Saturday, December 15, 2012

Leaving Auckland

We are moving again; back to Christchurch. Hopefully this time to fewer earthquakes and more normalcy. I will continue my tradition of writing a retrospective on my year in a new city, this time Auckland.

I have been pretty much disappointed by Auckland. I had high hopes, I was hoping for big city culture, fun nights out, interesting cafes, and a bit more life than was offered by post-quake Christchurch. Partially because of my own laziness, and partially because of the city, that did not happen.

First the good bits: the Project is the awesome-est little climbing wall in the world. The wall is a good size and has good angles, and the setting has been great. But really, the community of climbers there has been amazing. I have met and hung out with a lot of very, very good people and had a lot of fun climbing and hanging out. I am going to really miss that place. In fact, (and contrary to popular opinion) I found the people of Auckland to be a real upside. My experience has been that they have been a lot more open-minded and less cliquey than people elsewhere in NZ, whilst still being friendly and laid back. I think the Project is mostly to blame for this opinion, and my sample size is small.

The second great thing about Auckland is the Mozilla office. I know it's kind of sad for work to be a highlight, but it has been fantastic. The physical office is pretty good - well-equipped, good atmosphere, everything needed for productivity and comfort. The thing that has made it great is the denizens. It has been a real privilege to work with such a group of smart, friendly, hard-working people. I will really miss our lunches and generally just being part of such an awesome group. It has also been cool to see the office grow from a handful of engineers working on similar things to an office full of people working on graphic design, privacy and security, research work, and of course platform engineering.

Some small things that have been cool: Kohu Road cafe (great ice cream, pretty good coffee, next door to the Project), proper Indian food (in Sandringham and Mount Roskill, Urban Turban, Rasoi. So good to have authentic stuff rather than the kiwi-Indian crap you get everywhere else), the fact that being in a mixed-race relationship is not unusual (and just being much more culturally diverse than the rest of NZ), Piha beach (so nice, so close, and a nice ride on the bike to get there), some fantastic cakes at cafes around Newmarket (in particular Little and Friday, mmmm), the view from my deck over Lynfield Cove and Blockhouse Bay - so lovely.

And some bad things - commuting (I have really got used to not commuting in NZ) and the traffic (oh God, the traffic), public transport (a city as large as Auckland needs decent public transport, without it I find it hard to take advantage of the nightlife or lots of other cool stuff, and also see the traffic), rude people (not as bad as England, but much worse than the rest of NZ, also see traffic again), lack of nearby rock and snow (this really pains me), our landlords (who booted us out six months into a one year contract and then got pissy that we hadn't dusted the blinds or cleaned the drains), the coffee (I thought Auckland was meant to be a Mecca for coffee, but it has been invariably terrible, I think I've had one really good cup all year (Coffee Supreme, Ponsonby)), food in general (too expensive, and for a city of its size, not so many vegetarian options, especially at the weekend), the weather (hot, humid, and lots of rain), probably some other stuff, but I should stop moaning.

I am glad to have spent the year here (the work stuff and the friends I've met have made it worth it), but I would not be keen to come back.


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