AKL (Auckland, NZ) airport-related thread

Old Oct 12, 04, 3:03 pm
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AKL (Auckland, NZ) airport-related thread

I have been asked a few times lately how much time to allow to get to the airport, and especially for the early flights to Australia.

Currently, and for the next year, central Queen Street is undergoing extensive roadworks. If travelling by cab avoid Queen Street if at all possible. For airbus add an extra 15 minutes to the travelling times given below.

From central city to airport

Link to handy Auckland traffic monitor and webcams. Note the route from central city to airport includes a cross-town section off the motorways (which is unmonitored thin white line on map).

Taxi
During normal office hours allow 40-50 minutes from central city to airport. On rare occassions when traffic is light the whole way it may take as little as 30 minutes. During peak hours allow an extra 15-30 minutes. Currently peak traffic is from 7:30 to 9:00am and 3:00 to 6:00pm.

Outside normal office hours (+ rush hours) allow 30-40 minutes, but it can be as quick as 25 minutes.

Taxis can be ordered by phone, by pick-up at one of the many taxi ranks in the central city, by hailing a passing taxi. All major hotels' concierges will order one quickly if needed.

Allow a lot longer if using a shuttle as these may have stops (and detours) between city and airport.

From central city to airport in a reasonable quality taxi you will be looking at around $60 +/- this assumes traffic isnt too bad. Can be less (maybe $50) if go for cheaper discount taxi and more for premium taxi (maybe $70). If the traffic is bad, factor in the "waiting" charge (while not moving) of around 99 cents a minute.

Going the other way (airport to central city) add an extra $6 airport levy.

If you are likely to use taxi both from and to the airport, you can usually get a discount (10-20%) by pre-booking the return trip directly with the driver.

Shuttles are considerably cheaper, but as mentioned above may make extra stop en route and need to be booked a little in advance (taxis can be hailed or if called in should arrive within 5-10 minutes, maybe a little more at peak hours).

All amounts are in NZD and incl GST. Tipping is not expected but taxi drivers wont say no if you round up.

Bus
The main public transport to the airport is Airbus (www.airbus.co.nz). The bus does have large luggage racks.

Effective 1 August 2007 the route through the central city has changed considerably (different direction and runs down different roads), and the number of stops has been reduced. New airbus route map.

This stops at many locales in the central city in a loop before heading out to the airport. The last few city stops are Airedale Hotel (upper Queen Street), City YHA (behind the Langham Hotel). There are also stops near the top of Symonds Street (not recommended as it is a major bus stop and hard for driver to see you) and several along Mt Eden Rd.

Other stops are earlier in the loop (eg near most backpackers, Sky City, Crowne Plaza, etc).

Currently fare is $15 one way or $22 return. Discount for back-packers.

Runs every 20 minutes except in evenings when it is every 30 minutes. Due to traffic conditions it can be much less or more than 20 minutes between buses though. Service city->airport runs from 5:00am to 8:50pm, while airport->city runs from 6:00am to 10:00pm.

If getting on at one of the last city stops allow 35-45 minutes, again more at peak hours. If getting on at one of the earlier stops allow an extra 10-15 minutes for the city loop part. From the city, if going to international terminal allow an extra 5 minutes - the bus stops at Air NZ & Qantas domestic terminals first before heading to international.

Note there is currently a discount coupon for $1 off printable from their website - valid until 30 September 2007.

There is also a public bus from Manukau. See www.maxx.co.nz for more information including connections from elsewhere in the city.


From other parts of the city to airport
Unless you want to change bus/ferry/train the main option is taxi. Allow more time (and more $) from North Shore, less from Manukau, etc.


Between domestic and international terminals at AKL

Note that Air NZ operates an international shuttle flight from Christchurch to Auckland in the late evening and from Auckland to Christchurch in the early morning. These flights use only international terminals so this section does not apply.

Domestic and international terminals are several hundred metres apart at AKL. International terminal serves all international flights from AKL. There is 1 domestic terminal and now only 1 airbus stop (the old bus stop by Qantas end of terminal is no longer used). From the bus stop, turn left for Air NZ with closest for main trunk jet services and far end for Air NZ Link (Air Nelson and Eagle Air) as well as commuter airlines, and turn right for Qantas.

Arriving at domestic terminal, the first entrance is where commuter airlines have check-in and entrance to their gates (gates also used by Air NZ Link - NZ flights with 4 digit flight numbers - but check-in is at the second entrance) , the second entrance is for Air NZ and Air NZ Link check-in counters and self-check kiosks (separate counters for Air NZ Link), the third entrance is by the Air NZ main trunk jet baggage claim, the fourth entrance (by the bus stop) is by the eateries and security checkpoint, the fifth entrance is for Qantas check in and the sixth entrance is for Qantas baggage claim.

Arriving at the international terminal, first is departure section and far end is arrivals. At the beginning of departures is miscellaneous airlines, then group check-in, Qantas premium check-in room, then One World and miscellaneous airlines, then Air NZ check-in and finally Air NZ premium check-in room. There are signposts of each airline roughly according to where their check-in is located.

Shuttle bus
A free shuttle bus regularly visits both terminals - every 10 to 20 minutes. It takes 5-10 minutes for a full circuit. Stops are clearly signposted and immediately outside the arrivals exit from the terminal.

Walk
There is a marked and clearly signposted path between the terminals - follow the blue line. This takes about 10 minutes and gives a close up view of parts of the airport you dont normally see. Only some of the path is covered so not good in inclement weather - it is however well lit.

Tip - if taking the airbus from city to international terminal, and the bus is full of people taking domestic flights, it can be quicker getting out at Air NZ terminal (the first stop at the airport) and walking across to international terminal. This also used to work in reverse, but is unlikely to do so now that Airbus no longer has a second domestic stop.

All airport trolleys are free and you can use them to take luggage between the terminals.

Taxi
Not recommended. There is a fixed fee of NZD$15 for transfer between terminals, and it will only be marginally quicker than walking.

Baggage procedure int->dom
All arriving international passengers need to collect bags after immigration and pass customs check and x-ray. Declare any food or other items you are unsure of. If you bring any disallowed items (even mud on hiking boots) and dont declare it you may be fined on the spot $200, and face larger fines and even jail if it is serious enough. There are amnesty bins before you get to the officials if you want to dump anything.

Once clear x-ray you enter the public part of terminal. If travelling on Air NZ (or Air NZ Link) then turn hard left immediately you get landside to recheck bags and pick up boarding pass (assuming you dont already have these). If travelling on any other domestic airline just head straight for the relevant domestic terminal (see above). If walking, then once outside turn right and past all the check-in areas and follow the blue line to the terminals, or if wanting to take the free shuttle turn left outside and the shuttle/Airbus stop is just near the exit. If taxiing then either pass through the transfer desk area and out the door at the end of the terminal (taxis will be in front of you) or go out the main exit and turn left but continue past the shuttle/Airbus stop and around the corner of the terminal.

Baggage procedure dom->int
If your bags are checked right through then proceed directly to international terminal. Otherwise collect bags first and will need to check in at international terminal.


Between Qantas and Air NZ domestic flights
Most likely will need to collect any checked bags and check in again with the other airline. The domestic terminal is now all one terminal.

zzz

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Aug 1, 07 at 12:24 pm Reason: updated
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Old Oct 12, 04, 3:41 pm
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AKL airport stuff

AKL website including flight boards and news of the ongoing renovations

Departure tax
Currently $25 for all pax leaving NZ, except for children (under 12?) and for transit pax who are in NZ less than 24 hours and have the exemption sticker. Unlike most air travel taxes this is payable at the airport and not bundled into the ticket price. Some (NZ-based) TAs will collect the money and add the sticker. Otherwise you have to pay in person at one of the BNZ (Bank of NZ) branches - two downstairs behind check-in (they are side by side), one small bureaux de change downstairs just past where arrivals enter landside (thanks jarinzfin ^ for finding this one), and one upstairs by the entrance to the customs & immigration hall - or at elite check-in desk (see below for more details). Non-elites non-premium passengers, unless pre-paid through TA, will need to use BNZ to pay the departure tax as check-in will not collect payment. There are now also machines next to the downstairs BNZ branches which dispense the departure tax stickers upon payment by Mastercard, Visa or any New Zealand issued ATM card according to the signs (note I haven't checked this and am slightly sceptical as the BNZ ATM machines in the terminal do NOT accept all New Zealand issued ATM cards whereas non-airport ATMs do).

While some savvy travellers will skip past the queues at the downstairs BNZ to pay at the upstairs one, there are enough folk that are well aware of it that the queues there are sometimes longer than downstairs. YMMV.

The BNZ offices open at 4:30am (around the same time as customs & immigration) - due to the number of early flights there are big queues when they open. Not sure when they close - presumably just before the last flight departs.


Elite check-in
Both Qantas and Air NZ have elite check-in area (quite separate to the main queues and group check-in).

As there are a number of flights to Australia leaving at similar times with a high number of business travellers (higher proportion of elite and business class), there are times of the day when even elite check-in area has queues, although will still be quicker than standard check-in. These particularly busy times are for the 6-7am flights and the mid-afternoon flights.

Qantas
Available for use by business and first passengers on Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Lan Chile, also OW sapphires and emeralds.

Can pay $25 departure tax at check-in but only credit card accepted. For the early flights they dont have stickers so need to visit the BNZ - YMMV.

Dedicated immigration officer within the facility - but starts sometime around 5:30am. Gives you an express sticker. You still need to queue at customs & immigration hall - this is changing at the moment due to renovations - believe there soon will be an express lane again, although at busy periods (eg 4:30am) will still have queues to get to where you are directed to express or regular queue.

Air NZ
Available for use for business and Star Gold passengers on Air NZ. Not available for *G on Singapore Airlines or Thai flights unfortunately - hopefully one day the computer issues will be sorted. As SQ no longer uses NZ as ground agent it may be a long wait

Can pay $25 departure tax at check-in either in cash or by credit card.

Dedicated immigration officer. Once done head up the internal escalator to bypass the main customs & immigration hall - comes out just before security check. This passage-way bypasses all landside shops.

Other airlines
No special check-in but dedicated premium pax line(s). Generally allow payment of $25 departure tax at check-in, in cash (note I havent tried all carriers so YMMV).


Busy times for AKL International terminal departures
Scheduled departure times. Busy period at check-in will be 1 to 2 hours earlier, and at immigration 30 minutes to 2 hours prior.

07:00-11:00am
02:00-03:30pm
04:30-05:30pm
06:00-07:00pm


Busy times for AKL International terminal arrivals
Scheduled arrival times. Busy period at customs and immigration will be up to 30 minutes later.

00:00-02:00am
05:30-06:30am
08:00-09:00am
10:30-02:00pm
03:00-05:30pm


more to be added

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Jun 16, 07 at 7:46 pm
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Old Oct 12, 04, 7:18 pm
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You can also pay the tax at the QF elite check-in area (but not regular check-in), saving the need to queue at the BNZ branch which tends to have rather long queues, particular at the first one (often much shorter queues at the 2nd one, proving that people have a lot in common with sheep, at least at airports).
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Old Oct 12, 04, 7:23 pm
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Sorry havent got to that part yet - have now. Sometimes I see the downstairs queue is larger than upstairs, sometimes vice versa, and sometimes I cant tell because I dont see the upstairs queue (due to going through Air NZ premium check-in and bypass ).

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Oct 12, 04 at 7:38 pm
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Old Oct 12, 04, 8:03 pm
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Good stuff, KF!

2 things that I can think of:

- The QF premium check-in area is also available to CX flights.
- I seem to have read somewhere that departure tax can also be paid at a shop (Foreign Exchange?) near the Arrivals area. Can you check it out the next time you go through if you remember? Since it's at a highly logical location, no one knows about it... Then again, I may just be confusing it with something else.

P.S. AKL duty-free has very good prices, especially the land-side shops.
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Old Oct 12, 04, 8:20 pm
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Updated.

Yes duty free is competitive at AKL, although seems to be slipping a little with the rise in NZD.

Not sure where you mean to check out. At the arrivals exit ground floor there is WH Smith, Flight Centre, MacDonalds, a pharmacy, Vodafone, florist and a luggage place. Cant think of anything else?

Are you thinking of the BNZ office (which is opposite check-in ground floor)? May seem like near arrivals if you are used to checking in at Qantas premium check-in facility (at the other end of check-ins)!
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Old Oct 12, 04, 10:31 pm
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Thanks so much for this information Kiwi Flyer. My wife and I are coming to New Zealind next April and this answers some of the basic logistical questions I had. One more, what's the typical taxi fare from the Auckland Hilton to the airport?

Thanks
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Old Oct 12, 04, 10:46 pm
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<moved to top of thread>

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Oct 13, 04 at 5:37 pm
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Old Oct 13, 04, 12:29 am
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer
Not sure where you mean to check out. At the arrivals exit ground floor there is WH Smith, Flight Centre, MacDonalds, a pharmacy, Vodafone, florist and a luggage place. Cant think of anything else?

Are you thinking of the BNZ office (which is opposite check-in ground floor)? May seem like near arrivals if you are used to checking in at Qantas premium check-in facility (at the other end of check-ins)!
Is there something near the Flight Centre (at least that side of the terminal, and not the BNZ side)? I seem to recall some tiny one-counter Foreign Exchange operation...?
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Old Oct 13, 04, 12:32 am
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I assume you're going to include information on transfer between the international and domestic terminals eventually?

I'm happy to write that bit if you don't have time.
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Old Oct 13, 04, 9:32 am
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You read my mind - dom->int transfer was going to be next!
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Old Oct 13, 04, 2:14 pm
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Usually the fastest way to pay the departure fee is the small BNZ kiosk outside arrivals downstairs, between the cafe and the arrivals exit, hardly any people queuing there
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Old Oct 13, 04, 2:48 pm
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Originally Posted by jarinzfin
Usually the fastest way to pay the departure fee is the small BNZ kiosk outside arrivals downstairs, between the cafe and the arrivals exit, hardly any people queuing there
That may be what I was thinking about...
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Old Oct 13, 04, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by jarinzfin
Usually the fastest way to pay the departure fee is the small BNZ kiosk outside arrivals downstairs, between the cafe and the arrivals exit, hardly any people queuing there
Hmm didnt notice that one

The fastest way though is through TA (sticker couriered along with tickets).
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Old Oct 13, 04, 5:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Leumas
I assume you're going to include information on transfer between the international and domestic terminals eventually?

I'm happy to write that bit if you don't have time.
Added but havent put in check-in and luggage procedures in respect of transfers.

Edited to add - baggage procedures are now added to the OP.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Oct 14, 04 at 4:09 pm
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