Over the last two years Auckland has become my second home.
It hasn’t been an easy transition; I was a messy-haired kid from liberal arty Wellington who was dragged kicking-punching-screaming into becoming a jafa. But now, well into my second year, I have found myself with grudging respect and blossoming affection for the ‘big smoke’ and all the little treasures that I’ve found within it.
And as always, it feels right to share it with you!
Vibe: Huge. Auckland is expansive and towering and big. Even if you’re like me and stay very central to where you live you are still always aware of how expansive the city is around you. Overpowering. Busy but occasionally without purpose – people seem to walk in circles instead of straight lines. Surprising pockets of beautiful things – like free fireworks at the museum every night for a week. The people are tenacious, strong, thick-skinned with fancy shoes and blistered feet. It’s a city; there are bright lights, big shows, flashy restaurants – mostly for visitors. To live here you need a purpose to survive. But it’s big enough to escape within too. There are huge pieces of beautiful coast and winding forest roads. Occasional warm, snuggly vibes when you’re a white-waffle duvet caterpillar and it’s raining outside. Moments of bliss when you get to disappear into the hugeness of it all.
Highlights: In a city this size you have to have everything – and we do. If you have a car there are so many amazing beaches and places to see. Gorgeous retreats such as Waiheke are only a ferry trip away – there is Rainbows End! And there are so many malls, theatres and delicious places to eat. Double decker busses, beautiful galleries, an expanse of amazing stores both high class and second hand. International headliners all pass through here if they visit NZ. Living in Auckland means living in a kind of global centre as far as NZ is concerned. The university is also really cool if you are into urban campuses, it has great coffee and a nice student vibe. It’s warm, leaves actually turn orange in autumn and there a lot of cool people here with really big dreams
Lowlights: It can be too big, too harsh, and too unhospitable. If you don’t have a car you tend to only commute directly between where you have to be rather than exploring too far. Things are EXPENSIVE $$, transport, food, coffee (basically you never actually experience the highlights when you live here because its too far out of your way). You have to ask for a double shot at 99% of places. There is a Gloria Jeans coffee place every couple of hundred metres and that’s ‘considered café culture.’ Disparities between poverty and wealth are more evident and there is definitely tension on the streets at time. Sometimes the lack of art, culture and just relaxation is kind of a buzzkill, especially having come from Wellington. Similarly and unsurprisingly it’s more diverse and consequentially less liberal. You meet a lot of cool people who just have really shitty ideas about equality and life. Also it rains a lot.
Must Do If Visiting:
- Take time to go out to the beaches, like Piha or Anawhata.
- Go up the Sky tower just for the life experience.
- Visit Giapo for a higher-class ice cream.
- Walk out to Silo; it’s a nice time.
- Just Google ‘fun things to do’ – there are super niche things like glow in the dark mini-golf and an inflatable world for adults that are cheap and hilarious.
Feds Deli has bottomless coffee and its pretty good quality.
IT WILL RAIN ON YOU! IT WILL RAIN. IT’S GOING TO RAIN.
One Tree Hill has better views than Mount Eden just saying.
There are free bikes on the waterfront.
Countdown not New World.
Most of the clubs have entry fees past 10pm so be careful where you go.
K road for op shops.
Look Sharp for costumes/glitter/cards/fabric/fake shit/its sells everything I love this store.
I like Auckland.
Admittedly it has grown on me. I know that other people who moved here from rural areas loved it instantly but I was such a fan of Wellington that for me it was too big and confusing. It also didn’t help that for the first six months I blamed Auckland exclusively for all the things I missed from pre-uni life. But now – I like it. It isn’t cohesive and it doesn’t have a collective culture or sense of community – but it does celebrate individuality and I really admire that.
There are so many cool people here – most of them chasing massive dreams. There are artists and intellects and people saving to travel and poets and finance fiends and doctors and they all have stories and lives and it’s cool. It’s really fun to involve yourself in things that allow you to meet all these amazing souls. There are also just so many individual spots, cafes, shops that don’t exist anywhere but here – places that couldn’t exist anywhere but here.
I think the biggest learning curve is that you have to create your own world. In other cities you go out and things just start happening – there is so much culture and collective energy that you become a part of things without trying. Here you have to make it work for yourself. Which is scary but when you finally work out how to do it – holy fuck you are so proud.
Auckland has a climate for growth and so much potential as a city. I am always really awed by how all the kids I’ve moved here with have grown up as result of choosing UoA and I am kind of psyched for us. It’s a wild place to visit and a ridiculous place to live but there is definitely something special about it.
Definitely worth giving a shot!
(also I will be posting Part II of this post which is written by a GUEST AUTHOR)