If I had told my teenage self that in 15 years' time I would be living in Auckland and loving every second of it, I would have told myself to take a hike. If I had bypassed Auckland I would be missing out on the most exciting time in the City Of Sails' history.
There's a buzz about Auckland. It's an effervescence that's infectious and stimulating, as old buildings are transformed at a dizzying rate into incredible restaurants, bars, cafes and public spaces. We are claiming back our waterfront, and the calibre of events that are put on keeps getting higher.
Over the past three years, Auckland has come of age, transitioning from the apologetic little sister of Sydney to a vibrant world-class city with its own personality. In my opinion, after spending many years living overseas, Auckland is now the best city on the planet; a perfect blend of an incredible lifestyle mixed with tremendous career and business opportunities, and the rest of the world is starting to notice, too.
In the same week the Mercer Quality of Living survey ranked Auckland as the third most livable city in the world, home appliance designers the De'Longhi Group opened its premium walk-in concept store on Khyber Pass Rd.
The Auckland showroom is the fourth to be opened by the European appliance powerhouse, after Shanghai, Paris and Milan. The city was chosen as a location for the global design brand's flagship concept store before Sydney, New York or London. If that isn't an indication of how Auckland is viewed on the world stage, I'm not sure what is.
I was privileged to attend the opening of the De'Longhi showroom last week. In design, it's exactly what you'd expect from a company that has its headquarters in Italy.
European elegance and sophistication oozes throughout every corner of the long, narrow room.
You would be forgiven for thinking you had walked into an art gallery or exhibition space
rather than a store dedicated to showcasing toasters, kettles, food processors, coffee machines and other home appliances.
At the far end, an oversized black-and-white image of Italian women eating icecream fills the wall, setting a monochromatic tone for the space, which is simple looking but took hours of design to ensure the smallest of detail was considered and resolved to produce such beautiful simplicity.
Of course the heroes of the design are the products. The wares of company's three brands, De'Longhi, Kenwood and Braun, are exquisitely on display, their fashionable forms and drool-inducing colour combinations lit like pieces of art.
In the middle of the showroom is a fully functional concept kitchen, which acts as a demonstration zone for the range of products on sale and allows for the space to be turned into a unique venue for private events and functions.
Which is what we were treated to on the opening night as Josh Emett created for us a disruptive dessert that challenged the conventions of restaurant fine dining by using everyday appliances from the De'Longhi Group range, including an iron. Yes, an iron, to cook through freshly sliced peaches.
Immersive demonstrations like this are exactly the intention of these spaces, according to Paolo Albertoni, the De'Longhi Group's chief executive for Australia and New Zealand.
"It's where we can bring to life our beautiful brands and our beautiful products so our customers can try them, play with them and create a connection with them," Albertoni told me.
And I'm warning you now, you will connect with almost every product on display and lust after the retro forms, metallic hues and playful colours.
I guarantee you'll walk out an hour later like I did, your arms full, wallet a little lighter and a giant smile on your face.
I asked Josh Emett for his favourite appliances in the showroom and he selected these five kitchen must-haves:
1. De'Longhi Scultura 4 Slice White Toaster. If Emett had his way he'd design his entire kitchen around the beauty of this toaster.
2. Braun Iron. Yes, the very one Emett used to create his disruptive dessert.
3. Braun Hand-blender. Every kitchen needs one.
4. Kenwood Kitchen Machine. Helping you become a baking god or goddess.
5. De'Longhi Primadonna Avant Fully Automatic Coffee Maker. For
those early starts in the kitchen.
• Find it: The De'Longhi Group Showroom, 99 Khyber Pass Rd, Newmarket. Open Monday-Friday.