I decided to move abroad a few years prior to leaving South Africa in 2017. I wanted a new adventure - to explore another part of the world and meet different people. You are able to grow, achieve greater perspective, and become more independent when you move overseas.
Why Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland?
I was keen to move to New Zealand because of the outdoor lifestyle and diverse beauty. I did consider other places like the South Island because that lifestyle is so accessible there, but I chose Auckland because I knew I could find work here. It is a great place to find your feet with a large, diverse international community.
I also had an old university friend here and he was able to put me in touch with prospective employers prior to my arrival in New Zealand. Having at least one social connection and a job offer meant that Auckland was the most sensible choice.
Career meets community
I am a Project Manager at Auckland Council, where I’ve worked for four years, and my role involves the end-to-end delivery of community infrastructure and construction projects.
I have been involved in a number of large-scale heritage renewal projects across the city centre, including some iconic historical buildings, as well as a new coastal infrastructure project and comprehensive upgrades to public spaces across Auckland.
There is a lot I like about my job and working for Auckland Council – diversity in the workplace, opportunities for personal and professional development, a good work-life balance, and an interesting and challenging stream of work.
My home away from home
I discovered that Auckland is very multicultural and accepting. The city centre is safe and accessible, beaches are nearby, and transport is good and is always improving. Every suburb has a public park, reserve or green space close by - perfect for a run or walk.
The feeling of safety is one of the most notable differences here, particularly being able to walk around at night.
After meeting locals and talking to other migrants early on, I decided to live in Kingsland, a suburb just outside the city. It is vibrant and young, the rent is affordable, parks are close by, and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes within walking distance. Ponsonby, just minutes away, has great restaurants for dining out with friends and Karangahape Road (K’ Road) around the corner has some iconic live music venues.
I like the style of Kingsland’s villa houses too, and a cycleway and motorway nearby make for an easy commute. The buses are reliable and affordable so I take a bus to work and drive outside of work. The city is very bicycle-friendly too, and the infrastructure is continually improving.
Exploring the great outdoors
There are so many beaches, parks and areas of native forest to explore in Auckland. Large local parks, such as Cornwall Park and Western Springs Park, are ideal for walking and running, and the views from the summit of Mount Eden/Maungawhau (the highest of Auckland’s mainland volcanic cones) are a nice reward. For more challenging hiking, there are excellent trails through the Hunua Ranges and Riverhead Forest, and the Te Henga Walkway has spectacular coastal scenery. My favourite beaches are Te Henga Bethells Beach, one of the west coast’s black-sand surf beaches, and Tāwharanui in the north.
I am a keen rock climber and although there are no mountains suitable for rock climbing in Auckland, there are several great indoor climbing places, including a new bouldering gym not far from me. The good news is I have been able to go outdoor rock climbing in a number of scenic spots throughout New Zealand.
It is easy to travel around New Zealand. Since moving to Auckland, I have visited Queenstown, Wellington, Christchurch, Wanaka, and Nelson. Wanaka, in the South Island, is the highlight for me; the scenery is incredible and very different to what I’m used to.
The visa application system is very user-friendly; everything is done online, which is convenient and easy.
I stayed with a friend for two weeks until I found a place to live. If you’re sharing accommodation, I’d recommend meeting your housemates (flatmates) before signing a lease, to make sure you are a good fit.
Moving to a new country is a big challenge but there are lots of people in the same boat that you will meet along the way. The biggest challenges are adjusting to a new way of life, making friends, and finding a suitable living situation – with the right people and in the right place.
My advice is to just put yourself out there; be willing to step out of your comfort zone, try new things, attend social events, and meet new people.
Andrew is a Project Manager at Auckland Council. Andrew moved to Auckland from South Africa in 2017.