After ten amazing days in South Island, it was time to head back to Singapore. While I’d flown into Auckland (and then onwards to Queenstown), my open-jaw itinerary involved flying back from Christchurch instead.
Singapore Airlines currently operates Christchurch’s only “real” international route (well, if you exclude Australia and Fiji), a 4x weekly A350-900 service. Eligible passengers are directed to the Air New Zealand International Lounge, but frankly, there’s very little to get excited about here.
|🍸 tl;dr: Air New Zealand International Lounge Christchurch|
|With a limited selection of food and middling amenities, Air New Zealand’s Christchurch International Lounge can’t even measure up to some Domestic Lounges.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
|🇳🇿 Journey to Middle Earth|
Access and Operating Hours
The Air New Zealand International Lounge at Christchurch Airport is located on the first floor (that’s one floor up from the ground level) of the international terminal, with access through the duty-free area.
The lounge opens 2 hours and 30 minutes prior to the first international departure for the day. Christchurch isn’t seeing a whole lot of international traffic at the moment, but fortunately for Singapore Airlines passengers, there’s an earlier Air New Zealand flight scheduled. This means the lounge opens well ahead of SQ’s check-in counters (at the T-3 hour mark), and close as soon as they board.
Lounge access is available to:
- Star Gold, Airpoints Gold, Elite, Elite Partner and Koru members departing on an Air New Zealand flight (+1 guest for Star Gold, Airpoints Gold, Elite Partner and Koru, +3 guests for Airpoints Elite)
- Business Premier passengers departing on an Air New Zealand flight
- Business and First Class passengers departing on a Star Alliance flight
- Star Gold members departing on a Star Alliance flight (+1 guest)
Air New Zealand describes the Christchurch International Lounge as “A sleek, well-equipped and comfortable lounge. An excellent place to relax”.
That’s doesn’t tell you a whole lot, but at 597 sqm and with seating for 125 guests, it’s one of the smallest International Lounges out there.
The lounge started out full when I arrived at 8.30 a.m, but started to empty out as the other international flights departed. SQ298 was the last Star Alliance flight for the day, so for the final 80 minutes SQ passengers had the whole place to themselves.
Seating is a mish mash of couches, arm chairs, dining tables and communal tables, with a rather eye-catching fire pit as the centrepiece (it wasn’t in operation, but I assume they turn it on during the June/July winter period).
The lounge adopts a fairly open plan design, which means there aren’t a lot of private spaces. But tucked away in a corner was a dining table with three chairs, partially hidden from view by three decorative columns. We snagged this spot and stayed put till closing time.
The lounge had a TV area though it was begging for a larger screen. The current display couldn’t have been larger than 32 inches, completely inadequate for the viewing distance.
Those travelling with young kids will be relieved to know that there’s a dedicated kids’ room, with all the toys and Peppa Pig you could care for.
Power & Productivity
The complimentary Wi-Fi network offered speeds of ~11 Mbps down and ~9 Mbps up. It was adequate for basic web surfing and video streaming, but anyone wanting to watch higher bitrate Netflix or YouTube might encounter stuttering.
The lounge was well-equipped with Type I power plugs and USB-A charging ports. However, there were no options for USB-C or wireless charging.
Near the entrance was a small business centre that had a soundproof room for taking calls, five individual workstations and a printing station.
Food & Beverage
Self-serve buffets have long since returned to New Zealand, including at airport lounges. However, I have to say the F&B selection in Christchurch was extremely disappointing.
Breakfast options included fruit and pastries, cereals and breads, plus yoghurt and parfait.
The only hot options were scrambled eggs (which had so much butter added you could feel your arteries clogging with every bite), baked beans, and sausage links. That was it for food, and I really was expecting at least a couple more choices like breakfast potatoes, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes or bacon.
But even more shocking was the fact the Christchurch International Lounge lacked barista service, a near staple in Air New Zealand lounges. Coffee out of a machine is almost blasphemous for New Zealand, but that’s all that passengers get here.
At least the rest of the drinks selection was decent, with the usual soft drinks, juices, local and imported beers, and assorted New Zealand wines.
The wine selection featured:
- Villa Maria 2021 Sauvignon Blanc (4.0★)
- Villa Maria 2019 Pinot Noir (3.7★)
- Vidal Reserve 2018 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon (3.6★)
- Vidal Reserve 2020 Chardonnay (3.6★)
- Dulcet NV Sparkling Wine (3.2★)
What really surprised me is that despite Christchurch being the secondary gateway to New Zealand, the F&B selection was much smaller than that of the Auckland Domestic Lounge. There were fewer hot food options, a smaller range of wines, and no barista-made coffee. I know which one I’d rather hang out at.
Showers & Toilets
The Christchurch International Lounge has just two showers, although that doesn’t pose much of an issue at the moment since all flights depart in the morning, and Christchurch doesn’t get much in the way of international connecting traffic. There’s no shower attendant to assign rooms or buzzers; it’s first-come-first-serve.
Shower rooms are functional, if a little blandly designed- this wouldn’t be out of place in a hospital bathroom, come to think of it.
Water pressure was decent, and shower amenities were by Antipodes, a premium New Zealand skincare brand.
The Air New Zealand International Lounge in Christchurch gets the job done, but it comes off as woefully inadequate when compared to the Domestic Lounge in Auckland. Yes, a domestic lounge features a wider selection of food and wines, barista service and more showers (7 vs 2).
I suppose the thought process is that Auckland sees a lot more international to domestic connecting traffic, and therefore the Domestic Lounge in Auckland serves as a sort of arrivals lounge. Christchurch International Airport, on the other hand, would see lower volumes of domestic to international connections, and connecting passengers would be transferring from short-haul flights where showers and such aren’t really a priority.
In any case, the Christchurch International Lounge is hardly flagship material, so adjust your expectations accordingly.