Last week, I was out at the airport again for the 4th time in as many weeks picking up dad after a short trip down to Dunedin (sigh... there don't seem to be any short trips on the radar for me yet for the next few months). From past experience, I knew that this meant that would involve the smaller ATR-72 fleet in the regional/turboprops area (where you have to physically walk out on the tarmac to get your plane) instead of the usual "larger" 737's and A319/A320's jets (which are served by the air-bridges).
Despite having been through the airport a few times since its major redevelopment project finished several years ago, up till this point, I still hadn't managed to take shots of this part of the terminal yet. Earlier attempts had usually been hamstrung by the scourge of effectively having to pay over $10-$20 you step foot in the carparking building (since it's rare that you actually manage to leave within the 15 minutes of free parking they give you). This time though, with reduced parking fees (now $4 for the first hour IIRC) and a legitimate reason/excuse to be hanging around peering out the windows with a camera, I got to take my time.
Regional Terminal Area
Unlike the rest of the terminal, this part of the terminal was decked out in a distinctive pacific-inspired feel, with angled wooden panelling and furniture, a semi-industrial walkway along the side, and large exposed air ducts. In this area, there was also a second (mini) foodcourt and convenience store serving the waiting lounge area.
The extensive use of wood in this area was quite visually striking, and made for some nice shots...
Of course, the main point of an airport is for getting and off planes. With these regional jets, they're kindof small, so they end up all being parked out on the tarmac, and you have to walk out across the tarmac to reach them. (On the last time I was on one, it was also quite a noisy, slow, and slightly bumpier experience - you really feel that there is some human operating the controls through a bunch of directly-connected mechanical systems).
Thus, at this airport, that means that departing passengers end up just walking out of the terminal, passing firstly through the closely-guarded sliding glass doors into a closed corridor spanning the length of the lounge, before exiting through another door on the other end, getting out on to the tarmac, and following the yellow lines to the waiting plane. Passenger arrivals are even more dramatic, as all of a sudden, you get a large swarm of people powering through that sealed-off corridor and pouring out from one specific set of sliding doors.
Of course, one of the main benefits of such a nice long window like this is of course that you get to observe the planes sitting out there, and the going ons of the airport operations. In particular, there was a particularly striking ATR-72 with a black and white paintjob. From memory, Air New Zealand only really does this for certain "special" jets (e.g. the new 787-9 that we just got delivered as the "launch customer" of that model is painted in a distinctive and sleek "All Black" livery). In this case, it turns out that this was the plane which had just flown up from Dunedin :)
Also, from what I've read about these jets, that thing beside the boarding stairs might be the thingy they place under the tail when passengers get on and off which stop the plane's tail from getting too heavy, causing it to get unbalanced and to tip over.
Three planes in one shot
The Rest of the Terminal
I don't think I've ever posted any decent photos of the exterior of the terminal during the day. So, here goes...
Meanwhile, this traveller seems to have quite the baggage in tow!
The jagged-donut sculpture on the lawn beside the control tower
The control tower. Along with the terminal building, this gets lit up in beautiful coloured LED lighting at night, and is quite a sight to behold. IIRC, all the air traffic movements in the south island depend on this tower at some point, since this is the main "Airways NZ" hub (at least for the south island) IIRC. From job listing adverts, I do know that the Airways NZ team working on developing and maintaining the air traffic control software used in this country (and probably being exported to other countries too) is developed here in Christchurch.