Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath: Why Auckland is better than the rest of New Zealand

New Zealand is a beautiful place and this city its crown jewel.
The views across Auckland from atop Mt Eden are astonishing. Photo / Greg Bowker
The views across Auckland from atop Mt Eden are astonishing. Photo / Greg Bowker

There is a lot of talk about Aucklanders selling up and moving to the regions. There are too few houses here and too few people elsewhere. Small town New Zealand can't understand why we would battle through insane property prices and traffic when we could pick up a zero commute mansion in their area. To them living in Auckland is illogical. They think we are idiots. They think we are being ripped off. They laugh at us. Some hate us. Amazingly some are so backward they still think the 1980s acronym Jafa is funny. Many blame their regional economic woes on Auckland. To them it's simple: Auckland is full and horrible, their town is awesome but empty. So move.

What they never factor into their equations is Auckland itself. The main reason we live in Auckland is because Auckland is a great place to live. The best in the country. We love to live here. We are willing to put up with higher prices and longer travel times because the place is so damned good. No doubt New Zealand is a beautiful place, but people forget Auckland is one of the most beautiful places in the country.

Nip up Mt Eden and look out across the city at Rangitoto. How great is that view? Swing round and look back out at the Waitakeres. We live in a tree city set among volcanoes. It's like Endor. Ewoks would be happy here. We have relaxing beaches on the North Shore and full-on ones out West. Jump on a ferry to Waiheke, have a sniff around Rodney. It's bloody great around here.

I was on the West Coast of the South Island a few weeks back. It's stunning down there. The trip over Arthur's Pass is one of the most scenic drives in the world and every corner the view is more beautiful than the last. I was forced to get out of the car every 20 minutes to take a snap. On the way back I missed my plane due to excessive phone photography.

Greymouth is a great town too. I love the West Coast. So why don't tens of thousands of Aucklanders sell their villas, shift down there and buy a Cobden beachfront place for $30,000? There are amazing empty places all over the country. My home town in Otago is fantastic and cheap. What about Marlborough, Canterbury, Taranaki, Northland, Bay of Plenty? All great places, so why not cash up the capital gain and never work again? The answer is: Auckland. We can visit the rest of the country but the living is good here.

We are willing to put up with higher prices and longer travel times because the place is so damned good.

This week my family and I took our dog for a walk along the rocky concrete North Shore boardwalks from Takapuna past Minnehaha to Milford. Round the bays, across the ex-lava, in front of the billion-dollar houses, looking out to sea through pohutukawa. It's halfway through June and I was in a T-shirt. The kids jumped in the water in their clothes and soaked themselves to the bone. I sat on a wall sweating in the sunlight.

The next day we were down Orpheus Drive checking out the very cool Onehunga seashore development before crossing over that stylish new motorway walking bridge to watch some wakeboarding. That afternoon we were up Big King Reserve with hundreds of friendly, happy Auckland dog owners. Followed by a Sunday roast at Galbraith's. I couldn't help but think: Auckland isn't crap.

New Zealand is beautiful and so is Auckland. While the regions hate us and call us names we don't hate them back. We don't need to.

Here, we not only look great but also have lots to do, hundreds of amazing restaurants, weekly international concerts, job opportunities up the wazoo and 20C days in June. The main reason people don't leave Auckland is because of Auckland.

Sure house prices are insane, traffic is crap and it rains a lot. But we live here because Auckland is Auckland. So shove that up your jacksy and smoke it, regional New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath is a breakfast radio host on Radio Hauraki, and a television producer, writer and director. He made a name for himself with Back of The Y Masterpiece Television, Balls of Steel UK and the feature film The Devil Dared Me To. Matt was guitarist and singer for the band Deja Voodoo which released two top twenty albums. He is currently a producer on Best Bits, a cricket commentator for The Alternative Commentary Collective, and the director of Vinewood Motion Graphics. Matt is a father of two living in Auckland City.

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