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Why I Love Auckland, New Zealand
When I saw that Allen was looking for a new place to inhabit I did the typical thing and said, “Hey, why not consider Auckland?”
Of course Allen decided to then ask a few of us to write up a bit of a post on our cities and why they’d be great to live in. Now this is easier said that done & I have to admit, not being a true Aucklander I’m hard pushed to start my article as “Why I love Auckland” – I won’t sugar coat it. I live here because I got a job here – but I stay here because …. well now, lets take a look at that shall we?
Auckland, the City of Sails, is the northern most city in New Zealand. It’s a city of over 1.4 million people, and is currently in the process of transitioning from 7 regional cities into one super city. Built around the volcanic isthmus, Auckland is a rather spread out city, with the narrowest section of the city being something like 5 kilometers from east to west. You can drive to the coast (either east or west) in about 10 mins from anywhere in the city.
Auckland is a playground for those who love the water, with more boats per head of capita than … oh right we are tech people, we don’t go outside do we? For those of us that do there are heaps of outdoor activities, walks, mountain bike tracks, beaches, forests and more within 60mins from the CBD. Given Auckland is quite northern, the climate is sub tropical – meaning it doesn’t really get cold here. You can expect winter night temps to dip to 2 or 3 degrees C but seldom do the day time temps drop below 10 degrees C.
Okay enough of that, why is Auckland great for startups and the tech sector? To me the answer of this goes back to NZ’s roots. Traditionally (I’m talking my Grandparents generation) New Zealand was so far away from anywhere, that if something broke getting spare parts was difficult & time consuming. So kiwis (no not the fruit, the people) got used to being creative creating new parts from anything around. It’s what we call the “No. 8 wire” attitude. (No.8 wire is a common fencing wire that can be used in almost as many ways as Duct Tape can be). Fast forward a bit and this attitude bodes well for our tech sector, where the can do attitude has helped many NZ Tech companies play big on the world stage. There is a great community in the tech sector where people help, chat and share ideas, technology and advice.
The Tech Scene
There is a surprising amount of activity in the Auckland Tech community, that creates ways for people to network with each other, ideas to be birthed or grown and creating ways for people to learn. We’ve recently completed our 3rd BarCampAuckland, we have regular tech drinks nights (including Google sponsored Thirsty Thursday Drinks, Eventfinder sponsored Tech Startup Drinks), a number of Tweetups (including the now fortnightly BagelRun (tweet me if you want to know more about this) and the Creative Girls breakfast (tweet RGoodchild if you want to know more about this)) and of course there are the UserGroups (php, ColdFusion, MacUsers etc). One of the more popular events is the monthly WebMeetUp where Pizza & Beer are shared with great conversation, presentations and encouragement of one another.
There are also more business focused networking opportunities that often have a tech focus put on by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, the BNI networks and the EMA business breakfasts are great for those needing more business support in growing their startup.
Twitter is hugely popular in New Zealand, and one of the best ways to reach out into the tech community here is to simply tweet, kiwis will soon spread the word and help you find an event to get along too and start building up your network.
We are lucky today that New Zealand is less than 24hours away from almost anywhere in the wold by plane, and there are planes taking you to international destinations leaving all the time. This means it’s not that hard should you want to pop over to Australia for a conference or two .. hey what am I saying? We have some GREAT conferences here. Heck WebStock is one of the BEST web conferences around and always has great international speakers.
There are other great conferences too, like Web09 which I’m hoping with turn into Web10 next year & then there is the upcoming world wide Linux conference in Wellington (just down the road from Auckland) and more coming up.
New Zealand might be at the end of the world, but we throw a damn good conference and have some great after parties!!
When I launched my first startup I struggled to find local funding and ended up talking to VC’s from overseas, however now there seems to be a lot more access to local funding. In fact at a recent meet up there were two presentations from local Angel Investment firms on how to approach them and source funding. The Universities and local businesses have also teamed up with the creation of local incubators to foster development of local tech sectors. Many of these (as is the case overseas too) are funded and supported by those who made their money in the first dotCom or even through the creation & sale of software to international companies.
Infrastructure, Roading & Housing
As great as the tech scene is in New Zealand, there are of course always limits. Our broadband infrastructure is a topic of regular debate, as too are the prices we pay for broadband. Very few (if any) of our local ISP’s offer any unlimited packages and the speeds are … well faster than they were when I launched my first startup using 56k6 modems :)
The mobile market is dominated by two main players (our 3rd network just launched last week), meaning mobile data is expensive (I pay around $50 a month for 1GB of data on my iPhone – that doesn’t include any talk or txt time). Mobile calls are expensive meaning many kiwis simply txt message instead of calling. Maybe this is why Twitter is popular here!
As for public transport and transportation options in Auckland, sadly this too is a bit lacking and the costs almost make it too expensive to consider. Having said that many of my tech friends use the trains or busses and seem to enjoy the experience. For those of us living in the suburbs instead of the CBD, transportation options means, car or bike.
Like many typical cities, rental prices vary a lot, depending on neighborhood distance to the CBD. You can expect the rent for a 2 bedroom apartment to run around $400 to $500 a week. If you are happy to be out in the suburbs, you could find a good 4 bedroom home for around $500 to $600 a week.
Auckland, it’s a great friendly place with a thriving tech scene, great climate and quick access to activities from sailing to biking, walking to skiing, go-karts to racing and all in between. Great free summer concerts in the parks, and awesome local coffee, with a variety of great locations to work.
Clarification for our US friends
The little brown fruit that’s green on the inside that you call kiwi .. is called “Kiwi Fruit” it’s a double barreled name like your Marry-Jane. The little brown bird, that I’m pretty sure is red on the inside (they are protected so I’m not about to cut one), is called a Kiwi – it’s our national bird. People from New Zealand are known as Kiwis in honour of this little bird.
Since building his first commercial website in early 1994 Mr K has been passionate about driving New Zealand business forward in the online space. He’s done the startup thing, he’s had his triumphs and failures, and still loves business & the internet. A proud kiwi, happy to call NZ home. The lovely photos in this article are taken by Darren131 an insanely passionate web developer, driven by style, standards and all things Apple.