15 things no one told me about living in Auckland
Auckland. Or as my dad calls it, "Dorkland".
I knew it was a big place, but I never knew how behemoth it truly was until I moved here five months ago.
Having grown up in the King Country township of Te Kuiti, where there's only one round-about and people riding horses around town still exist, I knew I was in for a shock.
My only previous experience of the big smoke was when I based myself in Hamilton for seven years before I moved to Tauranga for my first job in journalism last year.
But my time in these two regional cities couldn't prepare me, and no one ever told me, what the bittersweet taste of Auckland big-city-life is like. These are my 15 things no one told me about living in Auckland.
READ MORE: '15 things no one told me about living in New Zealand'
1. Auckland is A LOT bigger than I anticipated
Sure, I'd spent a bit of time in Auckland now and again, but nothing longer than a couple of days at best as I convinced myself the motorway might swallow me up or a wrong turn could see me gone for weeks. And for the first month of calling Auckland home, I was certain that was the case.
It's not just Auckland. There's south Auckland, east Auckland, West Auckland, Auckland City, North Shore and then some. Then amongst those regions are districts and A LOT of suburbs you wouldn't know of until a job in journalism sent you out there. Google maps is your best friend.
2. Everyone pays with eftpos (Paywave is the way of the future)
Very rarely do I see people paying with cash instead of swiping the fantastic plastic. And even then, the five seconds of swiping your card and dialling in your details has become a drag. Paywave now seems to be the way of the future, fixing up a bill with just a simple surface tap of your card. I now find myself getting surprisingly disappointed (snob) when Paywave option isn't available.
3. Everything is A LOT more expensive
Much like the property bubble, everything is more expensive here than back home. I knew rent would be ridiculous but I didn't expect the staggering cost of $900+ per week for a standard to moderate four bedroom home was considered the norm. I noticed groceries are 40 to 50 cents more expensive almost everywhere and a flat white could pass $5 in some places.
4. Crime is a real thing
Long gone are the days of comfortably leaving my bedroom window open at night. Perhaps it's my job which highlights crime on a day-to-day basis. But five months in and the reality of someone breaking into my flat or nicking off with my car is a lot more real here. We're not in Kansas anymore.
5. Running red lights is a real thing
People running red lights baffles me. The first time I spotted an impatient driver ignore traffic lights almost ended in a smooth 50km T-bone. Why risk it? It is an Auckland phenomenon you need to be aware of every time you drive.
6. Activewear is a real thing
People sporting activewear on a casual basis is almost like an unspoken sub genre. One time I spotted at least 10-15 people in Ponsonby Central loitering in their activewear. Why not go home and change after a workout session? I appreciate workout gear is comfy and whatnot, but is it that important you must don your workout kit far from the place of workout?
7. The food here is fantastic
The food here is dangerously good. Prices are to be expected, but the hundreds of options of different cuisines and dishes are insane. Keen for a simple Thai take out? Take your pick. Hungry but can't decide? Have a quick look through Ponsonby Central. Looking to wine and dine? Downtown is your place. I've been impressed with almost every restaurant I've been to so far. Forget the reviews, it's fun to try new places for yourself.
8. The coffee is to die for
My craving for coffee has escalated very quickly, but how can it not when there is superb and wholesome caffeine here to be had. Certain places vary in prices from standard to ridiculous. But the most important thing is that I've found my local coffee pot across the road from work and I'm in love.
9. Supermarkets and shopping malls are a mission - go at your own peril
In some places, there's no such thing as just whipping down to the shops to pick up a milk. At the wrong place at the wrong time a five minute nip down to the dairy could end in mild traffic or a massive loop around the block to get home.
No one told me there's traffic and traffic wardens in parking buildings around the holiday season. No one told me when a shopping mall gets busy, you get your running shoes on, don't step on people's toes and get out as fast as you can. It's cold out there and I've learned the hard way.
10. There is always something to see or do
Exciting little markets. Open air cinemas. Gigs. Shows. Beaches. Waterfalls. Walking tracks. The list continues. There is always something to see or do here.
In the Waikato, the moans of, "There's nothing to do", echo far and wide. Sure, it has certain attractions or events, but there seems to be hardly anything new or fresh in comparison to Auckland where there's almost a weekly cycle of new or exciting things. If there's a festival or a public celebration, best believe Auckland will tell you about it.
11. More acceptance of diversity
Like I said above, Auckland is a big place. Its population was estimated at 1.42 million in 2014, which reflects the vast amount of different cultures that flourish in the Big Smoke. My background and childhood had little diversity, that's just how it went. So coming to Auckland was a culture shock but a shock that I appreciated. The colours and flavours of diversity boom here - and it's great.
12. Guys, girls, mainly guys, appear to dress the same
Seems to me the same guy with the same hairstyle; shaved on the sides, man-bun on top, sporting a beard and pants that cut just above the ankle with no socks on, shows up everywhere. The same for the guy who wears a light blue collared shirt with a white tee underneath - he's everywhere as well. And the girl with long hair, rocking high waist pants and a stripped crop trop is around nearly every corner.
13. Traffic is a nightmare
I definitely knew Auckland traffic was bad, but I didn't realise how bad it was until I purposely put myself in morning traffic on the northern motorway and crawled along at an average of 8kmh for more than half an hour. What I didn't know is the amount of mental preparation I needed to muster before I crawl along the motorway.
In saying that, when traffic moves - it moves fast. Much like my patience.
14. Parking is even worse
Once again, I knew parking was hectic but I had no idea it was as bad as it is. All them cars gotta go somewhere. If you can avoid parking in the city - avoid it at all costs. If you're lucky enough to find a spot - be ready to shell out for a minimum 30 minute stay or walk a mile to get to your destination.
15. Not everyone is as friendly as back home
A friendly 'Hello' from a store clerk with a greeting smile seems few and far between. If you need assistance in a store, say, people are quick to palm you off to someone else. Sure, in my experience, no one has been outright rude but not everyone is as welcoming or helpful like people in small, humble townships.
Manners go a long way and don't cost a thing, my daddy always said.