Auckland is at once the same and radically different from cities in South America. It’s not the overarching categories of things that are different; there are still roads, cars, restaurants, parking lots, houses, parks. But how they look is radically different compared to South America. Gone is much of the roughness, the sensation of that the city is unfinished and in flux. Auckland instead resembles the coastal cities of the United States, with a static polish over everything. There are things under construction, but they’re politely hidden from view and fenced off by perimeters of cones and fences. All of the roads sport the glossy sheen of asphalt and sidewalks are formed by immaculately poured concrete. And the buildings form neat little units, sized and proportioned to match each other even when they differ in appearance.
But even in the static polish of Auckland, where you could for a moment mistake yourself in Seattle or San Francisco, there are little things that stand out as different. It’s the details that make a place, and here in Auckland these little things take on a form of whimsy we’ve come to associate with New Zealand.