Tauranga's airport has received a facelift, and it's a "big improvement".

The expansion would enable the airport to continue operating at capacity for the next decade, which was experiencing 12 to 15 per cent more traffic each year, according to Tauranga Airport manager Ray Dumble.

The project cost $13.9m, $600k over the original budget, and was funded by the airport's cash reserves.

The overspend was due to "tenant requirements, poor ground conditions and tying the old building to the new building," according to a Tauranga City Council spokesperson.

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The original terminal was built in 1967 and stage one of the redevelopment was completed in early December last year, which comprised of updates to the arrivals and departures area and the Koru Lounge.

Stage two will be finished in April when the new check-in area, featuring check-in kiosks, a baggage drop belt, a new externally accessible courier, cargo office, boardroom and refurbishment of the toilets will be completed.

After entering through the front entrance, relaxed hues of grey and green created a surprisingly zen atmosphere for an airport at one of the biggest cities in New Zealand.

An expansive glass wall now overlooks the runway, making up almost one side of the oblong building, the floor space of which was more than doubled in size from 1700sq m to 3800sq m in the recent upgrades.

Couches and plants dot the well-lit space, adding to the relaxed and airy feel.

Powerful light brown wood banisters, shaped like the silhouette of Mauao, hold up a high ceiling with intricate wood detailing designed in collaboration local iwi.

When arriving passengers entered the arrival gates, they would pass Māori artwork created by local artist Jason Porter before moving on into the departure lounge.

The arrival and departure areas had also been moved to allow for an easy flow of passengers.

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Aside from the cosmetic improvements, the upgrades resulted in a shorter walk from the terminal for boarding.

Tracey Journee, 66, was travelling through the airport the day the Bay of Plenty Times visited the airport. The Lyttleton local said it "looks fantastic," with great coffee and comfy seats as a bonus.

"I walked in and thought, 'what a lovely environment.'"

Lyn Irving from Whakatāne was also catching a flight. The 69-year-old said it was a "big improvement with a lot more space."

"I like that the departures and arrivals are separated now," she said.