Wellingtonians are earning tens of thousands of dollars more than Aucklanders in most professions - but highly paid Queen City bankers are skewing the trend.
The difference was up to $70,000 a year for one senior finance position, figures analysed by the Weekend Herald show.
But overall, workers in the capital came out on top in accounting, finance, banking, human resources, information technology and sales and marketing.
The global Robert Walters Salary Survey 2012 looked at last year's salaries and made predictions for this year for more than 120 positions - including permanent, interim and contract work - in the country's two biggest cities. Of the 106 comparable positions, Aucklanders earned more in just 21.
Employment experts said reasons for the divide included Government workers - the majority based in Wellington - being "more loyal" than those in the private sector which meant they had more pay rises.
In the accounting and finance and banking and financial services sectors, a commercial manager can earn up to $70,000 more in Auckland while a financial controller can earn $40,000 extra. Several New Zealand banks' head offices are in Auckland, including BNZ, ASB and HSBC.
In sales and marketing, a communications manager in Wellington can expect up to $40,000 more than an Aucklander while human resources consultants may see up to $50,000 more in their pay cheque.
A manager in IT can command up to $30,000 more in Wellington than someone in the same job in Auckland.
Secretarial and business support workers earned similar wages in the two cities.
The managing director of recruiting company Hays, Jason Walker, who is in Auckland, said more companies' head offices with their highly paid executives were based in Wellington to be close to the Government departments they serviced.
Those in the civil service tended to stay in their jobs longer.
"In Auckland there's a lot more immigration, there's a lot more transient workforce than we see in the Wellington region," Mr Walker said.
"The majority of work down there is Government. Government employees tend to be a lot more loyal than the private sector.
"In terms of tenure, you might have somebody on a significantly higher package than they might be if they moved into a similar type of role for the first time."
Wellington-based senior consultant Daina Edmonds of Kinetic Recruitment, which has offices in both cities, put the differences down to the recent merging of Government departments in Wellington.
The moves had seen several contractors hired during the transition, she said.
"Like with most contractors, you can typically get a higher salary for a shorter period of time."
Tale of two cities: Where to get the best pay packet
Accounting and finance
* Financial controller - Auckland $120,000-$200,000, Wellington $120,000 - $170,000
* Commercial manager - Auckland $110,000-$200,000, Wellington $100,000-$130,000
* Tax accountant - Auckland $80,000-100,000, Wellington $100,000-$140,000
* Auditor - Auckland $50,000-$65,000, Wellington $60,000-$85,000
Banking and financial services
* Financial controller (6+ years experience) - Auckland $120,000-$180,000, Wellington $90,000-$140,000
* Product controller - Auckland $85,000-$130,000, Wellington $90,000-$140,000
* Fund administrator - Auckland $40,000-$55,000, Wellington $50,000-$60,000
Sales and marketing
* National sales manager - Auckland $120,000-$150,000, Wellington $110,000-$180,000
* Business development manager - Auckland $80,000-$110,000, Wellington $60-$150,000
* Communications manager - Auckland $90,000-$110,000, Wellington $80,000-$150,000
* Marketing manager - Auckland $100,000-$130,000, Wellington $85,000-$150,000
* Project manager (5+years experience) Auckland $110,000-$125,000, Wellington $100,000-$140,000
* Manager IT operations - Auckland $100,000-$120,000, Wellington $120,000-$150,000
* Help desk/desktop support/apps support (3-5 years experience) - Auckland $55,000-$65,000, Wellington $55,000-$80,000
* HR manager - Auckland $90,000-$150,000, Wellington $110,000-$175,000
* Recruitment manager- Auckland $80,000-$120,000, Wellington $95,000-$130,000
* HR consultant - Auckland $70,000-$100,000, Wellington $85,000-$150,000
* HR advisor - Auckland $60,000-$85,000, Wellington $70,000-$110,000
Secretarial and business support
* Executive assistant - Auckland, $55,000-$90,000, Wellington $60,000-$85,000
* Office manager - Auckland $48,000-$75,000, Wellington $55,000-$80,000
* Receptionist - Auckland $31,000-42,000, Wellington $31,000-$45,000
Check the survey:By Alanah Eriksen @AlanahEriksen Email Alanah