A holiday in Auckland has forced me to admit the city of sails has got something over the coolest little capital.
Don't get me wrong, there's a lot about Wellington I love.
But one can't ignore the progress that has been made in Auckland to prioritise people over cars on its city streets.
It's ironic because Wellington brands itself as the compact city that can easily be explored on foot.
I spent a night in Auckland over the summer break after a holiday on Waiheke Island. We had an almond croissant at Amano, visited the Mary Quant exhibition, and had lunch at Le Chef.
The number of shared spaces struck me, the fact we could eat outside in a laneway made me pine for Europe – there was a sense of placemaking.
The waterfront had more of a scene, Commercial Bay was humming, and new public transport infrastructure was actually being built. The experience exemplified the changes Auckland has been making while Wellington has rested on its laurels.
In the past, Melbourne has been described as Wellington on steroids. The two cities have often been compared for their artsy, quirky, liveable qualities. It's not really a convincing comparison any more.
Melbourne is known for its laneways and Wellington City Council does actually have a laneways strategy to connect pedestrians to shorter and more attractive routes.
The council's website says these laneway projects are "part of a bigger plan to transform the city centre into a walkable capital". The city is not as walkable as we like to think it is.
Work begins this month to upgrade Swan Ln and Garrett St, which will include new lighting, seating, bike racks, artwork, and raised pedestrian crossings.
It's going to be fabulous, but it's a shame it took so long. This project began in 2018 when a public survey was undertaken.
Eva and Leeds Sts are the city's biggest laneway success story surrounded by apartments, craft beer bars, the Wellington Chocolate Factory, and eateries.
Unfortunately, the Egmont St laneway still feels like you're inches from being run over if you sit out on the pavement with a cup of coffee.
Meanwhile, Auckland has already started making changes to its Golden Mile - Queen St.
The final stage of Auckland Council's $1.1 million Queen St pedestrian "makeover" to reduce the four-lane CBD thoroughfare to two lanes will begin this month. Wooden boarding and pot-plants will decorate much of the street.
The $1.1m trial design came after a settlement with aggrieved landlords and businesses who challenged the initial plastic pedestrianisation barriers in an April 2021 High Court action.
Wellington, on the other hand, has done a lot of talking about what to do with Lambton Quay, but not a lot of doing.
A decision has been reached to remove private vehicles from the stretch of road and through to Courtenay Place.
Unfortunately for this project, it's tied up with the billion-dollar Let's Get Wellington Moving transport plan, which doesn't exactly have a reputation for moving quickly.
On this subject people get boiled down to being pro-car or anti-car, a raging leftie or unprogressive, supportive of businesses or against them.
You can feel the judgment coming when someone asks whether you're supportive of cars being pulled off Wellington's Golden Mile.
None of this is helpful if Wellington genuinely wants to catch up with other cities in the world, or the country for that matter.
Personally, I own a car and I avoid driving down Lambton Quay, Courtenay Place, and Manners St. They're not an efficient route through town - the waterfront quays are.
I usually catch the bus to work and I prefer taking public transport into the city on the weekend because circling for a car park for half an hour drives me mad.
I buy the most items when I am meandering through town, not when I'm working against the clock of a parking meter.
The underlying assumption that businesses want car parks outside their premises for vehicles needs to change.
Obviously some businesses absolutely value and will fight to protect their car parks. That's fine.
But Wellington City Council officials reported last week that there were also businesses who have approached them about turning the car parks outside their premises into an extra outdoor dining space.
One group in the capital is taking over car parks to have picnics in them. They pay for the park and buy their lunch from nearby cafes.
It shouldn't be that offensive if people want to use car parks for something other than their traditional purpose.
It's understandable that redistribution of this space is being considered a matter of fairness.
Cars monopolise the road through the lanes they are driven on and the lanes they are stored on (car parks).
Wellington isn't a lost cause, but it has lost its way in recent years and it's trying to make up for some of that wasted time now.
That doesn't make it any easier admitting that Auckland has got something over Wellington.
• Senior Wellington journalist Georgina Campbell's fortnightly column looks closely at issues in the capital.