Auckland – the new San Francisco?

San Francisco is often likened to Amsterdam – and for good reason. Its open spirit, quality of life, and political liberalism make it seem like they are twins from the same mother. Yet, there is another place on the Pacific’s Ring of Fire that deserves a seat at the family table. Is Auckland a sister from another mister?

Bay Area

Auckland’s Mission Bay versus San Francisco Bay (picture taken at Kirby Cove).

Apart from the southern part of the city SF is surrounded by water. The Pacific Ocean to the west and the San Francisco Bay to the east and north of the city offer spectacular views. Although Auckland’s bays are not as breathtaking, they do provide a welcome refuge for a refreshing swim on a hot day. In the eastern part of the city you can walk from Mission Bay through Kohimarama to St Heliers Bay. The beaches are usually not very crowded and there are ice cream stores seemingly around every corner. Closer to the city center, Herne Bay offers a few secluded beaches. If you can find them, that little piece of sand is all yours! (hint: look for dead-end streets)

Fun Fact: Auckland has 3,100KM (1,926 miles) of coastline, versus SF’s 109KM.

Gay Area

Auckland’s Sky Tower lights up in rainbow colors during Gay Pride versus San Francisco’s Castro area.

San Francisco is known for being one of the Gay Capitals of the world (it seems to trade places with Amsterdam every year). The Castro area offers a plethora of gay bars and clubs. The rainbow-colored pedestrian’s crossing is definitely my favorite form of creative support. Nice touch SF! This February Auckland celebrated Gay Pride in Ponsonby. Restaurants had rainbow flags on their walls, there was a parade, and Auckland’s most iconic building – the Sky Tower – lit up in rainbow colors.

Fun Fact: After a few spurts in 2004 and 2008 the State of California recognized same-sex marriage in 2013. A few months after California New Zealand also passed a low recognizing same-sex marriage, buttressing its international reputation for social justice. The Netherlands was the first to recognize same-sex marriage in 2001.

Stray Area

Auckland’s Mount Eden Summit versus San Francisco’s Twin Peaks vista point.

Climbing Twin Peaks is an absolute must for visitors (and residents) of San Francisco. The view is absolutely stunning, whether you look out to the city, the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Pacific. At least as impressive is Auckland’s Mount Eden Summit – one of the city’s many volcanoes. The 360º view looks out over the city center to the north, the Coromandel Peninsula to the east, the Waitakere Plains to the west, and to the south you might catch a glimpse of incoming airplane traffic. Don’t like the view from Mount Eden? The view on One Tree Hill in Cornwell Park or Stockade Hill in Buckland’s Beach are equally (if not more) beautiful.

Fun Fact: Auckland is build on top of 53 (inactive) volcanoes.

Play Area

Cricket in Auckland’s Domain Park versus baseball in San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

San Francisco and Auckland have a perfect climate for outdoor activity. In both cities people seem to love the outdoors; going for bike rides in the nearby area, or hikes just outside the city. One striking difference is the number of parks between the cities. San Francisco’s park tend to get overpopulated, especially on the weekends. Auckland’s population is very widespread, which means that there is always room for a game of rugby or cricket in one of the city’s numerous parks. Moreover, the water surrounding Auckland lends itself for rowing and sailing – a favorite past time for many.

Fun Fact: Auckland has the world’s highest number of sailing boats per capita.

Place to Stay Area

Auckland’s Albert Road versus San Francisco’s Painted Ladies.

The housing market in Auckland and San Francisco are fairly similar. In the past decade(s), property prices have soared tremendously in both cities (where they have slightly dropped in SF recently). In SF housing prices relate to the actual building, whereas in Auckland it is the land that constitutes a property’s value. As a direct result of foreign investors flipping properties in New Zealand, prices have more than doubled in the past 5 years! Good news for homeowners, not as good news for those looking to buy one.

Fun Fact: SF’s population density: 7,124 people per square KM, compared to Auckland’s 2,700 people per square KM.

Vertical Way Area

Auckland’s King Street versus San Francisco’s Lombard Street.

I’m not going to claim that biking in Auckland is as challenging as in SF (although traffic makes it an adrenaline-filled ride usually). Yet, some of the streets in the city are comparable to SF’s Lombard Street. Whichever street you ride on, you’re sure to come out sweating!

Fun Fact: Biking is healthy!

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