Auckland Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

Auckland is by far the largest and busiest airport in New Zealand catering for over 14 million passengers a year.  Located in Mangere on the edge of the Manukau Harbour more than half of the airport’s perimeter is only accessible by boat. It is the main hub of Air New Zealand and JetConnect (Qantas’ trans-tasman operator) whilst Jetstar also base their NZ domestic operations from the airport. It has two separate terminals (the individual former Air New Zealand and Qantas domestic terminals having been linked together as one domestic terminal) and a single runway capable of 45 movements per hour. Construction of a second runway, for commuter operations, was begun in 2007 but has been halted until demand increases.

As of 2013 domestic traffic is mainly made up of Air New Zealand (737-300s, A320s), Jetstar (A320s) and Air NZ Link ((Eagle Air B1900Ds)(Air Nelson DHC-8-Q300s)(Mount Cook ATR-72s)). Great Barrier Airlines and FlyMySky operate local services, mainly to Great Barrier Island, using Islanders and Trislanders. Pacific Blue ceased domestic operations in October 2010. Air Chathams still use CV-580s to the Chatham Islands.

As of 2013 International traffic consists primarily of Air New Zealand (747-400, 767-300, 777-200/300, A320), JetConnect (in Qantas Colours)(737-800) and Virgin Australia (737-800). Qantas itself formerly operated its own metal into Auckland using 737s, 767s and 747s (the latter on a US route) but this has now largely ceased. Other operators include Air Calin, Air Tahiti Nui, Air Vanuatu, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Southern, Fiji Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Korean Air, LAN, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. Emirates operates three daily flights as trans-tasman add ons to Australian routes two of which utilise the A380. Until relatively recently the airport was served by Aerolineas Argentinas, Garuda Indonesia and Royal Brunei.

Traffic can be slow at times with most heavies arriving between 05:30 and 07:00 and 11:00-13:30.

Written by Richard Stretton / Frequent Visitor

Rating Movements
Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runways 05R/23L 05L/23R
3.635 m (11.926 ft) 3.108 m (10.197 ft)
Terminals Domestic Terminal International Terminal
All domestic operations All Intnl Operations
Spotting Information Ladder not needed
Car recommended
Restrooms Not at Puhinui Rd but at nearby McDonalds and in terminals
Drinks/Food Supermarket, restaurants & gas stations at the airport
Hotels Novotel by Intnl Terminal (with views of apron)
Season Best is September-April but winter is mild by UK or German standards
Runway Usage  05R/23L Used for all arrivals and departures
05L/23R Main taxiway to close to 05R to be used on its own and only used when 05R is closed for repairs

Spot #1 – Puhinui Road – Take offs and departures
WHERE A pair of official viewing areas with parking on either side of Puhinui Road after the end of the main runway. The two areas are at different levels due to the land profile. There are no real benches or seats provided and most people simply sit in their cars to watch.
WHAT Great for spotting all traffic when wind is coming from the west/southwest and 23L is in use as landing aircraft come past at perfect height. Witha suitable long-lens then all traffic taking off can also be photographed when 23L is in use. If 05R is in use it can be frustrating as most landing traffic leaves the runway too far for photography and a lot of taking off traffic is too high by the time it passes the spot.
TIME Good spot for almost the whole day when 23L is in use though best when the sun is behind you in the mornings.
MISCELLANEOUS There are no facilities here at all though closer to the airport (probably about 2km away) there is a McDonalds and beyond that the terminals. Also on the road towards the city there is a shopping centre including a Countdown supermarket.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-400 mm
Spot #2 – International Terminal Viewing Terrace
WHERE On the first floor departures area of the International terminal head towards the McDonalds and look right to see escalators up to another level. After a winding walk you find yourself at panoramic windows overlooking the ramp and there are stairs which take you up to a higher level.
WHAT Views of the gates on one side of the international pier and remote parking (often used by cargo heavies). There are also views of the runway and distant views of the Jetstar end of the domestic terminal. The official viewing deck gives a slightly higher view of the same thing seen from the panoramic windows. Due to development you can no longer see over the top of the international pier.
TIME Ok all day but best in the morning. Glass is often covered in fingerprints and there can be reflection issues.
MISCELLANEOUS There are no seats in the upstairs part. Plenty of food and drink and facilities in the terminal. It is only a 5 minute walk from the Novotel hotel in the car park.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-150 mm
Spot #3 – Domestic Terminal – Airside
WHERE In the domestic terminal go through security (no boarding pass typically required) and turn left going up the escalators to the gates used by Air New Zealand domestic jet operations.N.B: There used to be an open air viewing terrace in the domestic terminal but this was replaced when Air New Zealand’s Koru Club was developed.
WHAT Views of the gates used by Air New Zealand 737s and A320s. Views of the main runway and taxiways alongside it.
TIME Ok all day but best in the morning. Glass is often covered in fingerprints and there can be reflection issues.
MISCELLANEOUS Plenty of food and drink and facilities in the terminal.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-150 mm
Spot #4 – Domestic Terminal – Airworks and Prop Ramp
WHERE Outside at the southern end of the domestic terminal. There is a wire fence between the public and the ramp.
WHAT Views of the gates used by Air New Zealand Link operators and the local Great Barrier Island airlines as well as Airworks ramp often populated by the postal service F-27s and 737s.
TIME Ok all day but best in the morning. Photos have to be taken through wire fencing.
MISCELLANEOUS Plenty of food and drink and facilities in the terminal.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-100 mm
Spot #5 – International Pier – Airside
WHERE Through security (only available if flying as boarding pass required) inside the main pier of the international terminal.
WHAT Views of the gates on one side of the international pier and remote parking (often used by cargo heavies). There are also views of the runway and distant views of the Jetstar end of the domestic terminal.
TIME Best in the morning. Reflections are an issue.
MISCELLANEOUS Plenty of food and drink and facilities in the terminal.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-150 mm
Spot #6 – International A380 Pier – Airside
WHERE Through security (only available if flying as boarding pass required) inside the new A380 pier of the international terminal.
WHAT Views of the gates on the northern side of the international terminal used by the A380s.
TIME Best in the morning. Reflections are an issue.
MISCELLANEOUS Plenty of food and drink and facilities in the terminal.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-150 mm
Spot #7 – DHL Freight Car Park – NZ Engineering
WHERE At the northern end of Laurence Stevens Drive in the car park of the DHL facility.
WHAT Views of Air New Zealand engineering facility where there are usually one or two heavies and sometimes Hawaiian 767-300s (which NZ does maintenance for).
TIME Best in the morning. Photos through or over wire fence.
MISCELLANEOUS There are no facilities here at all though closer to the airport (probably about 1km away) there is a McDonalds and beyond that the terminals. Also on the road towards the city there is a shopping centre including a Countdown supermarket.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-100 mm
Spot #8 – Air National and Post Ramp
WHERE A short walk down the road from the Puhinui spotting site across the bridge and on the left brings you close to the ramp.
WHAT Views of NZ Post and Air Chathams Convairs plus some biz jets.
TIME All day
MISCELLANEOUS There are no facilities here at all though closer to the airport (probably about 1.5km away) there is a McDonalds and beyond that the terminals. Also on the road towards the city there is a shopping centre including a Countdown supermarket.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-100 mm

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4 thoughts on “Auckland Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

  1. LamboAston

    4 Daily Emirates A380s, summer SQ A380s, Korean summer 744, 748, 77W, China Southern B787,

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