Auckland In Top 10 Most Liveable Cities

July 15, 2021
Iain MacLeod

Auckland has long harboured a desire to become the ‘world’s most liveable city’.

It has taken another major step on that path by being ranked at number 8, up from 9 last year out of 140 cities surveyed.

In this year’s Economist Intelligence Unit Survey Auckland has pushed Sydney out of the top 10 (always love pushing those cocky Aussies further down the ladder). I’ll take it on the chin however that Melbourne (home to half my colleagues) has held on to its top spot at Number 1. It galls me somewhat to say it but it is a pretty cool place. A bigger Auckland with fewer carparks but in feel, attitude and culture quite similar.

The survey ranks cities for stability, healthcare, environment, access to education, infrastructure and culture.

I know I am a bit biased but I can see how Auckland rates in the top ten and a number of Australian cities also feature.

The threat of terrorism across Europe has seen some of their cities slide in the rankings.

Auckland has gone through some real growing pains as migration has surged in recent years and it has brought problems – more congested freeways, higher cost of living principally through ludicrously high (by our standards) house prices. I’d almost expect it would have pulled us down the rankings but it hasn’t.

I have long questioned what the ideal sized city is and I think it is something between 1.5 – 2 million people. Small enough to still be, well, liveable, relatively easy to get around yet big enough to enjoy the cultural and economies of scale that come with more people. I consider, for example, how until 15 years ago we’d be hanging out for major music artists to visit us and they came infrequently. These days in Auckland hardly a week will pass without some big act in town performing at one of our local 15,000 seat stadiums.

Professional sport now has the financial base to grow and prosper.

Increasingly a global IT hub, Auckland also has a multi billion dollar film, commercial and TV production industry to add to its tourism.

Income taxes flowing to Government has seen major improvements and expansion in infrastructure, in particular the new freeways linking up parts of the network that were planned but never built for decades. The roll out of electric trains on double track railway corridors, the City Rail Loop now being built under our downtown, the green light to affix a walking and cycle ‘clip on’ under the Harbour Bridge which will allow cyclists and walkers to now easily travel the 15 km round trip from downtown Auckland to picturesque Devonport (and perhaps catch a ferry for the ten minute ride across the harbour back to the starting point).

Our Hauraki Gulf and harbour have been declared reserves with limits on commercial fishing to try and rehabilitate a highly degraded marine environment and fish stocks. Within an hours’ ferry ride lie a number of island sanctuaries where Aucklanders (and visitors) can now see some of the world’s most endangered bird species as their island homes have been rid of introduced predators. Next to many of these islands are others covered in olive groves and wineries producing some truly outstanding product and places to eat, drink and while away a pleasant afternoon, day or weekend.

To the west lie the Waitakere Ranges, our own ancient rainforest protecting Auckland from the harshest of the weather that rolls ashore off the Tasman Sea (especially at this time of year).

Downtown Auckland is seeing a huge boost in residents living in the Central Business District. Now more than 50,000 call downtown home. You can imagine, I am sure, the impact this has had on eating out, night clubs, bars and if it is your thing, retail therapy.

We have, touch wood, experienced none of the threats that have dragged many of the top European cities down this year or Sydney where an increased threat of terrorism has seen that city bow out of the top ten.

Sometimes being a relatively small and relatively isolated set of islands with first world infrastructure, wide open spaces, high standards of public health and education and, it must be said, politics so stable as to be dead boring – all helping to make Auckland an increasingly cool and hip place to live, work and play (or just visit if you are not lucky or smart enough to live here).

I have to end by saying if you love Auckland, you’ll love the rest of the country even more. We are a relatively big city these days with 1.7 million people and that has its drawbacks. However there are very few people who could live in a city such as this with our temperate climate who can travel 120 minutes by plane and be scuba diving in the tropics or fly the other way and be skiing on a mountain top. And be home in time for a truly memorable eating experience at one of the world’s top restaurants.

I guess this helps explain why Auckland is now groaning under the weight of several million tourists each year. Traditionally many would fly into Christchurch and head for the hills/mountains/lakes and enjoy those quintessentially New Zealand wild and untamed places. Increasingly however they can spend a week in Auckland and then head for the wilderness and have two very different but equally wonderful experiences.

So watch out Melbourne, we have taken out Sydney and we are coming after you.

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