zealand beers many of which rotate seasonally.
Make sure to allow plenty of time for shopping, as Auckland Airport has everything you need under one roof. After security screening, you will find yourself right in the middle of the hustle and bustle duty free has to offer. Stock up on your favorite brands of perfume, cosmetics and skincare including: Chanel, Dior, Tom Ford and Benefit just to name a few. As you travel through you will find yourself in retail High Street with a selection of international brands. Treat yourself with leather goods from Furla, Coach, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, or a timepiece from Montblanc, Fossil or Partridge Jewellers. Upgrade your luggage at Tumi or pick out a new outfit from Hugo Boss, Lacoste, and Weekend Max Mara. If you are looking for New Zealand made gifts such as honey, wool, or alpaca clothing, UGGs or even supplements, be sure to visit our hand-picked speciality stores including Kiwi Discovery, Cape to Bluff, Merino Collection, TravelPharm and Icebreaker, just to name a few. Grab New Zealand made chocolate from Whittaker’s or intricate Jade jewelery from Mountain Jade.
A number of attractions are within just a few miles of Auckland Airport, such as Rainbow’s End Theme Park and Villa Marias Estate, one of New Zealand’s most award-winning wineries. Otherwise, you can be to Auckland Central Business District in less than 30 minutes.
Being a domestic and international hub for Air New Zealand, AKL naturally has Air New Zealand lounges in both the domestic and international terminals. Qantas also has a business lounge in the international terminal. All travelers to Auckland Airport can also access the Strata Lounge, which is available for a day rate, though you can save a few dollars by booking online.
Spencer is a seasoned food, drink, and travel writer who has written for publications from Outside Magazine to Travel + Leisure and Los Angeles Times. When he’s not traveling, he’s perfecting his favorite cocktails in his home bar. He chronicles his adventures (and cocktails) on his travel site, Whiskey Tango Globetrot.