For some reason, returning to Auckland after a holiday away always puts me in a particularly septic mood.

It doesn't matter whether I've been overseas or down the line, when I return to the City of Sails my rage increases from the moment I arrive at Auckland Airport and face yet another long journey to get to my home in the central city.

After a weekend sojourn to New Plymouth, I decided to ride back to town on the SkyBus.

On this treacherous ride, most of which was spent stuck in traffic on Dominion Rd, I looked around at my fellow passengers who were mostly international tourists.


I felt embarrassed and bad for them that this was their first impression of Auckland: grey and uninspiring, with nothing worth looking at during the drive to the city.

A screen on the bus tried to extol the various virtues of Auckland: Rangitoto! Riverhead! Some other stuff! One image showed a crowd of tourists photographing Auckland's harbour - as if it wasn't mostly taken up by ugly shipping containers.

I love Auckland, in general. I'm Auckland-born and bred - that rare breed. There is a lot of beauty in my city, but mostly, you've got to get out of town to see it. I've had my moments on the ferry to Waiheke where I think, "Man, am I lucky", but those moments are sullied by everything that doesn't work.

It was only last year that I visited Sydney for the first time. It was a city that blew my mind - like a bigger, tackier (in a good way) Auckland. It seems to have found the formula for making a major metropolitan city into a tourist attraction in its own right. And don't get me started about the trains. Being able to get from the airport to the city centre in 13 minutes without even going outside is a major drawcard.

Unfortunately for Auckland, we're only a gateway and unless things change, that's all we'll ever be. For the sake of our tourism market, we should probably just fly visitors directly to Queenstown.

Eli Orzessek is Travel's Digital Content Producer.
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