I had to make a quick trip over to Melbourne and will be here for two days to speak at a conference and take care of some work things. I flew out of Auckland at 5:30 PM and was worried that the airport might be hectic with business travellers heading out. I arrived to the airport at 4:05PM — got an Australian Visa, checked in and checked my bag, went through immigration and security, bought a muffin and a cup of coffee, and still arrived to my gate less than half an hour later!
The NZ airports are the most efficient I’ve ever seen. Security lines are short and immigration is a very efficient combination of automation and manual. I’ve flown through Auckland and Wellington many times since I got here and always marvel at how painless it is.
But if you’re coming in to New Zealand and you’re bringing food or plants or you’ve visited farmland beforehand then expect to meet some of the cutest biosecurity beagles you’ve ever seen and be prepared for some questioning. NZ is really strict with what it allows into the country and is very serious about ensuring that the NZ economy (hugely farming and dairy) are protected. My sister came to visit a few weeks ago and they put her in a special line since she brought her hiking boots with her and she has a horse. The customs guy took her boots into the back room and washed them for her before approving her for entry!
The Wellington airport has the added benefit of gifts from the Weta Workshops — the company that made many of the props and special effects for the Lord of the Rings movies. They created several incredible displays for the airport including Smaug, Gandalf and Gollum. The airport even calls itself the Middle of Middle-Earth airport. The pic below is from the Wellington airport, how cool is that?