Ian Griffin checks into the Air New Zealand domestic Koru Club at Auckland Airport
A smile and cheerful "kia ora" from the ever-helpful and engaging Air New Zealand crew signals your escape from the hoi polloi into the Koru culture club. However, don't make the rookie mistake of turning up more than four hours before departure as you will be (very politely) declined entry. Even if you have just chartered an Air New Zealand Dreamliner to fly into the southern auroral zone and your connecting flight to Dunedin isn't for five hours. (Yes that still rankles but it is, unfortunately, the price you have to pay to maintain the ambience.)
First impression: I'm home.
What's there: Everything that's needed to make time before a domestic flight productive, relaxing or fun. Except for copies of New Zealand's leading organ of record, the Otago Daily Times [I beg your pardon? — Travel Ed], which is never in stock when this Dunedinite passes through.
Who's there: A fascinating and constantly changing mix of travellers heading to destinations across Aotearoa. And, yes, that chap who looks a bit like Winston Peters probably is, actually Winston Peters.
Tech stuff: Wi-Fi is free and fast enabling lots of work (or browsing) during those longish (under four hour) layovers. There are copious power points and chargers, although when the lounge gets busy these can be at a premium.
The view: To be honest, I have never looked out of the windows. When my mind wanders from work, there's tremendous fun to be had observing the movers and shakers of New Zealand society in a relaxing natural habitat.
Eating: I love the breakfast sausages (so much that I started the #korusausagewatch hashtag to honour their continuing splendour). I am addicted to the awesome salad bar, which is always appetising. A recent lunchtime layover was significantly enhanced by a superb smoked tomato and white bean soup with jalapeno creme fraiche.
Drinking: The barista coffee is great, and there's a wide range of wines and other beverages on offer.
Insider tip: Don't make the mistake of liberating an entire bottle of wine from the fridge and bringing it to your table. Such oenological innovation is frowned upon by the Koru cognoscenti.
The bathrooms: Are clean, and showers are a godsend, especially after an international flight and the dreaded walk between terminals.
The lounge atmosphere: A heady mix of work, scoffing, imbibing and celebrity.
The bottom line: A home away from home for the busy and the not so busy.