Parking and traffic changes pave way for return of airport drop-off lanes

parking transport map zoom

Photo: Terminal map highlighting new traffic flow and car parking options

Locals looking to a say quick goodbye to loved ones, friends or work colleagues at Queenstown Airport will be able to ‘drop and go’ more quickly when drop-off lanes are re-introduced in front of the terminal on 1 July.

Previously used by coaches, the area has been expanded to two lanes and will be a free two-minute parking area for drop-offs only. The airport’s operations team will assist with traffic flow and ensure the new area moves smoothly.

Queenstown Airport Chief Executive Colin Keel is delighted to bring back kerbside drop-offs as part of a $4.6 million parking and traffic improvement plan which has been completed over 18 months.

“We’ve worked hard to provide locals and visitors with a range of affordable parking options which include expanding public parking at the terminal, introducing a lower cost Park and Ride offering, and increasing staff carparking. We have also addressed some pressure points associated with the significant increase in passenger numbers and community growth in recent years.

“Bringing back a quick, convenient way to drop off travellers without going into the main carpark was the number one piece of feedback we received from locals. We originally moved drop-offs there because of safety concerns, but the improvements mean it can now be safely reinstated.”

The airport’s new 150-space Park and Ride facility opened on 22 June and is set to double capacity to 300 spaces in December. Together, the changes will increase the airport’s overall car parking capacity by 70 per cent in a 12-month period.

Traffic flow improvements include road widening and a new roundabout just inside the airport entrance. Combined with purpose-built coach parks and commercial pickup/drop-off areas, the new layout provides a quick entry/exit for rental cars and commercial vehicles, reducing the overall number of vehicles on the inner ring road by 40 per cent.

New parking technology will also help, with ‘Tap & Go’ being introduced in Terminal Car Parks A and B. For customers keen to do away with tickets and queuing at a pay station, Tap and Go makes it easier and more convenient to pay by credit or debit card.

“We’ve listened to feedback from residents and visitors and done our best to achieve a strong balance between options, affordability and convenience,” said Mr Keel.

He thanked the community - particularly airport staff and transport providers, neighbouring residents and frequent travellers - for their patience and co-operation during an intensive six-month construction period.

“We know that the roadworks have been visible and disruptive at times and sincerely thank everyone for their patience through the inconvenience this has caused. We hope our efforts to expand parking options will provide more clarity, choice and convenience for our customers.”

More technology, products and infrastructure improvements are on the way over the next 12 to 24 months as part of the airport’s car parking and ground transport plan. As a member of the transport governance group, the airport is also working closely with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, NZ Transport Agency and Otago Regional Council to address wider transport, parking and road infrastructure issues across the region.

Summary of changes:  

Free 2-minute (P2) public drop-off
The free 2-minute (P2) public drop-off zone has been re-instated right outside the terminal.  The airport’s operations team will be on hand to assist with traffic flow, and new signage and safety markings have been added. 
Free 20-minute public pick-up and drop-off parking
The free 20-minute public pick-up and drop-off parking remains the same – entering the short-term public carpark and using the express P20 parks located at the front of Terminal Car Park A.  The P20 parks provide the longest free parking offered by any airport in the country.
Tap and Go
Terminal Car Parks A and B, with 450 spaces situated close to the terminal building, now have ‘Tap & Go’ technology to make it easier and more convenient to pay by credit and debit cards.  Rates range from $4 from 20-40 minutes to $25 a day or $100 a week.  For more information, including maps and detailed price charts please visit
Airport road layout
Road widening and a new roundabout inside the airport entrance provide a quick entry/exit for rental cars and commercial vehicles, reducing the overall number of vehicles on the ring road by 40%.
Coach Park
The current coach park has moved from outside the terminal (where the P2 drop-off area will be from 1 July) to a new dedicated area beside Chris Read Green.
Park and Ride
The 150-space Park and Ride facility launched on 22 June in conjunction with the opening of Stage 1 of Hawthorne Drive.  Located on Brookes Rd behind Mitre 10 Mega, it provides an affordable, safe and efficient option for those looking to park for two or more days and includes a free half-hourly airport shuttle.  
Park and Ride pricing averages $10 a day or $70 a week and there is a 15% discount until 31 August to encourage travellers to try the service.  

The facility will expand to 300 spaces in December. 
Staff parking
50 car spaces have been added to the 230-space staff car park by the St John Ambulance building to cater for staff now and in the future.