Making the wrong decision about where to settle can be a very expensive mistake. The difference in both weather and lifestyle can be quite marked and serious thought beforehand could save a lot of wasted money and upheaval.
New Zealand is separated into two islands known as the North and South Islands. Auckland is towards the top of the North Island and Wellington at the bottom. Christchurch is towards the top of the South Island and Dunedin is midway down the South Island.
It is difficult to imagine a country with only a few main centres with miles of empty countryside in between, but study your map carefully and you will see that is the case here. The four main cities I have listed below hold over 50% of the total population of New Zealand.
Auckland has a population approaching 1 million. The suburbs sprawl for miles and miles. If you work in the city centre, then depending on where you choose to live, you could face quite a drive each day, with the resulting traffic jams. There is much talk of multi million dollar plans to provide an efficient transport system for Auckland, but nothing exists at the moment.
There are some beautiful homes here overlooking the sea, but only for those who can afford them. It is not called the city of sails without reason, as sailing is the main recreation.
The central part of the city is very modern, with tall glass buildings and the Auckland Harbour Bridge which spans the Waitemata Harbour is a magnificent sight, if somewhat daunting to drive across for the first time, with its eight lanes.
Auckland is very cosmopolitan and people are mostly friendly, although the shop assistants have acquired the American habit of “hoping you have a nice day”. Being a warmer climate it attracts a lot of the Polynesian immigrants. Samoans and the Cook Islanders enjoy automatic right of entry to New Zealand.
It is a lively place, with the high rainfall being its best kept secret. Like all big cities there are places you would choose to live and others you would be best to avoid.
Wellington with its population of around 350,000 is the capital and this is where the Government buildings are and is the country’s major administrative centre. The home of many Diplomats it has an International air and high rise office buildings give it the most modern skyline in New Zealand.
The terraced houses built in the hillside look down on the harbour and people have likened it to San Fransisco. It is the only city in New Zealand to run a commuter train service and likes to think of itself as the cultural centre of the country, although this is often strongly disputed.
As a result of Wellington being sited directly on a faultline there is more of a threat of earthquake. The ever present wind has resulted in a lot of the shopping malls being opened underground.