Waterside cities


I’ve never lived inland.
I’ve lived all my life so far in the same city – a harbour city. A three-harboured city, actually.

Auckland sits like a smear between our harbours, but it’s not as bad other places. Our beaches are fine to swim at, mostly. And only a few kilometers out into the harbour, the sea becomes bright and sparkling.

It’s undoubtedly because I grew up here, with a beach always 20 minutes drive away and any direction’s vista ending eventually in grey sea.

Inland cities feel wrong to me. In the evening when the newsreader’s map goes from town to town, those surrounded in green look displaced. It’s not a view without water.

Rivers help. I went to Melbourne this year and the wide dark strip gave the city a centre, a point to navigate from. But you can’t really replace a sea horizon. Beaches are important. Cities get so full-of-themselves; I love it, but beaches remind you how much else exists. The sky is too far away to do the same thing. You can’t ignore a sea. No matter how self-involved you’re feeling, it will always be greater than you.

Someday I’ll no doubt live inland. But right now, I can’t imagine it. If I think of ‘land’, it’s coastline. ‘Mountains’ are something you can see the sea from. Trade in my mind is the container ships and huge grey cranes.

Things are defined by their borders, aren’t they?



33 responses to “Waterside cities

  1. Be careful if you move inland! I, too, have always lived in waterside cities except for a terrible stint in the mountains. Everything went wrong that year–bad job, bad apartment, car crash! I moved myself back to the coast and things settled down again.

  2. In teen years, at school, in the 1950s, in UK, my favourite locations studied in Geography were British Columbia and New Zealand. My siblings went mostly to BC. I went only so far as from Northern England to the South Coast’s Poole Bay. My fave NZ city in Geog was Aukland, the dual aspect city I guess. Your feelings for the particular topography (right word?) makes a most excellent subject for a Post! Most interesting!

  3. In February this year I visited New Zealand for the first time and fell in love with Auckland, its ferries, its Sky Tower, its volcano across the bay and those incredible beaches at Muriwai and Karekare. Back home I also live in a waterside city called Durban. I’ve lived inland before and love the mountains but it definitely isn’t the same as being near the sea. My daily glimpse of the sea, no matter how rushed it might be, helps to keep me centred and sane.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you love Muriwai, it’s one of my favourite beaches. (If you ever come back to NZ, it sounds like you’d love the Bay of Islands further north.)

  4. I relate to your post 100%
    I live on a bay, that opens up to a lake, one of the Great Lakes. Not quite the sea, but large enough for me. I used to live inland, I preferred it at the time because I didn’t know anything else, and everything was in a convenient distance as opposed to where I am now, water-side. But now, when I go inland, something doesn’t feel right to me. All i see is cement and trees, no blue area whatsoever, except for the sky, and even then there is something missing and in an odd way, the atmosphere feels dry to me. I may live inland again someday, but I will always return to where the water is.

  5. I grew up inland but now live by the sea and I honestly love it. I’m not a boating/swimming/water sports kinda gal but I feel better just gazing over the sea. I feel like I was meant to be here.

  6. I grew up in an inland city several hours’ drive from the beach. It was always a magical occasion when we went to the sea. It is truly the edge of the world. I used to wade out into the water and, once I was out of my depth, kick to keep afloat, looking back at the shore thinking how magical it was that I had left the land.

  7. Beautiful! I recently moved to a town where I’m about an hour and twenty minutes from the closest beach. I’m on a river that leads out to the gulf (and to the Atlantic – the Intercostal waterway), but it’s not the same. I moved here from the Florida Keys, where I was literally in walking distance from the beach and no more than 1/2 mile from a canal, channel, or bridge at any given time. I miss it, and your post has made me most nostalgic to go back. Love the photos!


  8. This made me homesick! I’ve lived in Auckland my whole life and just moved to the US. The city I’m in now is hours away from the nearest ocean. I had no idea how much I love being near the water until I couldn’t!

  9. Lving in Czech Republic which is landlocked for a year and a half now and it’s been great, although I do very much miss the sea! There’s something about the waves gently lapping ashore and that fresh salty air that inland just doesn’t have.

  10. Great post. I’ve lived inland for work a few times, but I feel restless without wide horizons and waves to stare into. I grew up by the sea and, much as I’ve enjoyed my travels, it feels wonderful to be back home in Cornwall, England. I’d love to visit Auckland one day.

  11. Nice pictures! I agree with your post, I am from a seaside city and love sea! I’m living inland now, fortunately there is a river (my favorite part of the city, of course!).

  12. Used to live inland and now live on the coast in England, we keep talking about moving but neither of us want to leave the sea. NZ has so many lovely coastal towns, possibly the only other place I’d want to live!

  13. I lived for one year in Switzerland. The wine, cheese and chocolate were ultimately not enough to distract me from the thirsty condition of being landlocked. 98% of my time has been seaside. Which makes this Pisces happiest.

  14. You’re making me jealous! I’ve been living inland all my life and I’m missing the sea something fiercely! It’s time for me to plan a trip asap.

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