Auckland is referred to as the City of Sails and after only being here a few weeks it was clear that New Zealanders have a close affinity to the water. It is easy to spot the canoes, kayaks, jet boats, dingys, ferries and sailboats that cross the harbour. Speaking to a number of kiwis it is clearly a firm attachment that a lot have; many spoke of their keenness to get out on the water with the summer season rapidly approaching.
After Melbourne, Auckland felt a much smaller city by comparison, but it similarly has a sprawling nature that masks its true size. The Central Business District and affluent North Shore are both close to gorgeous beaches; however heading down to the southern suburbs – where many of the Pascifica and Maori communities are based, is a trial of public transportation. Anecdotally I had heard that New Zealand has the highest car ownership per capita and that Auckland is also now the biggest city in land coverage for its size of population. So, like in Melbourne, here in Auckland the city is expanding outwards rather than upwards like in Singapore.
The iconic Skytower looms over Auckland with the harbour bridge framing the landscape. Both can be jumped off if the desire takes hold – New Zealand is proud of its addiction to adrenaline sports and of inventing crazy activities like bungee jumping. Similarly, dotted around the local landscape are numerous hills formed by volcanoes, an immediate reminder of the volcanic nature and wild landscape that formed these islands.
Whilst owning some kind of boat certainly features highly on most New Zealander’s wish lists, for many, home ownership – and in particular the ‘quarter acre’ of land to go with it, is even more deep-rooted in their consciousness. This cornerstone of the New Zealand dream continually cropped up in conversation and made absolute sense in such a sparsely populated country. There were though indications of the trend gradually changing – notably in Auckland, where the desire to own such a sizeable plot only places further pressure on the city to expand and grow despite, as previously described, by its relatively modest population.