Dunedin, Wellington ‘best cities to live in’

‘Best city’ surveys give a bit of an indication of what people think but there are many factors to consider, like family, work, weather, education, health and what you are familiar with.

The ‘Quality of Life’ project does a two yearly survey, and in the latest one Dunedin and Wellington have come out on top:

Overall quality of life – extremely good+very good:

  • Dunedin: 27+61=88%
  • Wellington: 28+59=87%
  • Porirua: 19+65=84%
  • Hutt: 22+60-82%
  • Hamilton: 18+64=82%
  • Auckland: 18+61=79%
  • Christchurch: 20+58=78%

Those are percentages based on city councils.

Obviously with a much bigger population Auckland numerically has many more people satisfied with their city, but also quite a few more who are dissatisfied, 4% of one and a half million people is 60,000 people, about half the population of Dunedin.

A notable omission of the major cities is Tauranga.

Overall quality of life – poor+extremely poor


  • Dunedin: 2+0=2%
  • Wellington: 2+0=2%
  • Porirua: 2+1=3%
  • Hutt: 3+0=3%
  • Hamilton: 2+1=3%
  • Auckland: 4+0=4%
  • Christchurch: 4+0=4%

Those are remarkably low levels of dissatisfaction with cities, especially considering Christchurch and it’s problems with earthquakes. However about 20% of Christchurch residents said they were stressed “always” or “most of the time”.

Stuff reports: Dunedin is the best NZ city to live in – just

Dunedin has pipped Wellington to become the best city in New Zealand to live in, according to a new survey.


Statistically Dunedin and Wellington are the same so ‘best’ is barely . However if you combine the greater Wellington cities which include Porirua and Hutt they drop a bit down the scale.

Affordable housing, civic pride, and a strong sense of safety seem to be behind the good results for Dunedin in the biennial Quality of Life Survey.

Those in Dunedin were also more likely to be physically active and less likely to be stressed than their urban counterparts.

The study questioned 7155 Kiwis across seven urban areas and two wider regions. Quality of life in general was relatively steady across the two previous surveys in 2014 and 2012.

The Stuff article covers a number of issues affecting people’s opinion s on their cities, such as stress, traffic and safety.

Wellingtonians were also the most welcoming to outsiders. About three quarters of the capital’s respondents said that New Zealand becoming home for people with different lifestyles and cultures made their city a better place to live in.

Aucklanders were the least welcoming, with just over half (52 per cent) saying diversity was a net positive and one in five saying it was a net negative.

It’s interesting that Auckland has by far the most immigrants and is the least tolerant of them, but ‘locals’ will be seeing huge changes to their city (or in many cases their adopted city).

I will post separately on what the survey found about housing.


  1. I think Dunedin is a very good place to live. I have lived in Auckland briefly (not fussed) and in Central Otago for quite a few years (I grew up there) but Dunedin has a very good balance of size for me, big enough but not too big.

    Dunedin has it’s own attractions, especially with things like it’s many and varied beaches and it’s sea based wildlife.

    Some people from colder, warmer, windier, wetter and muggier climates might scoff but for me Dunedin weather is mostly good enough. It’s a very good working climate. Dunedin is relatively dry by precipitation volume but we tend to get lighter rain for longer. The next few days look like being dampish with NE drizzle setting in – we call it Scotch mist.

    We usually get just enough snow to be fun and the occasional day off work but not too much to be a major disruption (most of what you see on TV news affects only a small number of people for short periods of time).

    The last few weekends have been great, sunny enough but not too hot. I’m well ahead of normal with my outside work, including a major project of shifting 200m of fence to where it should be on a boundary.

    Dunedin is not far from many other places of interest, within easy driving distance of the Catlins, Fiordland, Central Otago, the Southern Lakes, a number of skifields, Waitaki, ther Mackenzie Country, Mt Cook, Tekapo, Christchurch (not my thing), Banks Peninsula etc etc.

    Dunedin doesn’t get many of the large events that the bigger cities get but it’;s cheaper to live in Dunedin and travel occasionally for something special. And it’s not a lot harder or more expensive to fly to Brisbane/Gold Coast/Sunshine Coast in particular and also Sydney and Melbourne than it is to Auckland.

    I live with a rural outlook plus harbour views but only 10-15 minutes from the CBD and most shopping. Five minutes from the best stadium in the country and a top cricket ground and athletics track and tennis courts and hockey turf. 5-10 minutes from the university.

    I’m very happy with Dunedin – but obviously ‘best city’ means different things for different people.

    • Conspiratoor

       /  24th September 2016

      Oh stop it pg. If it wasn’t for the … how can I put this kindly … mercurial weather, Dunners would be the Vegas of the South Pacific. My overiding memory of the time I worked for Tiger Turner in Ardlussa, was the drive up through Otago in a crystal clear, blue sky day. Until the last 15kms when you could see that inevitable black cloud hanging over the city. Sure enough over the Saddle Hill and the last downhill and the heavens would open. Right on cue!

      • Black clouds and heavens opening are rare in Dunedin.

        Grey clouds are common, and the sky dribbles far more than it drains.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  24th September 2016

          Lalalala, not listening, can’t hear you, lalalalala……

    • Zedd

       /  24th September 2016


      i like it here too Pete ! 🙂

  2. Gezza

     /  24th September 2016

    Welly’s tops. There must have been something wrong with their methodology or a few crates of single malts might’ve swung one of the judges. We’re not fooled up in North Welly.

    • Tops is in the eye of the hops?

      • Gezza

         /  24th September 2016

        Lovely sunny morning here today, Pete. No wind in North Welly. Might be a slight breeze down on the waterfront, I imagine.

        How’s the weather down your way.

        • It’s been a very good week weatherwise, and a good month really, hardly any rain for two weeks. But today the Scotch mist seems to have set in and could last a few days. It’s a weather pattern we get occasionally.

          • Gezza

             /  24th September 2016

            Sorry, I should’ve read your first comment properly. It’s nice to see the sun here, admittedly. Been a pretty grey, wet, breezy week. Funny thing is we haven’t had much wind here this year. Not in North Welly anyway.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  24th September 2016

              I should have been able to work out what Scotch mist was, but I hadn’t.

              I love my copy of Winnie the Pooh translated into Scottish. Piglet is Wee Grumphie.Owl is Hoolet.

          • Gezza

             /  24th September 2016

            Very British, isn’t it? Talking about weather. I don’t think Maori do it, be good to hear from Possers on that one.

          • Conspiratoor

             /  24th September 2016

            Q: why do people live in dunners?
            A: to prove it can be done

            pg, with respect you and dear old G have never lived anywhere half decent … like Napier, Cable Bay, Ahipara with its fruit de la mer, or Goa where a man can live like a king on 2 dollars a day

            • I’ve lived quite a bit in Central Otago (about 25 years over all) and that is a great place in many ways – actually a variety of great places.

              It has some of the hottest driest weather in the country in summer.

              And some of the best winter weather if you like curling and skiing and apricots and cherries and vineyards and having natural bug control (no any problems down here) and having brilliant seasonal variations.

              I think that despite a lot of grizzling about the weather most people are capable of looking for the positives wherever they live.

          • Gezza

             /  24th September 2016

            Well, yes, Napier was pretty nice when I spent 10 days up there in 1883, but it’s all gone a bit *Wild West* over that way now hasn’t it? You need a certificate of provenance for your meat?

            Goa Schmoa, bet the place is full of foreigners, c.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  24th September 2016

              Goa was full of zedds when I was there in the 80s G … if you know what I mean. Probably still has a … peaceful vibe to it

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  24th September 2016

              It’s grey here today, but warm enough for t-shirt and bare feet and to have the doors and windows open.

  3. A stupid heading for a nonsensical story. Only 7 cities and 2 regions surveyed. Hawke’s Bay?Taranaki? Marlborough? Bay of Islands? About 800 people per. Regions’ results not recorded. No margin of error.
    I’d be more interested in the results if they didnt spin the interpretation.
    Oh, and from personal experience, Dunedin can be far less welcoming on Boxing Day in the height of summer than Hastings on its worst winter’s day.

    • Dunedin weather can be ‘unwelcoming’ on any day of the year. Wind from the south is either cool or cold.

      But with the variety you appreciate and enjoy the good weather, and there’s enough of that, especially these days – the weather is definitely getting less harsh.

  4. lurcher1948

     /  24th September 2016


    • I can agree with that. The vibe you get in Wellington seems a lot more friendly than what you get in other places, including Dunedin. This quote from the article I think sums it up: “Wellingtonians [are] also the most welcoming to outsiders. About three quarters of the capital’s respondents said that New Zealand becoming home for people with different lifestyles and cultures made their city a better place to live in.”

  5. patupaiarehe

     /  24th September 2016

    A notable omission of the major cities is Tauranga.

    Sure is. Other than having the busiest port in NZ, and a highway directly to it, from what is arguably the fastest growing industrial estate in the country, Tauranga doesn’t have much to offer. The pristine coastline between Mt Maunganui & the Kaituna Cut is hardly worth mentioning. What a terrible place to spend an afternoon with the kids…
    Home is where the heart is, and isn’t it great to see all the comments above, from people who love where they live as much as I do?