I really love Auckland, I was born here and some time, a long way out in the future I will die here too. Over the space of my lifetime I have a pretty positive feeling that I will witness the city make perhaps the biggest transformation it may ever experience and that is starting to happen right now. In many ways the city is coming of age, I feel we are right on the cusp of finally shedding the thought that it isn’t just an overgrown country town but it is actually a city. Being a real grown up city means not only acknowledging but embracing our urban form and actively working to continually improve it. The beginnings of this are already starting to occur, especially around the city centre where in less than a decade we have seen huge improvements through things like the street upgrades that begin recognise the importance that people, not cars have in the city. In fact there is an interesting change happening, for as long as I can remember Wellington was seen as not only the political capital of the country but also held the title as the urban capital of the nation. At least the latter now seems to be up for grabs as Urban Auckland is finally getting some love.

Urban Auckland is finally getting some love – Thanks for your photo Sydney

Of course the city has always had some outstanding natural beauty, there aren’t many cities in the world that the kind of natural features that we do which means that if we get the urban environment right we truly will be one of the greatest cities on the planet. Despite only really just dipping our toes into the waters when it comes to really improving the urban environment it seems the world is already taking notice. We regularly feature in the top 10 of various surveys on liveability, we have started winning international awards for things like our waterfront and we can now start to add tourism to the list.  Stuff reports:

Auckland has beaten-off stiff competition to take the title of Australasia’s top destination at the 2012 World Travel Awards.

The city of sails managed to fight-off the challenges of Sydney, Bora Bora, the Whitsunday Islands and Fiji’s Yasawa to take the award, which is regarded as one – if not the most –  prestigious in world travel.

It also marks the second time in three years that Auckland has taken the win in the category.

Speaking today, Auckland mayor Len Brown described the award as “a great Labour Weekend present” for the city.

Auckland will now go on to represent Australasia when the city competes at the World Travel Awards Grand Final in New Delhi on December 12.

It seems we are starting to see the end of the days when Auckland was just the place where the main airport was located and that you only stopped in the city on the way through to other parts of the country. To me the changes in our tourism fortunes have seemed to tie in pretty closely to the city becoming a more lively and interesting place in general. This is just another reason why it is so important that we keep improving the city through things like the City Centre Master Plan.

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  1. Yes that is good news and a little surprising we have beaten Sydney Whitsundays etc, Auckland is looking good and with the coming projects even better.Hopefully this result will give the council more ammunition for the funding of the crl by the central government and turn this city as an attractive
    worldwide destination

    1. Auckland could be a jewel of the south pacific. Such a unique geography/cultural background/population etc. And I have to say that one of the reasons I like living in Auckland so much is because the rest of NZ is so amazingly beautiful – Marlborough Sounds etc.

      As Matt notes, us Kiwis just need to learn to love our urban areas as much as we love our natural ones, albeit for different reasons.

  2. The city looked amazing today during the triathlon. There were so many people from all around the world along the course. I didn’t get to see the footage but I can only imagine how spectacular it must look. Every year Auckland seems to leap ahead.

    1. Awesome! I’m glad my hometown is slowly getting better and better. I sure hope by the time I decide to come back, I could take the train from the airport to the North Shore =P

      On an unrelated and very off-topic : Stu, how do you know Victoria Neilson? I used to work with her before I left NZ =)

      1. Arry – it’s a long and sordid story: Victoria and I first met in 2001 when we were both studying engineering at the University of Auckland. After we graduated we went our separate ways for a bit, before we re-joined forces on the Mighty River Power wind team. After a year or so there, I moved onto MRCagney and Victoria then went to F&P methinks.

        1. Aha I see.. Yea I was working with her at F&P before I decided to pack up and try something new on a different side of the world. She is a fantastic engineer and I really enjoyed working with her. We also had our occasional political conversation.. =P

          What I have learnt about Auckland since I have left is that Auckland is a very wonderful city with fantastic potential, I miss it dearly. This blog and the skyscraper forum are my two preferred methods to stay in touch with back home =)

  3. Auckland is improving for visitors, however for residents it still has miles to go yet. With around 1.5 million people it is a major centre globally, only twelve or so cities in Europe for example have bigger populations, but comparing to other cities shows a number of deficiencies. Hope that the city plan actual gets implemented before central government do any more damage! Have to say after living in Auckland, the quality of life elsewhere (warm housing, rapid transport, cycle lanes etc) is far superior!

    1. Actually there are about thirty cities in Europe larger than Auckland. But nevertheless, out population puts us about the same as the likes of Zurich, Munich, Vienna, Brussels and many other ‘real cities’.

      1. Actually, that depends on which definition/stats you use. Long way to go before a similar urban environment to the likes of Munich is present for residents.

        1. I was using urban area population, a better indicator than fairly arbitrary political boundaries (for example the ‘city’ of Zurich has 200k people, but the actual metropolis has about 1.5 million). Indeed Auckland has a long way to go before we have the sort of urban environments Europeans enjoy, but that just goes to show that it isn’t the population of a city that makes it a major centre or a ‘world city’ (or at least Auckland is large enough for that already if we can sort it out).

    2. Putting the issue of city size to one side, I do agree with you Dave on the priorities for making Auckland better: 1) warm dry compact housing 2) better public transport and 3) more cycle lanes – everywhere!

  4. I see a little slip by ‘Stuff’ in referring to Auckland as the ‘city of sails.’ Personally I prefer this concept of Auckland more than ‘the big little city.’ It’s a more dynamic image of the city and links well with the waterfront and viaduct. Anyway, go Auckland!

    1. I always though ‘Big Little City’ was very condescending, Auckland isn’t a little city pretending to be big, it is a big city struggling not to feel like a little one.

    1. Doesn’t the person in this video know that you have to give way to vehicles entering the Royal Oak roundabout* ? It’s a little-known rule that is valid for a handful of roundabouts only, including but not limited to the Panmure, Blockhouse Bay/Wolverton/Tiverton and Royal Oak roundabouts. These roundabouts won’t be around for long – the former two will be upgraded to a full intersection – so enjoy these circular confluences of lanefuls of brazen rule-flouting motorists while you can!

      But enough moaning now. This is about Auckland winning awards. Is there an ‘enthusing a growing number of people’ award? A ‘list of cities with more potential liveability than you can shake a gear stick at’? A ‘list of cities that can only be held back by their backward-thinking central government for so long, before spurting into urban adulthood?’ … No? There should be.

      * when not suicidal and/or willingly to arrive at your destination unscathed

    2. Brilliant! Pull out and drive slow – the bane of my life. Reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw in Miami: “When I retire I’m gonna move up north and drive slow”.

      The rider sure took his life in his hands – and that taxi driver took the idiot prize for sure, although plenty of close runners-up. All credit for including the cyclist red-light runners; relieved to know I’m not dreaming that.

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