Auckland Airport numbers to spike during school holidays as Kiwis head overseas

Auckland Airport
"Please be patient and factor in some extra time for your journey." Photo credit: Getty Images

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Australia hoping to convince tourists to return to Aotearoa, many more are heading out of the country for a well-earned break.

School holidays combined with New Zealand's winter are causing the largest numbers of travellers at Auckland Airport since 2019 as Kiwis seek respite from the cold and rain.

According to the airport, 120,000 people are expected to depart on international flights out of Auckland during the July school holidays, nearly 50 percent more than the April school holidays.

Australia is the most popular destination, with over half of the international departees set to head over the ditch. Fiji and the US are the second and third most popular, said Anna Cassels-Brown, general manager operations at Auckland Airport.

"Although we'll still be around 50 percent of our pre-COVID international travel volumes, there are definitely going to be some particularly busy patches each day," she said.

"First thing in the morning we've got up to six flights heading to Australia within a 15-minute window, so it will be 'all go' in the terminal.

"We know this means that queues may form, but we anticipate they'll be reasonably fast moving so please be patient and factor in some extra time for your journey."

With border controls lifting, July sees the return of many different direct flight options to and from Aotearoa.

That includes Air New Zealand's services to Adelaide, Cairns, Hobart, Sunshine Coast, Papeete, Noumea, Honolulu, and Houston, Hawaiian Airlines connection to Honolulu and Air Tahiti Nui flying to Los Angeles via Papeete.

This boosts the total number of international destinations connected to Auckland to 33 served by 18 airlines, Auckland Airport said.


As well as a busy terminal, there are other things flyers need to be aware of when they're heading overseas.

The airport's infrastructure development programme means there are some big changes underway in and around the international terminal, including the closure of the main international terminal car park to make way for the construction of a new Transport Hub.

"As travel recovers our big infrastructure projects will also kick off in earnest," Cassels-Brown said.

"There's going to be a lot of change at the airport over the coming couple of years, but we know it will also deliver an awesome travel experience when it's finished, which we're really excited about."

To help alleviate some of the stresses of travelling, the airport has launched an initiative called Family Lane for the holiday period.

Developed in collaboration with government border agencies, the Family Lane allows parents to take some time to prepare themselves and their children for border formalities. 

The Family Lane will operate at Customs and Aviation Security screening for international departures, and MPI biosecurity screening at international arrivals. Dedicated lanes for family or large groups are already in operation at Customs NZ on arrival.

“Anyone who has travelled with young children knows it can be stressful and the last thing you need is to feel like you're holding up other travellers. By creating a dedicated lane for families travelling with children during the school holidays, we can make the essential border processes go as smoothly as possible for all travellers.”

The airport has also warned that at certain times of the day, particularly later in the evening, there will be fewer food outlets open.

"We know how much people enjoy the shopping and dining experience as part of an overseas holiday or work trip, and we are working hard to make it the best experience possible," Cassels-Brown said.

"It takes a huge effort to restart these operations after more than two years of closure.

"If travelling with children especially, please consider bringing snacks or essential supplies with you, especially for any late-night flights. We apologise that the whole airport system is not yet back at full strength, and very much appreciate your understanding."

Top tips for school holiday travel

  • Give yourself plenty of time in advance of your trip to make sure you have the right documentation for your destination, including health declarations
  • Check what food, drink, and baby formula you can take through Aviation Security screening when you're travelling with young children
  • If you're driving to the airport book parking in advance to get the best deal and double-check the journey to the car park – we've made a number of changes including closing the main international car park to build a new Transport Hub
  • Mobility card holders have the option of using the mobility valet for the same price as an international car park with the ease of parking right alongside the international terminal
  • The pickup/drop off areas are all running as normal, and meeters and farewellers are welcome into the terminals, but with the closure of the main international car park the closest car park for people meeting or farewelling friends and family at the international terminal is now Car Park D, a five-minute undercover walk from the terminal
  • Leave the car at home and catch a taxi, rideshare, SkyDrive bus or take advantage of half price public transport fares to try the train-bus connection via the AirportLink
  • The Sunflower Hidden Disability lanyard is now recognised at Auckland Airport. Check out the resources and support available to help make travel easier for those with invisible disabilities
  • Pack a smile for the staff on deck at Auckland Airport – they're all super excited to help you get to your final destination.