Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Air New Zealand International Lounge, Auckland

My journey with Air New Zealand continued to the lounge in Auckland, after a fairly enjoyable flight from Sydney, and a visit to the brand new lounge in Sydney for incredible breakfast.

I had visited the Air New Zealand lounge in Auckland a few years ago, but, it must have been a different lounge, as the layout seemed totally different this time.

Overall, it was a large, but crowded, lounge, with lots of seating options, and poor buffet food.  Nothing particularly noteworthy.  The Sydney lounge was far superior, as was the previous Auckland lounge.


There were showers, but I didn't check them out.
Big Main Area.
The lounge opens into a large room with assorted, not very comfortable, chairs.  This area was packed though, it is clear that most people just settle into the first chairs they find. 
Window Seating.
But for those who venture further, the space is broken up into several areas, all with different styles of seating.  There were comfortable padded chairs and couches along a window.
High Table.
I quickly found a high table, and used it as a standing desk.  After sitting on my previous flight, and gearing up for a 12 hour flight, the last thing I wanted was to sit more (although most people did use the stools, I was the oddball standing here).
Swing Chairs!
The end of the room also had a few coveted swingy chairs, that I must admit, looked pretty awesome.  If only I wanted to sit.
The bar wasn't much of a hub of activity, although it did have some stools.  I think most people preferred to just use the self service drink stations.
The area closest to the food buffets had dining tables with chairs, plus another high table (this one with a different style of stool).
TV Lounge.
Near the front entrance was a media room, with a large screen TV, the only area that was relatively empty.


There were two self-serve drink stations, and a bar with alcohol and a barista.
Drink Station.
The drink station had juices (orange, apple, tomato), beer and cider in the fridge, basic liquors, and soda taps (including lemon lime of course).

There was also a water tap with hot, still, or sparkling water, and lemons and limes on the side.
Robot Coffee.
You could also opt to make your own coffee from the robot.  Decaf was instant.


Food is all located in a buffet area, along with a station with a made-to-order dish of the day.  Most of the buffet is duplicated, so it moves fairly efficiently.
Bhuja Mix, Pretzels.
Ok, I lied.  There is food in one other location, bar snacks at the bar.  You know me and my love of snacks.

I do love bhuja mix, so I was happy to see that, although I remembered liking the "Snippets - Honey & Dijon Snacks" before and was secretly hoping for that again.  The bhuja had little crispy peas, crispy chickpea sticks, and more, and was seasoned with curry spices.  Very munchable, which I appreciated.
The bar also had jars of wrapped candies and mints.
The buffet featured 4 salads, all vegetarian.  I skipped the first two.
  • Lentils with raisin and carrot
  • Iceberg with mint and vegetables (with unlabelled dressing)
  • Roasted cauliflower with honey and walnut
  • Tomato & basil farfalle, bocconcini, & parmesan
The cauliflower salad was ... not dressed?  Just leaves of spinach, raw walnuts, and roasted cauliflower.  Not sure where the promised honey was.  Not good.

The pasta salad was equally bad, very tangy, and I didn't see any cheese in it.
Cheese, Crackers, Scones.
I did try one of the darker crackers with the pear and fig chutney, and it was fairly tasty, a hearty cracker.

The final item was cranberry & orange scones, and they looked dry, and there was no whipped cream or anything to spread on, so I skipped.
Cheese, crackers,  muffins.
There were three types of muffins, the two here (double chocolate and golden corn), and a third, unlabelled muffin was added later.

I tried the unlabelled one, and it seemed to be trying to be healthy.  It had some kind of tiny seeds (chia? linseed?) and walnuts, wasn't sweet, and was fairly dry.  Not recommended.
Golden Cornmeal Muffin.
The Golden Cornmeal muffin was fascinating, and not at all what I was expecting.  It was savory, cheesy, and had huge chunks of corn in it.  More like a savory cornbread muffin.  It wasn't necessarily good though.

I gave up on the baked goods, the ones from the Sydney lounge were much better.
Soup, Rolls, Butter, Snacks.
The daily soup was tomato, there were several types of rolls with butter and margarine, and more of the same snacks from the bar.

Again, I only had eyes for the bhuja mix.
Besides snacks, I love one other thing from buffets: desserts!  A buffet means I get to try them all :)

The dessert lineup had two potted items and fruit salad.
 Raspberry  Crème Brûlée.
I was super excited to see crème brûlée, as my blog has an entire label devoted to it.  And then ... I tried it.  Not good.  Also, totally not crème brûlée.

No bruleed top, just thin caramel on top.  The raspberry was just a little puddle on top.  But neither of those things were really the problem.  The problem was that it was gritty and tasted horrible.
Apple Cream with Gingerbread.
This was slightly better, but only slightly.

The bottom was a soggy cake (I guess gingerbread), then a layer of cream (that didn't taste like apple), then an apple compote, then more cream, and topped with what seemed to be stewed raisins.  I don't really care for apple, so that is why I wasn't pleased with the flavor, but the cream also wasn't very good, just like the crème brûlée, it had a really strange taste to it, like it had gone bad, honestly.

I was sad, as both of there were dessert items that I should have liked.
Action Station: Pull Lamb Pappardelle.
During our visit to the Air New Zealand lounge in Sydney, the made to order chef station had crepes in the morning, but we weren't able to stay long enough to see what it transitioned to at lunch time.

Here, the station looked promising from a distance, I saw fresh pasta!  A chef making plates to order!  But ... the sauce had lamb.  Only lamb.  I don't like lamb.
Unfortunately for me, the lamb continued into the hot buffet.  The only protein option was lamb.  No seafood, no chicken, no beef.  Only lamb.  I know New Zealanders love their lamb, but, geez!
Herb Cous Cous.
It was served with herbed cous cous on the side, another item I'm not particularly fond of.
Green Curry Thai Vegetables.
The veggie entree was thai green curry, which I did try.  It was mushy and horribly overcooked.
Asparagus with Garlic Butter.
I skipped the asparagus swimming in garlic butter.
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