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Goodbye, Auckland

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, December 14th, 2021 - 21 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, covid-19, public transport, supercity, sustainability, transport - Tags:

For the first time in a long time, Aucklanders get to leave. Tomorrow – travel freedom day – we are going to see the 12,000 air bookings out of Auckland queue around SH20 to the airport.

In the following week we will see motorways north and south pile up with even greater intensity than usual as Aucklanders who are able to get out for the first time in months.

They’ve been leaving for a while.

In late October it was announced that New Zealand population growth was slowing in all regions due to the COVID international travel restrictions. But it actually fell in Auckland. Chief Statistician Hamish Slack commented that “While the population decrease in the Auckland region was just 1,300 or 0.1 percent in 2021, this was still a significant change.”

Auckland has grown on average 1.8% over the past 20 years, higher than the national average, and proportionally Auckland dominates New Zealand as in few other countries in the world.

The 2020-21 COVID restrictions have had the effect of making Auckland liveable again by decreasing congestion and making it a whole lot less aggravating.

So hundreds of thousands of people leaving for January will make that even smoother.

Surely in this existential pause if ever there were a revolution to occur in how one third of New Zealand lives, it would be now.

Yet even in this peaceable context for Auckland, one of Auckland’s most passionate, knowledgeable and committed urbanists Matt Lowrie is in utter despair at the uselessness of Auckland’s public transport system.

It was striking to see Matt Lowrie at GreaterAuckland complain at how useless public transport is in Auckland.

He is exceedingly patient, is an avid cyclist, is across all the working groups, and daily assembles a formidable team of nerdy planners and transport specialists to comment on every urban improvement that is and can be made in the region.

He despairs.

I have this sneaking feeling that people have just had enough.

For those still holding out for the future, today, more news of a western Auckland cycleway that now only has funding for the first of seven stages. How the Council got into that little mess is a silly saga all by itself, but it is going south very fast.

This is on top of the New Lynn to Avondale cycleway that has been in design since 2014. About 3 kilometres to build, parallel to a rail line, maybe March 2022. In that time a place like Dunedin started and is near-completion of multiple cycle networks.

In the next few days we will get an announcement about a light rail option for Auckland. It will be a decade away before it’s carrying people. It was top of the construction list post-election 2017.

I had a good discussion with a major moving company rep the other day. For those trying to get out of Auckland to pastures south, their order books are full to June. COVID has given people sufficient time to form plans, change jobs, and commit elsewhere. Lots of people.

They are done with Auckland.

For the hundreds of thousands who have decided to holiday at a town near you, just be careful: they may never leave.

21 comments on “Goodbye, Auckland ”

  1. woodart 1

    good column. covid has obviously had huge effect on working from home etc , and more and more businesses have decided to up sticks and move to cheaper locations . population movement is a very interesting subject to observe, and the reasons for such movement WITHIN countries has usually been for employment. the age of movers is also very instructive. auckland is already becoming a city of young imports(from wthin NZ and overseas) , and this trend will accelerate . 40 yrs ago, the bright lights attracted me to places like ak, now they repel me . and many other fossils. the free market has turned into the flee market…

    • mary_a 1.1

      @ Woodart (1) .. Spot on there.

      We left Auckland for Cromwell Central Otago just over four years ago. It was the best thing we did. No regrets whatsoever. yes

  2. Gezza 2

    Really neat pic of Auckland. Very artistic photographer.

    One wonders what an increased exodus from Auckland for pastures greener will do to the demographics there?

    • Ad 2.1

      You won't get cohort shift breakdowns until the next census. When that comes out any change will likely be easier to register in the data around those who have left Auckland than in any specific effect in small towns.

      But the StatsNZ release cited is a start.

      • Obtrectator 2.1.1

        "You won't get cohort shift breakdowns until the next census."

        And not even then, unless it makes a better fist of gathering the necessary data than in 2018.

  3. Stephen D 3


    “You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave! "

  4. RedLogix 4

    Good article as always Ad.

    Our own lives back this up. Our family has been Auckland based for five generations – but we're the last. My partner and I left 20 years ago, my brother last year. My daughters cannot stand even visiting the place.

    When my father passes away he will be the last.

  5. Blazer 5

    People leave Auckland,they leave New Zealand….it always seems to be balanced out by the incoming ,especially from Asia in the last 2 decades.

    Immigration has proven vital to GDP and Auckland house prices.

    Becoming tenants in their own country for Joe Lunchbox in NZ ,seems an irreversible trend.

  6. DS 6

    IIRC, 2020 saw the South Island population increase faster than the North for the first time in over a century.

  7. tc 7

    Good post. Born and raised in sth akl, visited akl over many years living offshore observed the growing unaddressed issues.

    Moved back for family, exited akl once those factors had resolved themselves hastened by the supershity cluster.

    I never intended staying. After living overseas in a well structured city it was pretty obvious akl was never going to be one.

  8. vto 8

    dont come down here its horrible

    • In Vino 8.1

      Where is down here? And don't say Hamilton – I am happy enough here..

      (Mind you, most Aucklanders want only to by-pass Hamilton, and will be annoyed that the roading project is not yet complete.)

    • Ad 8.2


      Comment of the day

  9. Robert Guyton 9

    Nothing worth seeing in the South Island.

  10. weka 10

    Great, another boost to the housing crisis in the regions.

  11. Johnr 11

    Auckland as a town is an unpleasant place to live particularly since becoming a "super city" when all the character suburbs became subsumed into a dollar provider for the CBD. The moneyed men are fixated on the CBD being the be all and end all of auckland.

    However Auckland has one redeeming feature The Hauraki Gulf, one of three great cruising grounds in nz the others being marlborough sounds and bay of islands. This is why I live on my boat here and venture perhaps 2 miles inland for groceries, under protest.

  12. Hunter Thompson II 12

    One redeeming feature of Auckland, if you live there: access to good health services.

    A friend of mine lived 10 minutes from Auckland Hospital and was very grateful when he needed urgent medical help, including surgery. His family, too, appreciated being nearby.

    Live in the boonies if you like, but don't complain about having to drive three hours to see a medical specialist. I guess it all depends on your age.


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