Despite attracting some negative press for its formidable real estate pricing and supply/demand challenges, Auckland, fondly known as the City of Sails, continues to attract ever-growing numbers of overseas migrants seeking a taste of the good life.
So given that Auckland is consistently rated as one of the most expensive international cities to buy property in, why is it that tens of thousands of migrants still flock here year after year?
Probably because Auckland is still a fantastic place to live and regularly scores in the top bracket worldwide for international living standards indicators and in studies such as the Mercer Quality of Living survey.
The 2017 Mercer Quality of Living index ranked Auckland at an outstanding third out of 450 international cities, trailing only European super cities Vienna and Switzerland. It’s a tribute to Auckland’s remarkable lifestyle appeal that the City of Sails and Vancouver are the only non-European cities to feature in the top ten rankings. An undeniably outstanding achievement for a city that only numbers 1.4 million people.
So what are the various factors that contribute to Auckland’s outstanding over-all lifestyle?
The Mercer report looks at a range of highly practical, measurable, factors such as political stability, crime levels, economic environment, cultural/personal freedom, health services, standard of education, transport, housing and environmental cleanliness. Auckland scores extremely highly in these criteria.
But these metrics alone don’t fully capture the true appeal of this city, there’s also a range of more specifically ‘experiential’ factors that we think potential migrants and shorter term visitors should take into consideration.
Auckland’s natural beauty
Auckland is fondly known as the City of Sails for good reason, its primary cultural identity is derived from its stunning natural features. This is a city that boasts not just one, but two extremely scenic and unspoilt natural harbours: the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours.
On any given day, summer, autumn, winter, or spring you can take a stroll along the tree-lined meandering 8.2 km scenic harbour-side path and cycleway known as Tamaki Drive and you’ll see a variety of recreational activity on Auckland Harbour with yachts, launches, paddle boarders, kayakers, recreational fishermen, kite and wind surfers dotting the blue expanse.
The spectacular 1,020 metre long Auckland Harbour Bridge has spanned the Waitemata since 1959 and connects the North Shore and central city suburbs. The Harbour Bridge rises 43 metres above sea level and if you take a drive across on a fine day and you’ll be treated to a spectacular vista that spans all the way out of the harbour towards the Hauraki Gulf and unmissable volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island.
During the balmy spring-summer months from November-April, Aucklanders flock to an extensive range of pristine beaches such as Takapuna Beach, Long Bay and Mission Bay around the North Shore and eastern suburbs harbour edges. Beach goers enjoy clean white sand perfect for sunbathing, warm, family friendly ocean swells, plentiful parking options and a host of affordable eateries within walking distance.
Auckland is also widely known for having the most dormant volcanic cones situated in one urban area (49) in the world. These numerous peaks offer panoramic views from all over the city, the most famous and spectacular of which is the towering symmetrical volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island – a distinctively iconic landmark that looms 260 metres high just outside the entrance to Auckland harbour. Rangitoto Island is a beacon for day-trippers who paddle or sail to its shores where they embark up the trails to a spectacular viewing platform at its peak.
The City of Sails also offers some stunning land based natural splendour with its governing body the Auckland Council boasting a 100,000 hectare portfolio of parks, reserves and green open spaces. The Waitakere Ranges regional park is a quick 40 minute drive from the CBD and boasts panoramic views and lush native bush forests with Department of Conservation walking trails, native birds and rare native trees like Rimu, Kauri and the iconic New Zealand fern.
Long Bay Regional Park is also highly popular with tourists and residents alike. True to its name, Long Bay features a stunning long white sand beach and extensive grass picnic grounds where beachgoers can use free barbeque facilities and kids are entertained on playgrounds or in the safe, forgiving, swells.
Auckland’s ‘foodie culture’
When it comes to eating out Auckland is increasingly making a name for itself as a city boasting a variety of world class dining options.
The upmarket central city suburb of Ponsonby is arguably the most popular spot in town for food aficionados with its bustling main street Ponsonby Road the hub of activity both day and night. There are numerous highly rated restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs and boutique designer fashion stores to be found and locals like to claim that this colourful strip includes more cafes on one road than found anywhere else in the Southern hemisphere. Some of the most highly rated Ponsonby restaurants you’ll find include Sidart, Prego, Jervois Steakhouse, Mekong Baby, Moochowchow and Ponsonby Road Bistro amongst others.
The downtown Britomart entertainment precinct is a relatively new addition to the Auckland ‘foodie scene.’ This area has been given a significant ‘face lift’ over the last decade by the Council and is now a hub of modern, up-market eateries, rooftop bars and pulsating nightclubs. This is a great place for a meal before a night out in the city and conveniently Britomart is the main hub of Auckland’s rail and bus network too. Highly regarded dining establishments here include Café Hanoi, Ostro Brasserie and Bar and Xuxu Dumpling Bar.
Takapuna is the main dining, socialising and retail hub of Auckland’s affluent North Shore region and is another area that has enjoyed significant investment, growth and improved quality over the last decade. Like Britomart, you’ll find numerous high quality restaurants to sample and inviting bars where you can catch a game of televised live sport or cut some shapes on the dance floor, should the mood take you. Eateries to look out for include Madam Woo, the ‘hipster’ style food alley known as Fortieth & Hurstmere, or check out one of the excellent Gastro Pubs like The Gardens or The Elephant Wrestler.
Not far from Britomart you’ll find one of Auckland’s most well established nightlife and dining precincts, the Viaduct Basin. Like Britomart there are plentiful fine dining venues to be found and this area is equally well known for its ‘clubbing scene’ with festive partygoers packing the pubs and bars from Wednesday night through to Saturday weekly. Notable eating options here include The Culpeper (ocean views), Soul Bar and Bistro and a little further away you’ll find Auckland ‘institution’ Euro (ocean views).
It would also be extremely remiss not to make mention of Auckland’s ‘hat rated’ and Michelin star restaurants, dotted all over the central city area. Some of these include: The French Café, The Grove, Sidart, Merediths, Baduzzi, O’Connell St Bistro & Bar, The Grill, Depot, Masu and Clooney.
Aucklanders love sport
Last but certainly not least, Auckland is a passionate sporting city having hosting the Rugby World Cup twice (winning both tournaments), Commonwealth Games twice, Cricket World Cup twice and truly living up to its City of Sails moniker by hosting the world’s oldest sporting competition The America’s Cup yacht racing series twice (and scheduled to host the next iteration).
As is the case everywhere in New Zealand, Rugby is the most popular sport both in participation and public interest but there’s also a huge range of other sports available for locals and visitors to participate in, or attend. Over the summer cricket is hugely popular, basketball and netball too and outdoors pursuits of many different kinds. Aucklanders are represented by a number of professional sports franchises too, including the Auckland Blues (Super Rugby Championship), The Auckland Warriors (NRL – Rugby League), The Auckland Aces (Cricket) and the Northern Mystics (Netball). The national representative teams the All Blacks (Rugby) and Black Caps (cricket) play regular international level matches at Auckland’s biggest sports stadium Eden Park.
Whether you’re excited by experiencing the stunning natural splendour of Auckland’s outdoors life, its many mouth-watering dining options and entertainment hubs, or getting a live sporting fix as a fan or participant, Auckland is a city fast making a name for itself - with so much quality of life to offer.