Stephanie Holmes finds space in the Koru Lounge at Auckland Airport.
The greeting: Warm smiles from both staff members on the reception desk. I was travelling with United Airlines, and not a Koru member, but my Business Class boarding pass was all I needed to be waved through. No worries of the lounge being too full for "second class citizens" on this occasion.
First impression: Where is everybody? It was quiet and calm, unlike the chaos that apparently ensued a few weeks back during school holidays. It was peaceful, with plenty of seats available.
What's there: Dining area, bar area, TV room, business area, showers, quiet space with chaise lounges, and terrace area with retractable roof. I headed for the terrace, which was pleasingly empty so I could settle into a prime seat by the windows. A small cloud of sand flies and a spider joined me there.
Who's there: Koru members, Star Alliance premium passengers, mostly an older demographic. And the sand flies and the spider.
Tech stuff: Free Wi-Fi with no password required; multiple charging ports and plug sockets available. A desk where I presume you can get flight information and help with connections etc, but there was no-one manning this desk for my visit.
Reading material: NZ Herald, Denizen, Metro, Woman's Day, Time, a couple of other magazines. No copies of Kia Ora that I could see.
The view: Out to the gates and runway, so plane nerds can spot various aircraft taxiing and taking off.
Eating and drinking: A great spread, including sandwiches and wraps (I had a lovely coronation chicken wrap), salads, fresh fruit and cheese and crackers.
My word, the Kikorangi blue was exceptional. Hot options included spinach gnocchi (dense and luke warm), a vegetarian or sausage ragout, and a tomato and white bean soup. As well as a couple of self-serve options, there's also a full-service bar with barista service. After my traditional celebratory glass of bubbles (rude not to), I used the touch-screen tablet to order a freshly made coffee, which was ready in under five minutes, and was expertly made. Good, because I was heading to the US for 12 days of bad coffee.
Bathrooms: Clean and no queues, although one of the sinks was out of action. There are showers as well, but I didn't use them, having come straight from home.
Lounge atmosphere: There was a quiet buzz — the kind of low rumble that comes from a mix of business travellers getting on top of their work and holiday makers enjoying the clink of their champagne glasses.
One man was on a bit of a power trip. It appeared he'd taken exception to the way a female manager had spoken to a junior member of staff. He went out of his way to call the manager back and gave her quite the serve. "You should take her out the back to talk to her," he insisted. "I don't want to hear anything like that again." I was torn between being happy he was sticking up for someone he believed had been slighted, and being uncomfortable with the enjoyment he seemed to be getting from giving the manager a lecture. It all got resolved quickly and he went back to his large glass of red wine.
Bottomline: Everyone welcome. Including arachnids.