The greeting: Supremely welcoming, full of helpful info, but equally unobtrusive. They were very efficient despite having only opened the lounge 48 hours earlier (you could still smell the new leather).
What's there: The new Air New Zealand Lounge is on the second level of the departures area, and has plenty of airy white space, which is casually divided into a dining area next to the buffet, and a couple more lounge-like spaces with plenty of seating configurations, and cool retro posters from the days of Teal. There's also a well-equipped kids' room, and, of course, roomy bathrooms and showers.
The view: Is quite something. You can see all the way back to the city of Brisbane in the distance, and you have widescreen views of the runway, which is always a treat for aviation lovers. The lounge makes the most of its corner position with floor to ceiling windows on two sides, which gives the whole space a very light, tranquil, spacious feel.
Eating and drinking: There's a very well-stocked long bar with plenty of New Zealand wine and beer choices, along with all the standard spirits, and mixers plus a selection of juices on tap. They've also got comprehensive tea options, and a new coffee machine that seemed to be having a few issues when we arrived, but the staff were already on to sorting it out.
The buffet changes over the course of the day, and we were able to sample morning tea and lunch. There were delightful club sandwiches, pastries, scones (with jam and cream), fresh fruit salad, soup, croissants, and a well-stocked cheeseboard, along with lots of other great nibbly things. And then they brought out an extensive salad selection along with the hot meals - yummy Asian-inspired chicken and rice, a curry, pork, rolls and tempting mini desserts.
The bathrooms: Were decked out in slightly darker decor than is usual in an Air New Zealand Lounge, but were spotlessly clean, and well-stocked with a lovely citrusy Antipodes hand soap and moisturiser.
The lounge atmosphere: It's a good-sized lounge, so even at peak times there's plenty of room for everyone, and the feeling of being in a serene oasis remains. There are no blaring TV screens (though there is one if you want to watch something in particular), and people seemed mostly content with the wide-ranging magazine and newspaper selection, and the free wi-fi (with plenty of power points for charging). If there's one area they could improve, that would be the background music playlist - it was a bit short (we heard the same Coldplay song a few too many times), and there was no Kiwi music. Air New Zealand do such a great job of promoting local artists on their planes, and it would be great if that continued in the lounges.
The bottom line: It's a great improvement on the previous incarnation, in a lovely spot, and is the perfect place to relax before or in between flights, whether you've got an hour or six. To enter you need to be a Koru Club member, or an Airpoints Gold or Elite member, and they have various agreements with other partner airlines which may allow you access if you're travelling Business Class.