Like most Aussies I know, I've spent my life poking fun at our Kiwi cousins, mostly because of the way they say "fush n' chups".
Despite this, in December 2015 I traded in my beloved Bondi Beach for Auckland, joining the 25,272 other people who migrated east across the ditch that year, compared to 24,504 who went the other way, according to Statistics NZ.
Since then, I've learned how to say "kia ora" instead of "g'day" and "chur bro" instead of "'cheers mate". I also eat feijoas by the bucket and no longer laugh when hearing words such as Whakapapa (in case you're wondering, the Wh is pronounced as an 'f').
The City of Sails has swept up and stolen my Sydney heart. Here are seven reasons I think Auckland is better than Sydney.
What has practically become a delicacy in Sydney is in plentiful supply in Auckland. Forget $5 or $6 each for an avocado, the average price for one of these creamy wonders is about $1 when in season. It's not unusual to see bags of 10 avocados for $5 (50c each) at farmers' markets.
Controversial I know, but there truly is a beach for everyone in Auckland. Forty-five minutes west of the city centre you'll find the strikingly stunning black sand beaches of Muriwai, Piha and Karekare — the latter recently being voted the second most beautiful beach in the world by Passport magazine.
Within five to 15 minutes of the CBD, you can be swimming or paddle boarding at Mission Bay, Kohimarama, St Heliers, Herne Bay or Takapuna. If you fancy a quick dip during your lunch break, there are even plenty of spots to jump in to Auckland Harbour, and you don't have to worry about sharks.
Further north but still not much more than an hour of your office, you'll find beautiful golden sand beaches complete with crystal-clear water, such as the extremely picturesque Tawharanui.
For the same price as our one-bedroom Bondi shoebox (with no car space or outdoor area), we moved in to a fully furnished waterfront apartment with expansive harbour views, just steps from the beach and only a 10-minute bike ride to the city. We go to sleep each night listening to waves lapping against boat sheds, with not a car, siren or plane within ear shot.
Less traffic, available parking and it costs nothing to cross the Harbour Bridge.
I used to spend $20 a week ($1040 a year) for the privilege of driving across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A friend of mine who lived in Randwick and worked in North Sydney would spend a great deal more on the Eastern Distributor/Harbour Bridge combo.
In Auckland, it's free to drive across the Harbour Bridge, and you don't have to go too far out of the city to find free parking either. Even in the middle of the CBD you can still pull a two-hour park for $2 an hour. As for traffic, picture Sydney on Christmas morning, and that's about how relaxing it is to navigate your car around Auckland.
Maybe it's the slower pace of life, or their easy-going nature, but Aucklanders have Sydneysiders covered in the friendliness stakes. Strangers say hi to you on your morning walk, hospitality staff may as well be working for tips like their US counterparts, such is their incredibly friendly and professional service, and making a new friendship circle has been sweet as, ay bro.
Excuse me @burgerburgernz & @betterburgernz - there's a new player in town. Bowman Burger! Cheers chef @will_bowman_ for these towering beauties & @tash_red + @msflmelrose for joining me as supervisors. Seriously best burger ever. #wagyu #cheeseburger #burger #burgers #burgerporn #food #realfood #Auckland #nz
Because Auckland is within a stone's throw of numerous farming regions (Pukekohe, Kerikeri and the Bay of Plenty), food miles are low and produce is always fresh and of the highest quality.
The cafe and restaurant scene is world class and has a strong focus on farm-to-table practices, using local, seasonal and sustainable produce. International culture magazine Monocle recently named CBD eatery Ortolana the 21st best restaurant in the world.
As for the coffee scene? Aucklanders love their morning brew and you won't find a better cup anywhere in the world.
Beautiful scenery at your doorstep
It's a well-known fact that New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and a lot of what this land has to offer is easily accessible from Auckland.
In the same time it would take you to get from George St to Hornsby, you can be well on your way up a one-lane road north to the incredibly beautiful Bay of Islands, or southwest to the dramatic Coromandel coastline. New Zealand's version of Byron Bay, Raglan, is less than a three-hour drive away.
By air, you can reach every other major city in the country in under two hours.
Auckland really does have everything you'd expect from a big city, with a small-city charm — something the ever-expanding Sydney appears to have lost.
When I miss my Aussie mates, a day out at Randwick Racecourse, a dip at Bronte or a hit at Moore Park, the great thing about Auckland is that Sydney is only a 2½-hour flight away — about half the duration of Sydney to Perth. Choice.