Winston Aldworth checks out the new Air New Zealand Lounge at Auckland Airport.

The greeting:

Air New Zealand have a first-rate crew on the door. Friendly and efficient. Be nice to them - these are the gatekeepers of your final refuge before long-haul hell.

First impression: This is a serious step up from Air New Zealand's previous Auckland Airport lounge. The old one, when crowded, had all the ambience of Thursday night at LynnMall a week out from Christmas. Complete with bogans elbowing their way to the buffet.

By comparison with what went before it, this new Air New Zealand lounge is amazing. In truth, it's about what a decent international lounge should be.


What's there: All the mod-cons, plus a play area for kids that matches anything you'll find in lounges around the world.

Who's there: Quiet people. Air New Zealand's old lounge (they moved into this one last year) could be a rowdy joint. This seems less full than the old one. Maybe it's the extra space (at more than 2000sq m, the new lounge is 40 per cent bigger than its predecessor).

Anything for the kids? The play area for wee ones is compact but brilliant. A vast improvement on the old lounge.

Tech stuff: Wi-fi is free and there's roughly a gazillion USB stations and powerpoints.

The view: Cracking. The Manukau is there in all its glory, an ancient backdrop to the runway action. For keen spotters of the Franklin industrial heartland, Glenbrook Steel's puffs of smoke are on the horizon.

Eating and drinking: A good range of cheese. The wines are okay, and the stylish bar has Mac's Green Beret on tap. Honestly, I've not found a better coffee at an airport anywhere.

The bathrooms: Smart.

The lounge atmosphere: Quiet productivity.

The bottom line: Very good. As it should be.