Often the biggest hassle about going overseas comes at the beginning: the trip from home to Auckland International Airport.
Inside, the airport may be a model of efficiency. The departure area works smoothly and the newly opened arrivals area is even better than the old one. It's been a long time since I was caught up in the sort of processing delays that seem the norm at places like Brisbane and Sydney, Los Angeles and Heathrow.
But outside, the picture is not so rosy. The roading system is a disgrace, public transport links are almost non-existent and parking is horrendously expensive.
I haven't ever tried to make the trip from Devonport by public transport but, to judge from Maxx, the Auckland Regional Transport website, it's just as well.
I asked Maxx how I could get to the airport by 8am, which was the check-in time for my most recent flight. The best it could offer was to start the afternoon before, getting the 3.34pm bus to Devonport Wharf, the 4pm ferry to Auckland, walk 282m to Britomart, catch the 4.04pm train to Middlemore, walk 189m to a bus stop on Middlemore Hospital Rd, catch the 5.16pm bus to the airport, arriving at 5.45pm, then presumably sleep the night on airport couches, rising at 7am to freshen up and have a coffee and a muffin before checking in.
The transport was quoted at just $14.80 which is probably less than you would have to pay for the coffee and muffin.
There is also the Airbus which I used to catch regularly from opposite the Ferry Building.
It costs only $15 one-way, but I got tired of the tour of inner city backpacker accommodation followed by the slow drive through congested suburban streets. (Airbus says it takes about 60 minutes but that obviously depends on traffic).
These days, I have to admit I mainly use taxis, though they cost $80-$90, and occasionally the Auckland Airport Shuttle, which is quite a bit cheaper at about $40 from the North Shore, although naturally it's a bit slower. Or you could take your car, but then you've got to leave it somewhere - and that's not cheap.
The airport charges $24 a day for uncovered parking (covered parking costs $32-$36 a day).
The cheapest option if you need to leave your car for a fortnight is $149 at the long-stay uncovered park which is a bit of a trek from the international terminal.
Fortunately, there are also a few companies offering airport parking services which give travellers a choice.
For instance, Ascot 58 Parking advertises secure indoor parking and a free shuttle to the airport for only $14 a day. And Skyway Airport Parking's services include long-term uncovered parking for $120 a fortnight.
Now Air NZ has entered the fray with a service which costs $10 for uncovered parking (covered is $12), presumably adding up to $140 for a fortnight, with a free shuttle service to and from the airport.
All the parking companies offer a range of options, varying according to time and type of parking, so it's worth your while to shop around. But at just $10 a day it's again an economic proposition to drive to the airport.
It may not be politically correct but so long as the public transport options are so hopeless, the car - private or taxi - will continue to be the only effective option for most of us.
- Jim Eagles
What do you think? Do you have tips for getting to the airport on public transport or saving money on airport parking?
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