Auckland International Airport

Why we want to fly to Auckland Int’l Airport

We’re (finally) getting serious about planning plane trips and visiting airports.

And one airport on our “to do” list for when borders reopen is Auckland International Airport (AKL) in New Zealand.

Especially now that we know about an award-winning landscape project by the San Francisco-based landscape architecture and urban planning firm Surfacedesign.

The six-square-mile design will progress in phases through 2024. And, according to Surfacedesign, it is influenced by New Zealand’s centuries-old agrarian traditions, from its indigenous Maori settlers and European immigrants in the 1800s.

contact info: blake marvin |

The design incorporates large geometric patterns inspired by sacred Maori stone fields; which are mounded-rock terraces that provided protection against weather and intruders. Other influences come from herringbone hedgerows planted by New Zealand’s European immigrants. There are also abstract shapes referencing Auckland’s natural volcanic and coastal topography. And “V” patterns found in bird flight, which are also significant in Maori culture.

The overall plan also connects existing greenspaces and creates nearby recreational opportunities—including a mountain bike park and 45 acres of new open space.

Sounds intriguing, right? Our favorite part: the pinball flippers!

All photos by Blake Marvin.

Greetings from New Zealand’s Auckland Airport

First impressions are important, especially if you’re a city and you’d like folks who are just passing through to come back and stay awhile.  So you’d think every city would want its airport – its front door – to be all pretty and nice.

Like, say, Auckland Airport. Check out what greets visitors arriving on international flights:

Auckland welcome

No one is going to mistake this for an airport in Omaha, now are they?

And here’s another nice touch:  volunteers at the Auckland airport greet every international flight with complimentary coffee, tea, and travel information.


Meeting Aviation Pioneer Jean Batten in Rotorua, New Zealand

Rotorua  - blue gree statue

Earlier this week, my short flight from New Zealand’s Rotorua Regional Airport to Auckland was canceled, so I ended up stuck at that tiny airport for a while. Good thing.  The delay gave me a chance to look around.  In addition to finding more than a half-dozen giant statues, I was able to learn a bit about Jean Gardner Batten, a famous New Zealand aviatrix from the 1930’s who was born in Rotorua in 1909 and made a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world,  including the first direct flight from England to New Zealand

Rotorua - jane batten

( Photo: Jean Batten at Rongotai Airport, Wellington, circa 1930s, Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library).
Unfortunately, when Batten stopped flying she disappeared from public view and later became a reclusive. She died in November 1982 in Palma, Majorca after refusing treatment for a dog bite that had turned septic. She was buried anonymously in a mass grave and for five years, no one even knew she had died.

Later, it was discovered that Batten wanted to have her ashes interred at Auckland International Airport and today, that airport’s international terminal is named in her honor.   I’m going to poke around and see if I can find the spot where they’ve put her ashes.

Rotorua - Jean Batten statue

Jean Batten exhibit at Rotorua Regional Airport