Travel Comment

Ponderings on all aspects of travel - both at home and abroad.

Give me a good snack

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"Why is it," my wife asked in a sudden and quite uncharacteristic burst of irritation, "that you can get a decent snack in every airport in the country except Auckland?"

I think her annoyance was provoked by the fact that the special container of rather bad coffee she bought me while we waited for our flight from Auckland's domestic terminal had just leaked down the front of my shirt.

But it may also have had something to do with the fact that the muffin she got herself was expensive and incredibly tasteless.

It was certainly a dramatic contrast to what we experienced at Nelson Airport where the food - I had a huge chunk of yummy bacon and egg pie and Chris gobbled a fat slice of roast vegetable quiche - was relatively cheap and very tasty.

And, when I started to think about it, she was right. All the regional airports I've been through over the past few months - Nelson, Gisborne, Invercargill, Queenstown and Napier - have had snackbars offering really tasty food which doesn't cost the earth and is served by cheerful staff.

But at Auckland, by far the biggest airport and offering the widest range of food places, if I'm hungry I tend to go to McDonald's for a cheeseburger because at least that way I know what I'm getting and I don't have to mortgage the house to pay for it.

I freely concede I haven't been to all the food outlets at our global gateway, but there aren't any eating experiences I recall with pleasure.

The last time I got anything there - apart from the leaky cup of coffee - I paid the price of a small car for a cup of coffee and a so-called breakfast muffin which were truly execrable and served by a slovenly young woman who clearly hadn't slept well and wished she was somewhere else.

The time before that, I bought a pie and a pint in the bar and, while the beer was great and I seem to remember the service was cheerful, the pie had obviously been hanging around since the days of good old NAC.

So why the difference between my experience at Auckland and what I've found in the regions?

At a guess, the regional airports usually have only one food outlet so they exercise a bit of quality control in deciding who should run it.

But at Auckland there are - according to the airport website - 13 food outlets in the international terminal and 12 in domestic, so I'd imagine the airport company seeks to maximise revenue with the result that you tend to get big food franchises.

That's not to say that everything at Auckland airport is bad and all the regional airports are perfect. But, I'll tell you what, given the choice of lunch at Nelson or Auckland I'd choose Nelson every time.

What's your experience with food at airports in New Zealand?

- Jim Eagles

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