Brian Rudman
Brian Rudman is a Herald columnist looking at Auckland and national issues

Brian Rudman: Thanks Wellington - now we know just how cool Auckland is rated

The Big Little City has made two recent 'best of world' Lonely Planet lists. Photo / APN
The Big Little City has made two recent 'best of world' Lonely Planet lists. Photo / APN

What an insecure bunch, those Wellywooders are.

A couple of weeks back, Wellington was dubbed "the coolest little capital in the world" by travel guide company Lonely Planet. The locals lapped it up, tourism boss David Perkins calling it "priceless recognition", and chamber of commerce president Richard Stone claiming it "a huge tribute coming from such a respected publication".

But, sadly, they couldn't leave well alone. Instead of lying back and luxuriating in the unexpected accolade, they scratched and scratched until they turned up the unsavoury news - to them - that Lonely Planet has been two-timing.

Behind Wellington's back, the travel guide has been playing footsie with its big sexy northern bro, Auckland. Yesterday, local organ the Dominion Post was all hurt about a month-old "best of" posting on the Lonely Planet website, which the paper had only just discovered, listing 10 major world cities under the title "I can't believe it's not the capital!".

Horror of horrors, Auckland was there, rubbing shoulders with the likes of New York, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Marrakesh and Istanbul.

The travel writers wrote, "It's easy to see why the rest of the population refer to the inhabitants of the country's largest city as Just Another F***ing Aucklander - they're jealous! Auckland has the best weather, the fanciest restaurants and the coolest bars ..."

Oh dear, and who are we to argue, coming as it does from "such a respected publication".

The authors added, "You always expect a country's capital to be its showstopper city - the ones everyone wants to go to first - [but] sometimes the cities that seem like the capitals just, well, aren't. So here are 10 cities that might not have the official title, but they're still worthy of the honour."

Even worse news for the nervous Wellies is that Auckland stars in two more recent "best of world" lists on the Lonely Planet sites, lists which the DomPost sleuths couldn't bring themselves to report - perhaps because Wellywood missed out.

In August, Auckland was listed as one of 10 "Ultimate Party Cities", alongside Belgrade, Buenos Aires, La Paz and Baku, Azerbaijan - the last because thousands of international oil workers and consultants have made it "an oasis of excess in an otherwise fairly traditional Muslim country".

In contrast, sophisticated Auckland's "myriad cafes, bars and dinner clubs cater to a hip young clientele". Readers are told to "try the glittering waterfront for smart bars, and hit the happening clubs ..."

A couple of months before, the Waitakere ranges popped up as one of the world's 10 "greatest little-known neighbourhoods", sharing the honours with Koreatown, Toronto, Crystal Palace, London, and Balmain, Sydney.

Just think, if cool little Wellington hadn't been so insecure, we'd never have uncovered that Auckland was not just the "should be" capital, but was also an ultimate party city and one of the world's greatest neighbourhoods.

Two years ago, the former mayor of our very own "greatest little-known neighbourhood", Bob Harvey, told the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Auckland Governance that Auckland was already the de facto capital of New Zealand and it was time to legitimise the situation. "A quarter of the population lives here, it's the economic powerhouse of the country, it's the Pacific capital of the world." They wisely ignored his advice.

Auckland did the job from 1842 to 1865 until the rest of the country became so jealous they called in a group of independent Australian commissioners, who chose Wellington.

Whatever Mr Harvey and Lonely Planet might say, and Wellingtonians fear, the reverse process won't happen any time soon. Unless, that is, the overdue "big quake" sucks the capital under the sea. Then, all bets are off.

Of course, the thought that the treasures of Te Papa, and all the other state cultural spending now lavished on Wellington, could be diverted to a new Auckland capital - before a quake destroys them all - does appeal. The big turn-off is that the tens of thousands of migrating bureaucrats would bring Auckland's public transport, roading and social infrastructure to a grinding halt. Even worse, they'd want to gatecrash all those ultimate parties.

- NZ Herald

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