I’ve spent the last 2 years working and travelling around Australia. Like most travellers who’s working holiday visas have expired I decided to move onto New Zealand for 2015. Here is a round up of the last 4 months, which I have spent in Auckland, New Zealand. I want to clarify that my opinion only applies to the North Island as I have not been to the south island yet.
Just like Australia – I’m here on a one year, working holiday visa that I applied for online in Brisbane (I’m English). I arrived on New years Eve and unfortunately spent the night in the drunk tank (bit of a shaky start to say the least).
Luckily I moved straight into a big share-house in Green Lane which is about 6km from the Auckland CBD – perfect if you’re a commuter cyclist like me ( I took my bike with me from Australia as stow away luggage with Quantas who offered a massive 30kg luggage quota).
Rent here is about the same as Brisbane ($170 a week) but if you go nearer to the CBD it’s more like Sydney (around $300) a week.
With high rent and also expensive food prices it is very hard to work basic service level jobs in Auckland and still have the ability to save up money for forward travel. This is because (and although the economy is good with the NZD strong) there is a huge disparity in range of income vs cost of living here. There are a lot of wealthy people in Auckland who earn a fortune, but if you are a traveller looking to sustain yourself on service level jobs (hosbo, construction, temp office work) You’ll be in for a shock (compared with Aus) because the wages for these types of backpacker jobs are between $14.50 and $18.00. This makes it a lot harder to save up money for travel, plus fuel and transport costs here are also high.
I don’t want to sound totally negative – it’s not all bad, New Zealand has outstanding natural beauty and the biodiversity that you find just by going 30 minutes outside of Auckland is unbelievable!
MY BEST ADVICE: SAVE UP MONEY BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN NEW ZEALAND, DON’T WASTE TIME AND BUDGET IN AUCKLAND – BUY A VEHICLE STRAIGHT AWAY AND GET OUT OF AUCKLAND, GET RURAL AND GET STUCK INTO SEEING THE AMAZING NATURAL BEAUTY.
This way you are only spending your coin on the parts of New Zealand that matter and that is everything outside of Auckland central. There are good hostels dotted all over the country and buying a vehicle is easy, fast and good value. For between $1000 and $3000 (NZD) you can purchase a small van / wagon that will get you around the whole country. Check out the Ellerslie Race Track cars event every Sunday which is full of backpacker buses that people are selling cheap and also look on Trademe.co.nz and Ebay.com.au.
Gumtree has been discontinued here because of the popularity of Trademe. I am not a big fan of Trademe but it does ok alternative to the Gumtree convenience we are used too in Aus and UK.
Don’t be fooled – it’s not the same as Australia
When I was in Brisbane I asked my good friend from Christchurch what New Zealand was like. His reply “Everything is just that little bit shitter than Australia”. If we are talking about everything that isn’t natural beauty. mountains, waterfalls, beaches – (everything tied to the economy) then I think I have to agree. The public transport in Auckland is very good as are the roads but the buildings, pavements and public areas just don’t have the same sheen as you would find in any big Australian city.
Auckland reminds me of any big, dirty city in England – Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester, even aspects of Great Yarmouth..
There isn’t as much convenience here and the range of consumer goods and services hasn’t yet reached the level of its bigger brother across the pond.
As always, my opinion comes from the convenience of survival – how I can meet my basic human needs whilst sustaining my travel time, and saving up fund for the next adventure.
I’ve found myself going to new extremes of frugality to survive in New Zealand which you can read more about here.
An aspect of New Zealand i find very interesting is the multi-cultural diversity. You have the New Zealanders of European decent (Pākehā), the Maoris, the Islanders, the Asians, the Indians and many other ethnic groups colocating and living together with mutual respect.
Although inner city Auckland looks a lot like England (infrastructure-wise) there is certainly a much more tolerant level of multicultural integration here than there is in the UK. You don’t get the same level of self-entitlement from the Anglo-Brits that you do back home, nor the alcohol fuelled consumption and binge-drinking culture that is prevalent and encouraged in the UK. I think this is because the range and access to wealth transcends all races here and it’s not just the landed gentry that control the strings and power from Ivory Towers and Citadels of old.
One thing Auckland does really really well!
These are big opinions from the small amount of time I have been here but that is just how it feels. One benefit of being in Auckland is that it has the best (and cheapest) access to the Pacific Islands in the world. Tomorrow I fly to Raratonga the largest Isle of the Cook Islands, where I will stay for a week. This cost less than $900 NZD and hopefully will provide me with the recharge that I deserve to help me gain a fresh perspective on the rest of New Zealand that I am yet to experience.
I hope I come back with a new energy and sense of wanting to adventure in New Zealand as there is still a lot to see and do.