The Difference between Auckland and Wellington
No doubt about it, Auckland is the big smoke of New Zealand. I mean that purely figuratively; out of the thousands of people I’ve passed in the street, a mere handful of them smoke. From what I’ve seen.
I moved here two weeks ago today. My mother and her husband drove me up, my entire life’s possessions taking up a back seat (and my scooter in the trailer). The weight of my possessions tripled when we picked up a bed I’d spontaneously purchased on trade. I had the choice between a $70 wireframe and a much much much more expensive thick gorgeous wooden number. A good friend quipped, ‘You’re going to use it every day,’ and that oak bastard’s fate was sealed.
Navigating the most Wellington-like streets of Kingsland tested our patience, but everybody kept admiringly calm, and the two boxes full of my hard drives and Harry Potter books were hauled into my new room. Me and mum assembled my bed, we indulged in some buttery, sugary bakery food at the Most Littered Park in Auckland, and that was it. As I watched the truck pull away Southward, I was struck by a profound sense of nothing much. Much like a birthday signifying a new year of life, a chapter of my life closed and another began:
HJW: THE AUCKLAND YEARS
The difference between Wellington and Auckland can be summed up thus:
Aucklanders are more confident and unashamed about what they want and how quick they want it, as if the number of heartbeats thumped through a transaction directly correlates with what you’ll be charged.
Wellington hospitality interaction
A customer enters a cafe. Nods to the server.
’Hey there, how’re you doing?’ says the customer.
‘You kidding?’ *points outside at weather*
‘Ah, can’t beat Wellington on a good day.’ (This phrase can be used in any and all exchanges regarding weather or Wellington or any other city in the world) ‘What can I do for you?’
‘Just a long black, thanks.’
‘Oh, could you throw some cinnamon on the top there please?’
’Of course. Cinnamon on a black coffee huh? Haven’t heard of that one before.’
‘It’s delicious. Nature’s superfood.’
‘That right? Well, huh.’
*smiles all round*
‘Three dollars fifty, thanks.’
Auckland hospitality integration
A customer walks in. ’Long black with cinnamon.’
Aucklanders wear what they fit into well, not what they think would look good if they had the body they wanted.
A friend of mine pointed this out to me, completely devoid of judgement. If you’re obese or tiny but you live in Wellington, you can get away wearing anything. Fluorescent miniskirt with a slab of flesh hanging over the side? Go for it. Oversized trench coat inspired by Neo in The Matrix? Be my guest. People don’t really care that much. But in Auckland? It doesn’t seem to happen. Sure, there are people wearing bikini tops to the supermarket (miles away from the beach), or sleeping in shit-stained sweat pants on the side of the street, but their clothes seem to fit their shape well.
Traffic is ridiculous
Granted, I came forewarned. If I had a nickel for every time I heard about the nightmarish traffic in Auckland, I’d have a lot of nickels. I’d trade them in for a bicycle and take the cycle lanes through the city. Although it’d take weeks to transport those damn nickels if I had to drive a car. Anything’s faster than cars. I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a scooter. If I’m happy ignoring the huffing faces when I pull up to the front of a traffic light, swerving my way between the lanes of stationary cars, I can cover up to three times the ground of a car in the same amount of time.
If you’re late for surgery or a tinder date, you’re in trouble. This city seems to be planned for those who enjoy taking their time in life, relaxing and breathing in the fumes while watching the wiles of life pass them by. If you’re the kind of person who sees an old person in a rocking chair and thinks, ‘that’s the life I want,’ then have I got news for you. Auckland traffic is the modern equivalent. Except in place of a rocking chair and tranquil view, you’re stuck in a sweatbox listening to the collective groaning and grunting of metal and gasoline.
House parties are a thing again
Can you remember growing up in a small town and partying in garages until sunrise? Tina would be vomiting in the bushes from too many KGBs, Ryan would be starting to get lippy and wanting to fight his best friends due to dark spirits awakening his inner demons, and Katherine would be starting to scout those who remain standing for anyone sober enough to get it up. Remember when that all changed? Midnight would arrive and everybody wanted to head into town. To dance. As if you couldn’t dance to the stereo in the lounge. Why leave the comforts of home and self-mixed drinks for the expense of taxis and extortionate drinks, run-ins with power-hungry bouncers and the irresistible pull of greasy kebabs?
Good news: Aucklanders have house parties. This past fortnight has had me invited to half a dozen house parties (some on a school night even). I know what you’re thinking, and it’s the first thing that came to my mind too; we can get naked without being arrested.
There is no jealousy-induced intercity rivalry from Aucklanders
Telling Wellingtonians I was moving to Auckland was greeted with two parts disdain, one part confusion.
‘Why?’ was the most common response. There were a handful of optimists who wished me well and ensured me I’d enjoy myself. For the most part, citizens of Wellington seem to harbour resentment for citizens of Auckland. The harbour city against the city of sails. Why?
Everybody I’ve spoken to about living in Wellington (and I’ve spoken to everybody I meet about it because it’s one of the only conversation starters I have now that weather isn’t a viable option) has been enthusiastic.
‘Oh, I love Wellington!’
‘That place is so arty and cool!’
‘Wow, I haven’t been there much myself but I’ve heard great things.’
When I tell them about my Ankylosing Spondylitis and the warmer weather being better for my health, they nod politely and express apologetic sympathy, as if they’ve been put in the awkward position of being a favourite aunty who’s just been told they’re better liked than another aunty.
It’s now 2am and I have a whole lot of reading in the sun to do tomorrow. I’m sure in the next few weeks I’ll find some things about Auckland that aren’t so sexy. For now, through my rose tinted specs, I feel it’s going to be a very comfortable life here. Sure I miss Wellington, but it’s more the people I miss, the places I miss purely for the memories attached to them. I might one day move back, and I’ll surely be back to visit often until that hypothetical day comes. But for now, I sing the praises of Auckland and rejoice for the humid warmth hugging my poor arthritic spine.
Please let me know if you’re up this way. I have a nice new bed you can stay in.
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