When asked to point it out on a map, many people have no idea where New Zealand is – let alone Auckland.
Some think it is conjoined to Australia, that it’s part of Asia, or even nestled away in the depths of Europe. The success of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and the hilarious ‘Flight of the Concords’ duo has helped to put it on the map, however for many people New Zealand is still a mysterious land filled with Volcanoes, Jurassic park style scenery and maybe even hobbits lurking around in it’s depths.
I have had the privilege of growing up in New Zealand, spending all 28 years of my life to date living here. I would highly recommend making the move to anybody who is dreaming of living in Auckland.
Despite being an avid traveler with constant itchy feet I am still quite the advocate of my home land. New Zealand is made up of two main islands (and a number of considerably smaller ones) known as the North and South Islands, or in the language of the indigenous Maoris: Te Ika-a-Māui for the northern most island and Te Waipounamu for the more southern of the two.
Moving to Auckland City been been one of the more memorable landmarks of my adult life to date, having come from Christchurch city in the south – a considerably smaller and less metropolitan city where I had spent most my life.
Auckland felt like the ‘big city lights’ for me, and at first it was overwhelming and hard to comprehend – it expanded far out to the south inland, right out into the hills and the ocean to the west, and over the harbor bridge to an endless dabbling of scenic seaside suburbs for as far north as you could see. In comparison to other cities of the world, Auckland is actually rather small with it’s population of around 1.4million people (which is about 32% of the entire population of NZ, the rest of the country is quite unpopulated in comparison!) compared to Sydney’s 4.6 million or Beijing’s whopping 21 million, Auckland is still just a small town.
Over the past 4 years, Auckland (also known as Tāmaki Makaurau, and pronounced something like tah-mah-key mah-kow-row) has completely stolen my heart, and has become my home.
The beauty of this city and New Zealand in general really comes from its proximity to everything , even when you are in the busy central business district (CBD) packed with excellent shopping, restaurants and nightlife; you are still less than a 10 minute drive from the nearest golden sand beaches, lined with gelato stands, trendy cafes and paddle boarders dotted out on the ocean.
Central Auckland Suburbs
The variety of suburbs is something that has really attracted me here – there really is something for everyone. The suburbs surrounding the CBD are an excellent start: New Market is a retail haven, Parnell for it’s views and restaurants, and ponsonby for its hip and trendy vibe – up market stores, cool and eclectic cafes and busy bars in the evenings. If you head a little further into the surrounding suburbs you can find some really interesting areas: personally I love mt Eden, it is wonderful for going walking or jogging and finishing off with a coffee at one of it’s many cafes. Sandringham is known for it’s Indian influence – an excellent place to go out for a curry or to stock up the spice cupboard. Kingsland is only a few train stops from central and is really up and coming with a young and vibrant night life as well as unique restaurants and lazy laid back spots to find a beer in the summer. Between the central city and it’s closest beach you will find Remuera, where you can really sink into the ‘old money’ feel.. people watch and spy some gorgeous old style & very expensive mansion-eque properties.
Further out from the center toward the south suburbs expanse out from the pacific island (mainly Samoan & Tongan) influenced areas of Otahuhu and Otara, these areas are typically lower decile areas than the rest of Auckland, but certainly vibrant and a lot of pacific island and local flavor. The Otara Flea markets held every Saturday from 6am until 12pm are jam packed full of Polynesian foods, music, clothes and handicrafts not to be missed.
Heading west from the CBD takes less than 30 minutes before you reach the Waitakere ranges… this stunning 25 km range of native New Zealand bush is idyllic and wild all at once – full of tree ferns, waterfalls, hiking track, rugged black sand beaches with dramatic white sheering cliffs, even glow worms. Once you get into the West of Auckland wilderness you feel like you have stepped back into the prehistoric ages, even though you have barely left the city. The west coast beaches are always full of surfers chasing down the big waves, or for a different kind of adventure it is only 4 hours to the nearest Ski Fields at Mt Ruepehu.
Nestled in the beginning of the Waitakere ranges is the picturesque Titirangi village. This is where I currently live, and in my opinion is one of the best locations that Auckland has to offer. You feel like you have stepped into a small town miles away from any city, where everybody is a local and will know you by name, even though you are only a small commute from the CBD (On a traffic-less day it might only take 20 minutes to get right into the heart of the city center). Titirangi has some incredible cafes – Hardware Cafe and Stripe Cafe are my two personal favorites, as well as a supermarket, local theater, incredible food/crafts market on the last Sunday of every month, and a selection of small local shops and businesses.
North Auckland: The North Shore
If you head over the Auckland Harbor bridge from the central city you end up at the north shore. Known for it’s cafe scene and pristine beaches, the north shore is worth a look at. The naval base suburb of Devonport is quite the opposite of how it sounds – with a charming seaside small town feel, gorgeous small artisan shops and art galleries it hosts some of the most spectacular views across the harbor of Auckland city and the famous sky tower. You can drive over the harbor bridge to reach Devonport, or alternatively it is only a 10 minute ferry ride across the water, with ferries leaving from downtown Auckland city on a very regular basis each day.
There are so many other areas to explore that I have yet to mention – so keep your eye outfor more posts! In the mean time, If you want even more Auckland Inspiration try checking out east Auckland including the yacht lovers paradise of Howick, further north up to the gorgeous rural village of Matakana, and rural south Auckland around Pukekohe – stay tuned for more in depth information about this glorious city.
When I first made the big shift up to Auckland – myself and all of my worldly possessions fleeing from the Christchurch Earthquakes and journeying towards an exciting new life, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this city. I expected ‘big city’ things such as pollution, crime and endless grey dreary buildings, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have fallen in love with the diversity of Auckland, all the parks, the trees and how each part of the city has it’s own unique personality. I will travel again soon, and surely discover many more places that steal my heart away – however Auckland has made a huge impression on me, and I urge everybody who gets the chance to come and visit this diverse and magical place.
Do you live in Auckland? Where’s your favorite place and why? If you haven’t been yet – what are you looking forward to seeing or doing when you finally do? I love to hear other peoples perspectives on this amazing city, so get in touch & leave a comment!