Newshub looks at the realities of upping sticks and leaving Auckland. This week: Te Aroha.
A former mining boom town and Victoria spa resort in the foothills of Mount Te Aroha, this charming small town has been luring in visitors for more than 100 years. But can it convince you to stay?
What's going for it?
The Victorian bath houses are still running, the mountain biking is accessible and caters to the full gamut of skill levels, and there's a bit of old architecture to boot.
There are antique stores and vintage clothing boutiques, a pretty wild daschund-shaped bike stand, and the oldest organ in the Southern Hemisphere (made in the 17th century, it now sits in St Marks on Kenrick Street).
The town is home to thermal and mineral waters, and the only hot-water soda guyser in the world.
The dairy industry is doing well, as is the growing tourism sector. But outside of that, jobs are not easy to come by. A quick look on Seek suggests you'll be working either for the local council or for Uber (they're recruiting in the Waikato).
What does the mayor say?
Te Aroha mayor Jan Barnes says:
"People should move to Te Aroha because it's a hidden jewel in the heart of the Waikato. Situated on a narrow strip of land between Mount Te Aroha - the highest mountain in the district at 952m - and the Waihou River, the town has charm and character, a welcoming population of some 4000 people, and hot spas in the beautifully preserved buildings of the Edwardian Domain.
"It's in the middle of the Hauraki Rail Trail, great schools, local industry (dairy, lamb, venison, beef and chicken processing), and a wealth of recreation opportunities and facilities, including the brand new Silver Fern Farms Events Centre, wetlands walks and mountain biking tracks, jet boating and hiking trails along the rugged Kaimai Ranges.
"Come to Te Aroha, and feel the love!"
Can you get a good cup of coffee?
Villa Nine Health & Coffee Shop is house in an old miner's cottage just off the main street. Good coffee and hearty food, plus a friendly house cat.
Anything happening after sunset?
Fair to say that Te Aroha is quite there yet in terms of the nightlife. There's Austin's Bar & Bistro, the Palace Hotel and the local RSA, but you might be better off heading 35 minutes down the road to Waihi.
What about culture?
This is an old-fashioned town and as such, culture is perhaps a step behind the curve. But there are regular dance nights at the Waihou Hall, and the Te Aroha Little Theatre stages shows three times a year.
Can you afford a house?
Prices are on the up thanks to an influx of Aucklanders, but they're still affordable. Charming cottages in the centre of town go for around $350,000, and reently a very cool native timber church built in the 1890s was on offer by tender.
Te Aroha offers three primary schools in town, two rural schools and a composite (that's Year 1 to 15). Te Aroha College is a decile 4 school with around 350 pupils.
How well-connected is it?
It's handy to plenty - 45 minutes' drive west to Hamilton and the same to the coast at Waihi beach in the east.
The town is 1.5 hours from downtown Auckland, while Rotorua, Taupo and Mt Ruapehu are close enough for winter skiing and weekend breaks.
The three-day Hauraki Rail Trail cycling path runs from Te Aroha to Waihi.
Next week... why you should move to Oamaru.