Elizabeth Davies on how the annual Christmas shopping expedition is less stressful in Tauranga than Auckland

Elizabeth Davies on how the annual Christmas shopping expedition is less stressful in Tauranga than Auckland

By Elizabeth Davies

As Christmas approaches my anxiety begins to reach its peak.

Most Christmases I spend the 22nd and the 23rd of December wandering shell shocked around a mall fighting back tears as the crowds and the pressure threaten to overwhelm and send me fleeing.

On a number of occasions I find myself driving around for half an hour looking for a car park before eventually giving up and just going home. At this time of year, especially in Auckland, parking wardens stalk the streets, ready and willing to bless you with a ticket if you should overstay your car park by thirty seconds.T’is the season.

When you do find a car park you better be ready and willing to throw money at hungry machines and swiftly recalculate your present budget. If you’re lucky enough to find a carpark on the street you’re looking at $4 an hour and in most cases you’ll end up in a parking building paying more.

If you’re smart you stay home and order all you presents online and just avoid going out altogether.

You can imagine my shock when I arrived in Tauranga. In the most central part of town parking is $2 an hour from Monday to Friday. One street back it’s $1 an hour and one street further back it’s free.

On the weekends parking is completely free with generous time restrictions. After four in the afternoon on any day of the week parking is free.

If you do have to resort to parking in car parking buildings the council website suggests you go in a group as carpooling cars receive a discounted rate.

Every carpark comes with a ten minute grace period. According to the council website if you’re just parking to pop in and drop off your library books you shouldn’t bother getting a ticket. If your lunch meeting runs ten minutes late, don’t panic, you’ve got a further ten minutes after your ticket has expired before anyone is going to pounce.

If we were living in Auckland my partner would be spending about $50 a week on parking or $34 a week on buses. By living in Tauranga and taking advantage of the free parking he’s saving either $200 or $136 a month. Not to mention the extra hour or so additional travel time required to sit in Auckland traffic every day.

Our close proximity to town means that even when you factor in spending more money on petrol due to driving to work, you’re still seeing a saving of $100 a month minimum. Not to mention the money saved when you pop into town to go to dinner, catch a movie or grab a coffee or the barely justifiable fines generously presented to you on a frequent basis by over-zealous parking wardens.

I won’t lie and say the second I got here it felt like home, nor will I say it feels like home now, after more than a month. I will say that the savings I’m seeing are positive. We’ve moved away from home in the hopes that one day in the not too distant future, we’ll be able to afford a home of our own.

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Elizabeth Davies is a 24 year-old graduate of the Auckland University of Technology post graduate journalism course. She writes a weekly article for interest.co.nz on money matters and financial struggles from a young person's perspective.

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Sooooooo. Which street do you park on?
Being totally sexist here, I bet that on the shopping street in Tauranga it will be 99% women. The street back will be 50% women, 50% men and the street further back it will be 99% men............ 

You're right you are being completely sexist. If I'm writng an article on the benefits of free parking it's obviously something I value. I therefore park on the street farthest back but thank you for your completely evidence and fact free assumption about men and women.

Uninterested, you may need some aloe vera for that burn..............

I really doubt that large cities like Auckland are efficient. because of the sorts of things that you point out.  All this extra time, time and distance equate to added cost. 
There was a suppliment recently in the Herald titled Project Auckland.  Much of it was a litany of problems that need to be addressed - dressed up as oportunities, financed from- who knows where (the locals already pay plenty for houses schools rates transport etc)  The fact is that if a city is efficient, creative and viable they are getting on with it and generating the cash for what is needed.  The fact that Auckland cannot do this suggests that in it's current form is not viable and only surviving on the immigration/ property growth ponzie scheme.
I my traveling round the world I have been struck by the fact that many of the great industrial companies started out in small comunities and the succesfull ones have stayed put.  I have never visited a large or creative company in a large city.  I put the reason for this down to the fact that in big cities property costs are very large and staff are too mobile for companies to build up a loyal work force with the depth of institutional knowledge required for signifficant and ongoing success.
Having recently moved to Tauranga from Auckland ourselves, I am beginning to encounter far more enterprises that are creative and pursuing the sorts of paths that will lead to success. 

Auckland needs to choose between being a city with a pedestrian and tourist friendly core and a decent public transport system, and a port.
Both Tauranga and Auckland would benefit from shifting Auckland's port to Tauranga. Tauranga's port can be further developed, and a railway between Auckland and Tauranga established to help shift goods.
Auckland can then redevelop its waterfront to attract more footfall, it can concentrate on cruise ship passengers, and get that blasted CRL up and going so people can get moved in and out efficiently.
Auckland's not really a city, not like Wellington is. It's an amalgamation of villages that have become joined due to urban sprawl...

Imagine your amazement coming to Rotorua!!! 90mins free parking in the central city all year round!!
Walking tracks through the Redwoods 3 mins away, 2 excellent golf course 5 mins away, a third 20 mins away, mountain biking on the world's best tracks, fishing, luging, thermal baths an on and on and on.....oh and I forgot Eat Street, the lakes ...and it's all flat!!! 
Median house prices around $275,000 ...Paradise on Earth!! Oops must go...blue sunny skies...sigh