Airports are a necessary evil and some of them feel more evil than others. Your misery can start when you try to find information on unfriendly websites, and intensify when you have to drive through industrial blight and traffic jams to arrive for your flight. Negotiating access roads and parking garages, marching a mile with your luggage, horrendous check-in queues, confusing signs, all not much fun. And then you've got the departure lounge with too few seats, expensive food, and the constant aural assault from the public address system, all perfectly intelligible except the ones referring to your flight. And at the other end, the brawl at baggage claim, another mile to walk, and then ouch, paying for the parking. Well, we've all been there and it's worth it when you are going someplace fun.
Let me tell you about a GOOD airport. It's true that if you live in the U.S. you have to travel quite a while to get there, but everything about the Christchurch (New Zealand) International Airport is much more pleasant than all that. Christchurch is built on the edge of a great plain, so the airport is just 12 kilometres from the city and the drive is quick, courteous and garden-filled. It feels like a small airport, which it really is (135,000 aircraft movements in 2007).
The airport is currently under development, with a new parking building just opened and a new domestic terminal just begun. But it doesn't feel like a construction zone at all and the beautiful welcoming garden right outside the terminal is a happy touch. The main cafe has a great view of the runways and there is a children's play area so the little ones can let off steam before their incarceration on the plane. Christchurch Airport was the first certified carbon neutral airport in the Southern Hemisphere, receiving carboNZeroCert TM certification from Landcare Research. The United States presence in Antarctica is managed out of Christchurch Airport so the muscular Hercules aircraft come and go from August to February while the continent is "open" to flights.
The best part of arriving in Christchurch is that it's the gateway to the wonderful South Island with all its recreation possibilities. Whether you want to hike, ski, go on a wine tour, see spectacular scenery, or just get away from it all, you can start here and go anywhere. Check out the great airport website for information on tourist destinations and much more.
I'd put up with a lot of hassle to get to Christchurch, my former home and still the home of my heart. Fortunately, this airport makes coming and going a little pleasure in itself.
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Linda Bulger (Linda_in_Maine)
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Christchurch International Airport is New Zealand's tourism gateway. Situated on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island, Christchurch is conveniently located next to many iconic tourism highlights and as such receives over 5.9 million passengers a year.