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Koru Lounges

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Introduction
The Journey Begins / Air New Zealand Koru Lounge, Christchurch (Domestic)
Queenstown Trip: Day One
Day Two – Milford Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand


My alarm went off at 4:30am: Funnily enough, at the exact same time as Miss. Kiwi Globetrotter‘s – and we hadn’t even coordinated alarms the night before! I guess that’s pretty good proof that great minds think alike 🙂

We’d both woken up early so there was time to pack the last lot of things we wanted to bring, before driving out to the airport – I was aiming to leave by about 5:30am to have a bit of early-morning breakfast in the Koru Lounge. Even though we each had a baggage allowance, we decided to take and share just one bag, to save carting bags around – we had decided that we didn’t need that much luggage anyway for an extended weekend, seeing as we both also had our cabin bags as well.

Packing always seems to take a little bit longer than usual and I always have a bit of a worry that I’ve forgotten to bring something, so I’ll check a few times before we leave home to ensure we’ve brought everything. Regardless, as I found out, I still managed to forget my mini day bag as I discovered later on that day, but that didn’t end up being too much of a problem in the end.

Introduction
Air New Zealand Economy Class, Wellington to Auckland
Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge, Auckland
Thai Airways Business Class, Auckland to Bangkok
Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge (Domestic), Bangkok
Thai Airways Business Class, Bangkok to Phuket
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, Phuket


After arriving into the Domestic Terminal of Auckland International Airport (AKL) at about 9:30am, we had a good couple of hours before our flight to Bangkok at 12:40pm.

For those unfamiliar with AKL airport, the Domestic and International terminals are separate from each other, however it is easy to get between the terminals: A transfer bus operates between each of the terminals and runs every 15 minutes; the bus operates between 5am – 10:30pm daily.
Alternatively, for those that prefer the exercise, there is a clear sign posted walking path between the terminals which will take you approx. 10min.

Map of Auckland International Airport, showing the two terminals and walkway between them
Map of Auckland International Airport, showing the two terminals and walkway between them

Being a beautiful sunny day in Auckland, and as we were only carrying our cabin luggage (as all our other bags were checked through to Phuket) we thought that we would walk to the other terminal and get some fresh air (there won’t be any shortage of recycled cabin air on this trip! ;)).

Just outside the Domestic Terminal at Auckland International Airport (close to where the transfer bus pickup area is)
Just outside the Domestic Terminal at Auckland International Airport (close to where the transfer bus pickup area is)

Green painted lines and plenty of signage mark the walkway path between the International and Domestic Terminal. Baggage carts are also able to be used for those carrying lots of baggage.

AKLint_Walkway1

AKLint_Walkway2

Shortly after arriving at the International Terminal, we decided to stop and fill in our departure cards, to be handed in at customs before security check and entering airside.

Inside the International Terminal at Auckland International Airport (Ground Floor Departures and Check-in counters)
Inside the International Terminal at Auckland International Airport (Ground Floor Departures and Check-in counters)

I always enjoy flying through Auckland International Airport as it is very efficient, easy to get where you need to go and find things.
As the main hub for travellers in and out of New Zealand, it isn’t too big either, and you don’t spend a small age walking to your gate.. which is always good especially if you’re running late!

It doesn’t surprise me that it has been rated best Airport in Australia-Pacific almost half a dozen times by Skytrax.

Upstairs in the International Terminal - Duty Free shopping throughout, departure boards and airport-provided help desks on hand for traveller assistance
Upstairs in the International Terminal – Duty Free shopping throughout, departure boards and airport-provided help desks on hand for traveller assistance
Sentinel dwarf statue designed and created by Weta Workshop promoting the Hobbit in the shopping and dining area
Sentinel dwarf statue designed and created by Weta Workshop promoting the Hobbit in the shopping and dining area
Entrance to customs, security check and departure gates
Entrance to customs, security check and departure gates

Customs was relatively quick, possibly due to our flight being after the early morning rush, as well as customs officers encouraging NZ and Australian passport holders to use the automated Smartgate system. It wasn’t long until we were through security and airside.

Airside at Auckland International Airport
Airside at Auckland International Airport

The lighted column behind the seating in the above photo had various ‘sea creatures’ projected through the turquoise coloured lighting simulating water, which I thought was interesting and gave a bit of ‘life’ to something usually quite ordinary – Also a hit with the kids!

It was only a short walk to the Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge (located on level 2) [Map], which is just past the major duty free shops (JR Duty Free / DFS Galleria).

Sign detailing the various lounges and  airlines using them
Sign detailing the various lounges and airlines using them
Entrance to the Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge
Entrance to the Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge

After our boarding passes had been scanned and checked over by the lounge staff, we were welcomed into the lounge.

Introduction
Air New Zealand Economy Class, Wellington to Auckland
Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge, Auckland
Thai Airways Business Class, Auckland to Bangkok
Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge (Domestic), Bangkok
Thai Airways Business Class, Bangkok to Phuket
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, Phuket


So Tuesday finally arrived, the first day of our big trip. My alarm went off at 5:30am but I didn’t get much sleep the night before as I was doing various last minute packing, and tidying up of the flat.

We had booked an airport transfer in advance the day before through Air New Zealand Taxis, who provide a variety of options for getting to/from airports in New Zealand, including by helicopter transfer in Auckland!
Our 2-person transfer cost $21.42 from the central city in Wellington, for a shared shuttle (the provider being supershuttle); interestingly, booking through this method is not subject to any credit card fees (bucking the trend surprisingly, as some of the credit card fees for booking flights via. AirNZ can be quite high) and also earn Airpoints Dollars (APD), although the amount earned is pretty small, for the journeys I’ve booked I’m pretty sure I’ve earned 1 APD.. but i guess every little bit counts, right? 😉

I arranged for the shuttle pickup to be 6:15am to allow for some time to get to the airport and check in, which I knew would take some time due to our international connections taking us all the way through to Phuket. At 6:15am the shuttle had not arrived (odd as most times they have been early) so we decided to wait a little while – By 6:25am I decided to call AirNZ Taxis and after about 5mins of being on hold, managed to get a hold of someone who checked with the driver and confirmed they would be there in about 2min. After pickup, it was a short ride to the airport and time to check in; plenty of buffer time meant we didn’t need to rush.

Wellington Airport lit up in the early hours of the morning - Our shuttle bus is just leaving to the right after dropping us off
Wellington Airport lit up in the early hours of the morning – Our shuttle bus is just leaving to the right after dropping us off

Check in was quick and uneventful, and took about 15mins; due to our international routing through multiple ports we were unable to use the check-in kiosks.

Air NZ self-service check in Kiosks - Not many people know this, but this is a Air New Zealand invention!
Air NZ self-service check in Kiosks – Not many people know this, but this is a Air New Zealand invention!
Check in line for at Wellington Airport for international travellers, or domestic travellers with Star Alliance international connections
Check in line for at Wellington Airport for international travellers, or domestic travellers with Star Alliance international connections

My main luggage bag was slightly over the standard limit of 23kg through Asia, however there were no problems with allowance due to our ticket and my status. We were issued with our boarding passes from Wellington all the way through to Phuket: a total of 3 flights, as well as the standard NZ customs form to be filled out for departure when leaving Auckland.

A couple of weeks ago, I flew to Gisborne, on the East Coast of the North Island in New Zealand for a work trip.

I have never actually been to this area of the country before, so was actually a little excited – Gisborne is one of the cities that sees the light of the new day in the World (it used to be the first city but Samoa moved across the International Dateline in 2011).

To get to Gisborne, I had a direct flight at 8:25am in the morning on NZ 2232. I figured leaving home at about 7am would give me a good hour or so in the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge for breakfast – After all, best to start the day off well 🙂

Wellington probably is my favourite Koru lounge on the Air NZ domestic network – It is reasonably sized, has plenty of seating, tables and areas for travellers to relax and work, an ample food selection, including hot/cold foods and fresh fruit, plenty of New Zealand wine and beer to drink, along with various spirits and mixers.

There is also a business centre, with desktops and printers available for use, a mobile phone charging station, bookable meeting room/quiet rooms, newspapers and magazines, and showers for you to freshen up before your flight.

I had some difficulty checking in at the ‘self check-in’ kiosks in the departure terminal, so proceeded to the Koru Lounge to check in there with my E-Pass. Upon entering the lounge, I scanned my ePass on the entry kiosks and was welcomed in my the concierge.

As I was travelling on a turboprop (propeller) aircraft to Gisborne, I was entitled to use the ‘Fast Bag‘ service, which allows frequent travellers (Gold Elite, Gold and Koru members) to drop off their bags at the aircraft just before boarding and pick them up right after landing, rather than having to wait for the bags to be unloaded and carted to the ‘baggage pickup area’ at the destination airport. In order to use the service each bag must weigh less than 15kg, and there is a maximum of 2 bags per passenger. As AirNZ has been quite strict with baggage limits (7kg) lately, particularly on their jet aircraft, I do find the fast bag service quite useful when available.
Air New Zealand has just changed the identification tags for fast bag, as previously there used to be a special blue tag obtainable from the lounge. However they have now recently changed this for a blue luggage ‘loop’ used with the provided luggage tags. I am not quite sure what inspired this change, but when I entered the lounge the concierge removed my old style tag and replaced it with the new one, which was nice.

Entrance to the Wellington AirNZ Koru Lounge
Entrance to the Wellington AirNZ Koru Lounge

Escalator leading up to the Wellington Koru Lounge
Escalator leading up to the Wellington Koru Lounge

At the entrance to the lounge
Entrance to the Lounge