So, you’re considering making a move in the future to New Zealand’s largest city and the third most liveable city in the world for expats – but where in this diverse city would you call home?
Take a moment to imagine what your future life might look like in north Auckland or west Auckland. From black sand beaches to the buzz of sophisticated bars, what makes north and west Auckland stand out from the crowd?
From surfing at Orewa Beach to the art galleries of Devonport or fine dining restaurants by the sea, the North Shore as it’s known is perhaps one of Auckland’s most desirable locales, combining well-established urban areas with pockets of native bush, golden beaches, and thriving café culture.
The North Shore is a haven for tech startups and has a booming construction industry, so there’s no shortage of opportunity for hard workers in this part of the city. According to a 2018 TIN Report, 40 of the top 200 fastest growing tech businesses are in the North Shore; it’s also the second highest region in New Zealand for the number of tech businesses (in terms of numbers, not per capita).
Whether you’re travelling to work or want to get around without a private car, then you might take advantage of Auckland’s well-developed public transport network and use a pre-loaded AT HOP card to get on one of the regular buses, trains or ferries. All of north Auckland – and west, as we’ll explore in the next section – is easily seen within an hour’s public transport journey, or a half-hour by car outside of rush hour.
Public transport remains one of the most popular ways to get around Auckland. New Zealand commuters pay around $12,000 per year in car ownership and running costs, while leaving the car at home can save $2200 a year, including the approximately $1000 in parking costs. It’s little wonder that workers and students alike take 5-10 million trips each month on Auckland’s diverse public transport network.
North Auckland’s bus network forms a long chain from the Hibiscus Coast near Orewa to Lower Albert Street in the city centre, but if you’re closer to Devonport then why not take the Downtown Ferry across the bay and get a great view of the Auckland skyline.
Kiwis love their coffee and cafés, so it’s easy to grab breakfast or lunch (or brunch!) within walking distance of any office. Wherever you’re located, you’ll be able to duck down the road and enjoy anything from classics like eggs benedict or a Kiwi meat pie to a trendy take on dumplings or woodfired pizza. Whether it’s for a quick break, a business lunch, or a drink after work, there are plenty of places to please the palate and meet the locals.
If it’s the weekend and you’d like to see the sights, then the North Shore has plenty and all within a short drive or bus ride. Takapuna boasts a shopping centre and busy streets between the freshwater Lake Pupuke, the Takapuna Beach Reserve Playground, and Takapuna Beach itself. A local favourite is the historical ‘lava’ trail along its foreshore, with views across to the Rangitoto Island Scenic Reserve.
Further down the bay is Devonport, Auckland’s ‘Victorian lady by the sea’. With its string of 19th Century shop fronts, boutique shops, art galleries and a well-stocked library, it’s easy to while away a day in this seaside village. Grab some fish and chips and take the 15-minute walk up Mount Victoria for a picnic with 360-degree views of Auckland and the Waitemata Harbour.
Further north and the suburb of Albany (pronounced with a short “A”, like “Albert”) boasts Massey University. If you like your sports then be sure to catch a game of rugby or soccer at the North Harbour Stadium, or for a splash head to Albany Stadium Pool with climbing walls and water cannons for the kids – and a huge spa and a sauna for the grown-ups.
Whether you’re discovering a different market every weekend or exploring a new beach, north Auckland is a great place to live.
West Auckland’s rugged hills and black sand beaches aren’t the only reason people love to call it home. There’s also a great sense of community spirit that binds the diverse people and a cultural identity that makes those living on this side of the city describe themselves as “Westies”.
Depending on your job, you might be in one of the many popular coworking spaces around the city, which are also a great opportunity to share stories or grab a bite with some fellow Aucklanders. Among these shared spaces, Hobsonville Point in west Auckland boasts The Hangar – a former Royal New Zealand Air Force hangar - which offers a variety of spaces for the modern professional set alongside boutique shops and premium eateries.
West Auckland is also home to New Zealand’s diverse and prosperous film industry, with production facilities wowing audiences across the globe with expert production, art, VFX, and animation specialists. Henderson in west Auckland alone features multiple studios including Auckland Film Studios (The Meg, Mr Pip, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and South Pacific Pictures (Yogi Bear, Avalon High, The Disney Channel/Saban’s Power Rangers series).
Henderson is being reimagined as a flourishing urban eco-centre with sustainability woven into every aspect of life. Adding to Auckland’s list of construction projects, there are architecturally designed housing developments taking place, adding to this thriving hub just 13km from central Auckland. With your AT Hop card, the Western Line of the rail network will take you to Henderson’s doorstep via New Lynn in an hour. Meanwhile, ongoing development in Hobsonville is seeing new houses, schools, and shopping facilities going up at record rates.
Like north Auckland, there are plenty of places to grab a bite or a drink. If you like your craft beers, then a visit to the Hallertau Brewery and Biergarten is a must. The restaurant favours natural flavours and fresh produce – and plenty of aromatic, hoppy brews to quench a thirst. Learn about the local brewing process and look forward to some Kiwi hospitality.
West Auckland is famous for its relaxed vibe, so look out for modern takes on the classic greasy spoon fare. You’ll be able to get your fill on a classic Kiwi feed (think bacon, sausage, roasted tomatoes, fried potatoes, toast, and eggs any way you like), or contemporary versions of muesli with fresh yoghurt and local produce to please a lighter palate.
Weekends are a great chance to explore. Until recently, the Waitākere Ranges have been a major feature of any west Auckland day out. The stunning 39,500 of pristine native bush has scenic waterfalls and over 250km of walking tracks, yet is only a 40-minute drive from the city centre. Kiwis are passionate about respecting New Zealand’s unique natural environment, so to protect our native giants from kauri dieback disease, many of the ranges are currently closed. You can still check out the tracks outside the closed forested area or any controlled area away from kauri (check the Auckland Council website for more info).
Beyond the Waitākere ranges, you’ll find the famous Piha Beach, where tourists and locals alike flock each summer to enjoy its strong surf, black sand and rugged scenery.
If you need a break from the strong waves, then make your way north to Lake Wainamu for a peaceful and scenic day out. If you’re keen to walk around, then allow 1.5 hours – keep heading north and you’ll reach the Muriwai Regional Park set against a windswept and rugged coastline. It’s one of the few mainland gannet (tākapu) breeding colonies in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Around 1200 gannet pairs nest here from August to March every year.
The north and west of Auckland bring their own unique flavour to life outside central Auckland. Auckland really has it all – bright beaches, weekly markets, booming construction and tech industries, flexible workspaces, sacred native forests, and lively bars and restaurants to please the whole family.
Like the rest of the world, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is adjusting to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Our borders currently remain closed to anyone other than a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, those travelling from quarantine-free travel zones, or those granted a special exemption. Please visit our COVID-19 update for visitors and Aucklanders for the latest information.