In 1990 I took my first passport and ventured on my first trip overseas from Australia. This was a journey like no other and it meant I would be moving to a new country at the tender age of 4 years old.
At the time and in the years to come I began to know this new home of mine. It was not Australia but it was a new place I explored within my smaller stature. The truth is that the country I was going to was near identical culturally to my own in many ways, but it was my first taste of a worldly view. It began my life goal of seeing the world.
I lived in this new city known as Auckland, New Zealand until the age of 12 when I returned to Sydney, Australia I once left behind. I was not the chooser of my new adventure, although I was living it in all my chosen episodes of life where travel holds a life changing quality in me.
I learnt the national anthem of New Zealand in the local language of Maori and quickly adapted with a New Zealander accent in next to no time. I began to know this city as my own and yet in my 16 years since venturing here, I have come to know much of this world we live in. This step over the Tasman Sea was my first look at what international life could be like and I think it was a good experience for a young gentleman by the name of Paul or Pablo.
My recent adventure to the city made me see things differently and in a world with adult eyes. Everything seemed smaller as once upon a time everything seemed oversized from my tiny child world.
Auckland is a nice little city and on this trip I took some time to explore the islands of Waiheke and Rangitoto off the coast. I loved how nature was so close to this urban space in a way that leaves much of the modern world jealous.
Hiking and the outdoors is one quality of life here in Auckland that I really enjoyed like I never knew as a child. I liked exploring the outdoors more in my modern days and exploration was something that Auckland offers one.
I do need to insert a tiny predicament I was having with Auckland. I can see why this is the case, a problem of being the big smoke of the country but not wanting that title necessarily. Being two categories of development and the realities that this creates in the country’s largest city. Do we want big urban space or do we want sleepy nature’s gateway?
Around the inner city I started to notice a high number of parking spaces and lots. All are built with street frontage and ruining the cityscape a little. In place of the great greenery that is a good quality of Auckland generally or a nice shop, café or library frontage we have…a car park…spaces to park a car, cars are pieces of machinery and aren’t a great addition to the eyes as you walk around the city.
If we don’t have a car park, then we have numerous car parks and this includes large parking lots that tower over the city with floor after floor. Better public transport services could make this somewhat small sized city a better place to live.
In saying this quality of Auckland, I must say there is also an attempt to always show greenery. Many of the highways are lined with a good number of trees and I can see some areas where roads have not been widened but are in good use by pretty trees. This is something similar in Australia that I love, in many global cities it is simply concrete that sits alongside highways when space could be used more sustainably.
Auckland has a charm that I love, it is a small big city but it has a character due to being the country’s largest. The problems of large cities are an unfortunate truth of Auckland. Be it Homelessness or Traffic, it is still a city that attempts to be independent from the larger Australian cities on the east coast of the continent.
I like the reality of Auckland as a trendsetter and others in New Zealand always make fun of it for the city’s size. I do think the character of New Zealand still exists and the realities of urban life are hard to exclude.
New Zealand is a green and naturally driven country (insert landscapes of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for my international readers) but we cannot forget its people. Many more internationally are noticing the good lives lived in New Zealand and migration does not look like something that will be slowing down any time soon.
Auckland is the main receiver of migrants and new people are calling the city home.
I feel it is pretty and just a few things need to change, as some realities need to be addressed, not ignored. One of them is better public transport infrastructure but the truth is that this costs huge amounts of money. Two new inner city train stations are currently being built and I think that is a step in the right direction.
One song that keeps playing over and over in my head is from a shopping advertisement from when I was young…”here in the heart of Auckland City…nothing beats faster”
I guess that might be the future of the country’s largest city, housing one third of the country’s population. Whether the people of Auckland like it or not, it remains the gateway to this fabulous country and certainly my own to a worldly explorative nature.