This article was first published in the October 2015 issue of Metro. Illustration: Gary Venn.
Masts point at the sky like sticks, the hulls beneath like fat birds squatting on the mudflats. Pelicans. Beyond, the endlessly rippling sea, and the green mysterious headlands that you know are Birkenhead but look much more mysterious, much more inviting. Riding to work on the Outer Link Bus past Coxs Bay is not a bad way to set yourself up for the morning.
The bus route defines the prospects of central, urban, cosmopolitan Auckland. Sixteen of the restaurants in our Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Top 50 lie on its route, as do many places on our Top 100 Cheap Eats list. There are seven cinema complexes and six supermarkets, more than a dozen schools and so many cool cafes we stopped counting.
The Outer Link runs both ways, roughly every 15 minutes. That’s almost good enough to mean you don’t need a timetable, and on top of that, Auckland Transport has an app that tells you when the buses are coming for any stop in the city you ask about.
You can use the Link for recreation. To get to Eden Park, say, where they play the final of the 1st XV schoolboy rugby — and some games even bigger than that. There’s cricket at Victoria Park and in the Domain, football at Seddon Fields, tennis at Stanley St, terrific things for kids to climb on at Mt Albert’s Rocket Park, volcano-climbing at Mt Eden (go on, it’s always rewarding), and after filling yourself with art at the Auckland Art Gallery, there’s lounging on the grass in Albert Park. The museum and the Domain work well like that, too, and right now, if you hurry, there’s the added attraction of blossom.
Hop off at the corner of Meola and Pt Chevalier Rds and you’re a few minutes’ walk from the beautiful, safe, reasonably swimmable (at high tide) Pt Chev beach. Hop off along Jervois Rd and you can wander down to the little beaches of Herne Bay or the sweeping headland park of Pt Erin. Alight in Parnell instead and you can do the same for the Rose Gardens, Judges Bay and the Parnell Baths.
Shopping? Well, of course. The route bisects the central city, runs right through Newmarket and Parnell and goes past Three Lamps and the St Lukes mall. It serves both the inner-city universities and Unitec, and stops right by the mighty Civic.
Getting to all of that costs a maximum of $4.50, and just $3 with a Hop card. Which you would have. You can use the money you save catching the bus to pay off your mortgage faster.
You may need it. The route includes leafy suburbs with some of the largest and most luxurious homes: Herne Bay, Westmere, Parnell, Mt Eden and Epsom. But it also takes in parts of town like Balmoral and St Lukes that do not attract the same premium. More to the point, for those on a tight budget, the route is full of apartment blocks and townhouses.
Got a job in the city and want to make the most of its urban delights? How about doing the European thing? Rent or buy the best place you like and can afford, no matter how small, on the route. Park up the car. If you like living in the city, the bus will take you most of the places you want to go.