Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Maybe you can beat Wellington on a good day?

In pointing out the obvious, that Wellington is losing businesses as they depart for places elsewhere (replacing businesses with politicians as one wag said) John Key has stirred up a Hurricane’s nest. Aggrieved Wellingtonians are springing up all over to argue Wellington is not dying.

Mind you, their refutations are not exactly strong—mayor Celia Wade-Brown, for example, in mentioning that only the other day she had met some Chinese students in her office was not really offering strong opposition.

Having visited recently to sample AFL and a fair proportion of hostelries along with my research team, I can say Wellington’s a fine city to visit—but having lived there once before, I can’t say I’d like to again. Mind you, there are things to love, and Colin Espiner's list of 10 reasons he loves Wellington is probably shared with most of his townies. Mind you, it’s also fairly provincial:

1. Better coffee. Wellington is powered by caffeine. And there’s none finer than in the capital. [Nope, on coffee elsewhere in the country. None at all.}

2. The Brooklyn windmill. Don’t scoff. [Too late] One of the first in the country and now a major tourist attraction. The views from the carpark are stunning.

3. The Bucket Fountain. You’ve got to love a town that keeps something so hideous and so broken that it’s become a city icon. [Gore has a fish. Wellington has a bucket fountain. Spot the difference.]

4. The Penthouse cinema. Arthouse cinema at its finest, complete with decent red wine and its own theatre cat. [If only other cities had arthouse cinemas…]

5. Westpac Stadium. Sorry Eden Park, but the Cake Tin is better in every respect. [Maybe. Okay.]

6. Public transport. Aucklanders haven’t heard of this, but it’s a fast, cheap, convenient and quick way to get to work. [What is this “public transport” thing you speak of?]

7. Sunshine and fresh air. OK, sometimes too much fresh air, but Welly clocks up many more sunshine hours than its northern sibling. [Maybe because the wind is always blowing the clouds away?]

8. Cuba Street. No other city in New Zealand does cool grunge like Wellington’s Cuba Street. Plus it’s home to Midnight Espresso, home of the finest nachos in the country. [Our research team decided Cuba St isn’t what it was.  And I reckon even in its day K Rd might give it a run.]

9. Wellington’s waterfront. Whereas Auckland and Christchurch have turned their backs on their ports, the capital’s is a living, breathing, human space. [Maybe…] And you can’t beat Oriental Parade in the sunshine. [Well, apart from Takapuna, Mission Bay, St Heliers, Cheltenham, Long Bay, Piha, Karekare … Shame too you’re not allowed to buy an ice cream or a beer along most of Oriential Bay.]

10. Houses you can actually afford to buy. Not much point in living somewhere if you can’t afford it. Wellington house prices are not cheap, but they’re not stupid either. [Um, I’m pretty sure Wellington house prices as a multiple of income are still score as “severely unaffordable” in world studies of these things. And Wellington housing standards are all too often, how can I say this politely, shoddy.]

It’s true you can’t beat Wellington on a good day. It’s also true however that the gaps between good days can be hellishly long.

Mind you, none of that makes up for it being a city minding everybody else’s business, infested with people sucking off the state tit.  Much like a bigger Grey Lynn.

Here’s my own top ten reasons to love Wellington:

  1. Live AFL twice a year
  2. Craft beer in every bar—even the seediest. (Yes, I checked.)
  3. The harbour—check it out on one of the two calm days in winter, with snow and the hills and the water glistening in the sun. Beautiful … for those two days.
  4. A genuinely urban downtown beautifully contained by its geography—a downtown that is not, however, what it was.
  5. Michael Fowler Centre—which with the demise of the Christchurch Town Hall, is now the single best place in the country to listen to live classical music.
  6. Live theatre—maybe there just seems like there’s more than Auckland has, but there is, right?
  7. ….

Can you finish it off for me?


  1. The sunshine claim is not true, Auckland has more:

  2. Finishing off the list....

    * Compactness. Almost every type of shop you need can be found between Lambton Quay and Courtenay Place.

    * Short travel times. I often get cabs (not owning a car), and I can get from home (Karori) to work in 15 minutes, easily. Try doing that in Auckland.

    * Friendly and intelligent workmates.
    IIRC, Wellington (Karori in particular) has the most highly-educated people in the country. I don't think Auckland can compete there either.

    * GREAT food, excellent restaurants.
    Really good home-delivered food too (from the places I've tried).

    * More parks and green spaces than you can count.

    * Refreshing, bracing weather. No, really - given the choice between Auckland's stifling humidity in summer and Wellington, I'll go for the capital any day. As for the winters, they make you feel even *more* cosy when you're inside with the heater going.

    There - that's a decent bit of a list on its own..... :)

    You would have to at least DOUBLE my salary to get me to move to Auckland, and even then I wouldn't be happy about it.
    It's "SPRAWL city" (as opposed to the wonderfully-compact nature of the capital).

  3. Oh, I forgot -

    * Very reasonable house prices. You can still get a good 3br house in Karori for $350-400K.
    In Auckland, that'll buy you either a dolls-house in a good suburb or a dog-kennel with the Mongrel Mob next door in a bad suburb.

    * The Stagecoach Flyer bus to and from the airport. IIRC, $5 or so to get to the airport in about 30 min from downtown.

    * The airport itself.
    I'm doing more and more flying, and the airport now has some **excellent** food outlets along with other facilities (e.g. bookstores).

  4. The bogans have largely been pushed to the Hutt.

    Landing at Wellington airport in rough weather is a thrill seekers' experience

    It doesn't have a single all powerful unitary authority with a wacky Mayor

  5. Vineyards in Martinborough and Marlborough accessible in 1.5 and 3.5 hours respectively.

    The least worst daily newspaper in NZ.

    Major dam conveniently located to wipe out Parliament when there is a major earthquake

  6. @LibertyScott: You're starting to get into this, aren't you. Sounds like time to come home. :^)

  7. How about "It might get hit by an earthquake one day"?

  8. meh, no.

    Has disproportionate numbers of Green supporters.

    Earthquake prone.

    Bugger all business of any scale.

    Full of anally retentive political correct easily offended control freaks.

  9. Wellington is doomed because that it is the place where government is centred. Apart from that key disadvantage, the list of try-hard reasons for living there are less than trivia. That damns the place even more than twice over and over another time again. Even by NZ standards the palce is full of sub-normal people and sub-normal housing. By Australian standards it is sub-sub-normal bordering on a deliveranceville of moron zombies.



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