Auckland consistently ranks highly in lists of the world's best cities but is never number one. So what would it take to turn Auckland into a first-class city? This week the Herald begins a 10-day series examining some of the biggest hurdles Auckland faces, from housing and transport to entertainment and education. We look at what we are doing, what we need to do, and why Auckland's success matters to the rest of the country. In part four of the series we look at recreation.
Heading out for a big night? Then you might want to save up for it.
As part of the Herald's series into Auckland issues, we've looked at how affordable entertainment is in the city.
While there are always free events and activities on offer, it's not cheap for those wanting to enjoy a concert, sports match, or just take the family on an outing.
Many people we've spoken to say such an outing is now considered a special event due to the cost of the tickets and entry fees, especially all the extras that they often come with - such as a meal, transport or parking.
Destiny Swanson said it was expensive wherever she went. "It's expensive where ever you go...it's best to save up for the holidays."
According to the Monocle Quality of Life Survey 2015 Auckland was one or the more expensive places to eat out, averaging 26 euros for a good lunch in the city, compared to Tokyo's 7.50 euros, Vienna's 15 euros. Sydney was 25 euros.
Hospitality NZ's Auckland Branch President Kevin Schwass said Sydney tended to be a dollar or two cheaper, when it came to food and drinks.
"I think we are overpriced. In Sydney for the same quality, pricing-wise, the food was a couple of dollars cheaper."
But he said we simply didn't have the foot traffic and the cost of renting here was high.
"By the time you have done the fit out and pay the wages...you've still got to make some money."
However, he said Aucklanders were spoilt for choice of cheap eats and good quality eats in the various food precincts.
Barbara Taani, who has three children, said it usually cost between $70 and $100 just for her and her husband to enjoy dinner and movie.
"There are a few places that you can buy slightly cheaper movie tickets, I guess it varies due to what type of dinner your having or if your going to buy popcorn and a drink from the cinema - I can remember the last time I brought popcorn and a drink from the cinema only because prices have skyrocketed.
She said a Saturday out with the kids would cost anywhere between $100-$150
"Everything is so expensive now day compared to how it use to be, parks are becoming somewhat more popular now because Auckland family attractions are far too expensive."
Many event organisers and promoters the Weekend Herald spoke to acknowledged things were on the pricey side, but said it was the reality given the city had fewer events than other larger cities, had fewer foot traffic to such events and was so isolated from the rest of the world.
While it was slightly more expensive they did however believe there was a market for the events.
New Zealand Rugby marketing manager, Todd Barberel, believed given this weekend's test match sold out so quickly they were good value for money.
"There was an 11,000 waiting list after the initial release of public tickets sold out. This suggested fans considered the tickets to be affordable and value for money to see the All Blacks for the only time in Auckland this year."
Case study: A family day out
Like most kids, Auckland toddler Sophia Simich loves going to the Zoo.
The two-year-old loves to explore so it's the perfect outing.
But, if it wasn't for an annual family pass, her mother Jodie Simich says it's unlikely she'd be able go as it's just too expensive.
"I generally prefer to take her to free events or places with no admission fees, although occasionally we do splurge."
One recent "splurge" included ice extravaganza, Disney on Ice, $47 per ticket and Mrs Simich also planned to go to Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium. For a family of two adults and two children the entrance cost $66 when booking online. It was $90 if you just walked in off the street.
Fortunately for Sophia, a family member had gifted them an annual pass to the Zoo, so this was one luxury the little tot has been able to take advantage of.
Without it the cost of the zoo for her, her husband Andrew and Sophia was close to $70.
"We've used it four times this year and counting."
But even with the pass, the trip wasn't completely free, as often there'd be the extras like a cup of coffee ($4.30), for mum and dad, lunch ($20- $30) and Sophia's favourite treat - an icecream ($2.50).
Beyond the zoo Mrs Simich preferred to make the most of Auckland's ample parks and kid-friendly places, like Cornwall Park.
There were also the local library and a Plunket centre offering playgroups, dance and music for kids for a $3 to $5 donation.
Mrs Simich said a typical family day out included brunch at a local café, a family friendly movie, a walk at the park or a swim at the local pool.
Going to a movie with food and drinks cost around $40 and a family lunch was in the realm of $50.
"They do add up quite a bit, but that's why we don't often go to places where we pay an admission fee," she said.
The cost of heading out
For the rugby fans
Tickets priced from $75 - $175 to the All Blacks vs Australia Bledisloe Cup game.
Cost of heading to the game by bus or train is included in the price of the game ticket.
Taxi fares can range from around $15 to over $60 depending on where you are coming from.
For a pre-game meal there are ample choices around Kingsland and Sandringham.
The cost of a main, side and drink per person ranges from $20.50 from Thai Restaurant @ Bangkok, $30.50 at Papa's Pizza or $29.50 for some pub grub at the Kingslander.
A night in the city
The cost of heading into the city from out of town ranges from 0.50 on the City's inner-link bus to a maximum of $10.50 on the bus or train. The cost of taxi is anywhere in the range of $15 to over $60 if you come from the outer suburbs. Parking ranges from $5 to around $15.
For a pre-show meal at the Q Theatre including a meal, a side and a drink could cost around $39 per person.
A family day at the Zoo
Tickets are $28 for an adult, $12 for a child (4 - 14), $47 for one adult and two kids and $72 for two adults and two kids.
There's free parking on site.
Meals at one of the various cafes on site can range from $4.50 for a toasted sandwich to $24 for a family size pizza.