Index added so those interested in a particular part can jump straight there without scrolling through all the pages. Note there are lots more domestic flights within NZ not written up, so if you want info on something that isn't already here just ask - I may be able to help.
First up an early start from Auckland (AKL). Terminal fairly quiet. I used the quick check in and surprised it coped with multiple bookings to spit out a fistful of boarding passes. Wander off to the Koru Club for a coffee and find security is just opening at 6am. Quickly through and grab a coffee and newspaper in the short wait until flight is called for boarding.
Breakfast foods are out (naturally given the time) and 3 different fruit juices. I check the alchohol fridge and servery - 16 different beers, but only 3 wines (all white - the red not yet out on the bench).
At the quick check machine I noticed my row was full despite the a/c load looking fairly light, so I substituted my seat for another further back in an empty row (so less likely adjacent seats will fill). Those originally pre-selected in my original row must have changed seats or no-show, as that row was empty while my new row was full. So of course I swapped back again after clearing it with the FA.
Service is standard for NZ domestic one-class. Tea, coffee or water; a small cookie; and that's all. They do 2 runs with the hot drinks before collecting the paper cups and other rubbish.
The weather is partly cloudy, especially in the North Island; so not too many views of the mountains we fly past and over. As we land in Christchurch I see the NZ 747 there on its transit en route between Tokyo and Auckland.
The Christchurch Koru Club is rather small and crowded with 8 flights departing to all corners of the country within 15 minutes.
Breakfast foods are out (yes it is still early). The beer and wine check reveals 16 different beers and 9 different wines (including both red and white).
Short delay at the gate so as to avoid being blasted on the walk across the tarmac by the 3 departing aircraft at adjacent gates. As I walk across I see a hive of activity - in fact I have never seen Christchurch busier. Lots of aircraft both arriving and departing, plus the usual assortment of baggage trolleys, golf carts, refuelers, etc zooming around the tarmac. I can only imagine ground control and air traffic control flat out coordinating all this movement in such a small airport.
Board by stairs of course. Being a shorter flight, only one run through with hot drinks.
This is my first visit to the refurbished Koru Club at DUD. It is very good. While smaller than AKL or WLG it is at least as good, with lots of touches that make it better in some ways. Eg the minties, Speights on tap. It doesnt however, have a view which is a shame.
Mid-morning foods are out - a huge spread of cakes, cookies and sandwiches. With only a few flights I would guess there is ample left overs to feed all the workers in the airport if desired.
Beer and wine check - 19 different beers and 7 different wines.
Catch up on some messages on the computer terminals (the other Koru Clubs also have them) before its time to board. Security is at the gate. I recognise an american in the security queue even before he speaks - he is the only one removing shoes and belt (as well as emptying pockets). When he speaks to the screener the accent confirms my suspicions of his nationality.
The airport is undergoing some redevelopment so down some temporary stairs below the airbridges and then across the tarmac to board.
This flight is fuller than the other 2 flights above - perhaps 90% full instead of about 75%. Again my status and careful selection of seats when checking in provides an empty middle seat for more space.
The weather has clear enough to get great views of the Seaward and Inland Kaikoura Ranges, the Wairau Valley and Lake Grassmere and the edge of Marlborough Sounds.
While taxiing on arrival at Wellington I see the NZ Air Force's 757 preparing to depart.
The Wellington domestic Koru Club is one of my favourite lounges. Unfortunately I would only have time for an extremely brief visit. Still, this was long enough to do a beer and wine check - an astonishing 22 different beers and 7 different wines. Food consists of a wide selection of fruit, cheeses, bread rolls, 3 different salads, spreads (hummus, pesto etc), 3 different types of sushi, wraps and other assorted goodies. I think I've mentioned before that the NZ domestic setup works rather well for frequent flyers (with lounge access) - extremely limited inflight service is more than made up for by great lounges and more food and drink than you can shake a stick at.
Some of the artwork has been changed since my last visit less than a couple of weeks ago!
This flight is almost totally full - yet one of the few empty seats is in my row. Status really does make a difference
Cloud obscures both Mount Taranaki and the central volcanoes (Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro), but mostly clears when closer to Auckland.
KiwiFlyer, thanks for the updates. Love the wine/beer count-down!
BTW - small as Christchurch is, that lounge will ALWAYS hold a warm spot in my heart. When I was there in Jan '04 I stopped in to check email after flying down from Auckland. After snarfing down the food (pasta, salad, etc - much nicer vittles than UA RCC!) & the white wine whilst checking email on the free i-net, off I went to hotel blithely unaware I had left my paper F ticket (etc) back to America in packet sitting next to terminal.
The next day upon checking out at hotel I discover missing packet & in a panic call ANZ - please tell me it's electronic (nope). Me (thinking to self - OMG, how am I going to pay for a return F flight). Them - oh, your ticket etc was found at lounge & it's waiting there. When you fly out today to Queenstown you can pick it up. Saved!
But what particularly impressed me was that my domestic NZ flights & my int'l flights were on separate PNRs, so either the lounge guys or the cust svc staff figured out the 2 & knew I was coming back. That wouldn't happen in America! (or not often). When I checked in for my flight to Queenstown, the check-in agent also told me that my stuff had been found & 'don't forget to pick it up' at the lounge. And when I got to the lounge the same staff was working & when I walked in, before I had a chance to say anything, they said - oh here's your stuff!
So - free i-net, lots of booze (as mentioned by KiwiFlyer), good food (real food not snackies) - ANZ Clubs get 2 thumbs up from me!
On sep note - Queenstown lounge no big deal - a big room w/ oj, water, coffee, tea. But it's a small airport so that's not unexpected. Reminded me of Aspen airport.
The thing that amazed me on all my travels w/in NZ was how little time a) check-in; b) security, took.
PS - Alas, all my various internal NZ flights were 737s but totally full so no empty seats next to me. But - I did have a picture of Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in Lord of the Rings) on the cup of tea they gave me
The AKL koru club hasnt changed, except now 2 red wines out. Very poor that the busiest koru club has the least beer & wine options. Food in the middle of the day starts out similar to WLG koru club (see post #4) and then changed to scones, biscuits, cheese & crackers, and fruit.
Back through security to the props pier of the terminal. Its been slightly reconfigured since my previous prop NZ flight. A/c is just finishing refueling as we board. The best seats on the brand new Q300 are 1B then 1C - much more legroom. The worst seats are 1A and 1D - awkward angle for legs (tray table between seats forces forward but curvature of fuselage forces sideways). Load is light enough to get the best seat.
Very short flight so only water service. The cloud has cleared enough to see the volcanoes of Ruapehu and Taranaki, and also the oil rigs on approach to New Plymouth.
New Plymouth has a regional koru club (apart from being small the main difference to main koru clubs is no *Gold guests). As with the others there is keypad entry (get the daily code at check in). The terminal is small and basic, and reminds me of Kerikeri airport.
Beer and wine check - 2 wines, 5 different beers. No computer terminals (as with all the regional koru clubs), although there are ports to plug in your laptop and a printer. The magazine selection is okay, which means it is so much better than the main koru clubs.
While waiting for flight 2 private planes fly in wingtip to wingtip formation over the runway at a few feet off the ground before banking and landing on the grass runway at right angles to the sealed runway.
The flight is called early - one of the benefits of leaving from a small airport, if everyone has checked in and the a/c is ready then they can leave early. Flight is full, but I had managed to get a window and aisle seat (ie "A" seat). We have a fast taxi down the runway to the turn point. I see the reason for the fast taxi out the window - an approaching aircraft on final approach. So we spin around and quickly take off.
Again a water service, but this time also a hot drink.
As domestic airline lounges go, Air New Zealand's Koru Clubs are some of, if not the nicest domestic lounges I've ever been to. I have fond memories of the well stocked fridge and the great buffet in the CHC Club. Sadly, my recent visit to your fair country did not include Business Class travel on NZ.
Programs: BA Gold, BD Gold, PC Ambassador, SPG Gold
Queenstown beer/wine count!
Well, I happened to be passing through ZQN a couple of days ago, so I thought it would be rude not to keep everyone updated on the beer/wine count there!
6 beers and 3 wines. Now, don't ask me whether they were white or red, because I can't remember! They were all in the fridge though.
Didn't spend much time in the lounge, as initially I hadn't been given the pin code, so had to go right back to check-in to get it (security, if done at all, is done right at the gate before you board the aircraft, so practically the whole airport is "landside"), and once I got in there, I didn't really want anything and the view was much better from the airport cafe downstairs!
We took off to the West, right back over Queenstown and the captain reduced power after take-off in order for us to get a better and longer last look at the beautiful town and its surroundings, before we powered up and away over the mountains.
Auckland to Palmerston North (AKL-PMR) on NZ ATR72-500
The Auckland Koru Club is much the same as usual, but I notice a couple of changes to the beers (current count 15 different types) and the wines seem to have changed winery. One of the 2 coffee machines is out and so big queue for the working one.
Flights to everywhere are delayed by 10-20 minutes due to the inclement weather. The varying delays are causing confusion at the boarding pass check for the prop gates - they can't hear all the announcements and if haven't been phoned to advise they hold up the queue briefly while ring to check which flights are boarding.
Fortunately heavy rain earlier has eased to light drizzle so dont get wet walking across the tarmac to the aircraft. Flight is almost full with just a couple of empty seats.
Service is the usual water and once through with hot drinks. Sitting at the back and wanting coffee it wasn't until we'd started descent that I got a hot drink.
Cloud all the way but not too bumpy. We see through the gloom only when we are close to the airport, fly past and turn back into the wind to land. Fortunately not raining in Palmerston North either.
Palmerston North to Auckland (PMR-AKL) on NZ ATR-72-500
Check in. Forget to ask about paying the domestic $5 departure tax at check in so have to use the machines. Only coins allowed, so if don't have enough you'll need to change some money at the cafe or the small shop.
Get the code for the lounge. Its the standard regional lounge. Fairly basic with small drinks fridge, tea, coffee, water cooler, juices, biscuits, cheese and fruit.
Back downstairs to the gate. They check the BPs have the sticker for departure tax. Another full flight with only 1 empty seat. The low cloud is scudding past so we taxi down the runway slightly early, turn at the end and quickly take off into the murk. We get a few bumps along the way, but water tea and coffee served throughout. I get a sense we are flying higher than usual for a prop, perhaps to avoid the many building thunderstorms in our path?
We approach AKL across the Manukau Harbour and a fast short taxi to our stand. Dodge the raindrops to the terminal walkway and landside within 2 minutes walking.