Moving from the UK to Auckland was very much a spur-of-the-moment decision for me, something I saw as an adventure.
A spontaneous decision
The move to Auckland wasn’t something I’d been considering; in fact I didn’t know much about New Zealand before deciding to leave Manchester. It was very spontaneous.
I had a friend who had come to Auckland to study as part of a Master’s Degree so having someone else here who’d been through the visa process made it easier to navigate the requirements, and a working holiday visa was very easy to get.
I arrived with only what I could carry on my back, I sold everything at home apart from sentimental items, so I lived a very minimalist lifestyle at the beginning.
Workplace culture and career
I’m currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, which is the Auckland region’s economic and cultural agency. It’s our job to advance Auckland’s prosperity in a number of different ways, including attracting investment, bringing in domestic and international visitors, helping businesses grow and innovate, delivering major international and cultural events, and stimulating jobs.
The ultimate goal of the organisation is to improve the lives of people in Auckland – it’s hard not to feel a sense of pride in that. My team delivers digital solutions, content and communications across the whole organisation, including major marketing campaigns, our aucklandnz.com website, social media channels and regular contact with partners, shareholders and businesses.
Before joining Tātaki Auckland Unlimited in 2019, I was the Digital Marketing Manager at Auckland Museum for four years.
When I initially arrived on my working holiday visa, I found my first job on SEEK.co.nz, which is where almost all jobs in Auckland are advertised, across all sectors. I remember fielding several requests for an interview in one day, and I ended up having a relatively informal interview in a cafe with my first employer. There was an appreciation of my digital experience across the board and I was able to leverage that to find a suitable position.
I find the work culture here quieter but with a firm emphasis on care and whānau (family, including your work family), which is very different.
The Māori principles of kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection over our natural environment) and manaakitanga (kindness, hospitality and generosity and support for others) were concepts I learned while working at Auckland Museum. I’ve found them to be present in many areas of life here, including work. To me, they are a big part of the Kiwi attitude; it’s a great thing and quite a shift from the culture in the UK.
Auckland life – nature, culture, and dining
One of the biggest differences about Auckland compared to anywhere I’ve lived before is the proximity to the ocean and the ability to find somewhere peaceful in nature with little or no effort – it’s truly unique.
It’s so easy to escape outdoors, with parks, walking trails, surfing, sail, diving, fishing – anything on the water really. I love camping and west Auckland is perfect for those quick weekend camping missions. I’ve been able to travel to so many places in New Zealand since I’ve moved here too and I especially love Queenstown and the surrounding areas in the South Island.
I live in Parnell, which is one of Auckland’s inner-city suburbs, so it’s really easy to get to my work in the central city. There are some really great cafes and restaurants in Parnell, and nearby dining precincts like Ponsonby and K’ Road. I usually get around by car, Uber or walking.
Auckland’s city centre isn’t as dense as other major cities and I find it quiet compared to UK cities. After a while, I started spending more time in the suburbs, finding unique places such as local dining spots and galleries.
Having said that, I am a regular at two live theatres in the city centre, Basement and Q, with live performances like plays, music and comedy. It’s the best atmosphere, an awesome community and so reasonably priced; performances can be as low as $10 and are so worth it!
I also run a dinner/curry club called (don’t laugh) The Red Hot Chili Fellas, a dining group that visits a new restaurant each month with an emphasis on spicy food. We’re now six years old and have sampled food at more than 50 places across Auckland and New Zealand.
Making the move
My experience is a little different to many migrants as I’ve moved through the process from a working holiday to work visas, then to residency, and I'm now awaiting citizenship.
The process of getting a working holiday visa was easy and it did help having my friend here. Flatting was really easy when I first arrived too, but because of high house and rental prices, it’s worth doing thorough research before making the move.
Making friends was the biggest challenge at first, but apps like Meetup and expat groups are a great way to meet new people, as well as housemates (roommates). Flatting is definitely a good way to start in a country if the option is available as you quickly grow a network.
The unexpected arrival of COVID-19
When COVID-19 first appeared in 2020, I felt so much safer living in this country with the amazing response, particularly compared to the UK initially. I feel it would have been far more stressful over there.
Living close to the Auckland Domain (which is the largest park in the inner city and has some great views across the harbour) meant I could easily access nature during the initial ‘lockdown’ and it was perfect for those daily walks.
At work, because of the breadth and depth of our organisation, we have definitely had to adapt to the changes and restrictions COVID-19 brought. It resulted in pivoting a lot of projects, which was interesting as the pandemic rolled on, adjusting to ensure we kept Aucklanders informed and updated. Because I manage a team, I made extra effort to ensure health and wellbeing was top priority and enjoyed developing ways to ensure the team felt looked after and set up to succeed.
Final words of advice
If you’re considering moving to Auckland to live and work, join online expat groups for your country before you leave, to see how people like you experience New Zealand and whether it resonates with what you’re seeking. Arrive with an open mind with an appetite for new things.
Alex Rudzinski is the Digital Marketing Manager at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited. He moved to Auckland from Manchester in the UK in 2013.