Population: 1,241,6001
Area: 1,086 km² (419 sq mi)
Location: [1]
Mayor: Multiple, including Dick Hubbard, Sir Barry Curtis, Bob Harvey, John Law, George Wood
Urban Area
Extent: North to Waiwera,
northwest to Kumeu,
east to Maraetai,
south to Drury and Runciman;
excludes Waitakere Ranges
& Hauraki Gulf Islands
Territorial Authorities
Names: Auckland City
North Shore City

Urban parts of Waitakere City and Manukau City
Papakura District
Some parts of Rodney District and Franklin District

Regional Council: Auckland
1Statistics New Zealand estimated resident population, Auckland Urban Area, 30 June 2005.
Schematic map of Auckland.
Schematic map of Auckland.

The Auckland metropolitan area or Greater Auckland, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest urban area of the country. With over 1.2 million people it has over a quarter of the country's population, and demographic trends indicate that it will continue growing faster than the rest of the country.

It is a conurbation, made up of Auckland City (excluding the Hauraki Gulf islands), North Shore City, and the urban parts of Waitakere and Manukau cities, along with Papakura District and some nearby urban parts of Rodney and Franklin Districts. In Māori its name is Tāmaki Makau Rau, or the transcribed version of Auckland, Ākarana.

Auckland lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the south-east, the Manukau Harbour to the south-west, and the Waitakere Ranges and smaller ranges to the west and north-west. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the few cities in the world to have harbours on two separate bodies of water.




Main article History of Auckland

Early settlers

The isthmus was first settled around 1350 and was valued for its rich and fertile land. Many pa (fortified villages) were created, mainly on the volcanic peaks. Māori population is estimated to have peaked at 20,000 before the arrival of Europeans. This event - and the guns which they traded to local iwi - upset the local power balances. This resulted in extensive inter-tribal warfare, which together with some introduced plagues resulted in the area having relatively low numbers of Māori when European settlement in New Zealand started in earnest (there is however no indication that this was the result of a deliberate European policy).


Birth of the city

After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840 the new Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson chose the area as his new capital. However, even in 1840, Port Nicholson (later Wellington), was seen as a better choice for an administrative capital, due to its closeness to the South Island, which was being settled much faster.

Nonetheless, even after losing its status as capital in 1865, immigration to the new city stayed strong.


Growth up to today

Becoming a base against the Māori King Movement in the early 1860s, and continued road building towards the south into the Waikato, enabled Pākehā (White New Zealanders) influence to spread out from Auckland. It also grew fairly rapidly, from 1,500 in 1841 to 12,423 by 1864. The growth occurred similarly to other mercantile-dominated cities, mainly around the port, and with many of the problems of overcrowding and pollution common to it.

Trams and railway lines shaped Aucklands rapid extension in the early first half of the 20th century, but soon after the dominance of the motor vehicle emerged and has not abated since, with arterial roads and motorways becoming a defining (and geographically dividing) feature of the urban landscape. They also allowed further massive expansion, resulting in the growth of associated urban areas like the North Shore (especially after the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and Manukau City in the south.

A large percentage of Auckland is dominated by a very suburban style of building, giving the city a very low population density: although it has not much more than a seventh of the population of London, it sprawls over a considerably larger area - a fact that serves to make public transport by Auckland's rail and bus systems unpopular and uneconomic (car usage costs fall slightly with decreasing urban density, while public transport costs rise sharply, even if less capital-intensive types like bus services are used in the less dense zones).[2]


Future growth

Auckland's problems with urban sprawl, due to rapid population growth and its car-centred transportation system, are now slowly being addressed in planning. As Auckland is set to grow to an estimated 2 million inhabitants by 2050, a Regional Growth Strategy has been adopted that sees limits on further subdivision and intensification of existing use as its main sustainability measures.[3]


Geography and climate

Nearing Rangitoto from Auckland.
Nearing Rangitoto from Auckland.


Auckland straddles the volcanoes of the Auckland Volcanic Field. The 50 volcanic vents in the field take the form of cones, lakes, lagoons, islands and depressions, and several have produced extensive lava flows. Most of the cones have been partly or completely quarried away. The individual volcanoes are all extinct, although the volcanic field itself is merely dormant.

The most recent and by far the largest volcano, Rangitoto Island, was formed within the last 1000 years, and its eruptions destroyed the Māori settlements on neighbouring Motutapu Island. Rangitoto's size, its symmetry, its position guarding the entrance to Waitemata Harbour and its visibility from many parts of the Auckland region make it Auckland's most iconic natural feature. It is eerily quiet as almost no birds and insects have settled on the island because of the rich acidic soil and type of flora that has adapted to grow out of the black broken rocky soil.


Hauraki Gulf islands

Several islands of the Hauraki Gulf are administered as part of Auckland City, though they are not officially part of the Auckland metropolitan area. Parts of Waiheke Island effectively function as Auckland suburbs, while various smaller islands near Auckland are mostly recreational open space or nature sanctuaries.


Isthmus and harbours

Auckland CBD seen from across Okahu Bay.
Auckland CBD seen from across Okahu Bay.

Auckland lies on and around an isthmus, less than 2 kilometres wide at its narrowest point, between Mangere Inlet and the Tamaki River. There are two harbours in the Auckland urban area surrounding this isthmus, Waitemata Harbour to the north, which opens east to the Hauraki Gulf, and Manukau Harbour to the south, which opens west to the Tasman Sea.

Bridges span parts of both these harbours, notably the Auckland Harbour Bridge crossing the Waitemata Harbour west of the Auckland CBD. The upper reaches of the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours are spanned by Mangere Bridge and the Upper Harbour Bridge respectively. In earlier times, portage paths crossed the narrowest sections of the isthmus.



Auckland CBD from the top of the Mt Eden volcanic cone.
Auckland CBD from the top of the Mt Eden volcanic cone.

Auckland has a warm-temperate climate, with warm, humid summers and mild, damp winters. Temperatures are moderated by the primarily coastal climate, but the sun is often quite intense from September to March. January temperatures average 21-24°C. February can be warmer than January, but temperatures rarely exceed 30°C[4] July maximum temperatures average 14-16°C. High levels of rainfall occur almost year-round (an average of 1249 mm per year), especially in winter. Climatic conditions vary in different parts of the city owing to geography such as hills, land cover and distance from the sea. On 27 July 1939 Auckland received its only snow fall in recorded history.[5] This is unlike South Island cities like Christchurch, which regularly gets snow down to sea level.

The unusual early morning calm on the isthmus during settled weather, before the sea breeze rises, was described as early as 1853: "In all seasons, the beauty of the day is in the early morning. At that time, generally, a solemn stillness holds, and a perfect calm prevails..." Many Aucklanders use this time of day to walk and run in parks.[6]

As car ownership rates are very high and emissions controls relatively weak, Auckland suffers from an elevated level of air pollution. This can sometimes be visible as smog, especially on calm winter days. However, the maritime local climate ensures that most pollution is eventually dispersed, and thus the smog never reaches levels as seen, for example, in Los Angeles or Mexico City.





Auckland CBD at night, with the Captain Cook Wharf part of the port in the foreground.
Auckland CBD at night, with the Captain Cook Wharf part of the port in the foreground.
Main article Culture of New Zealand

Auckland serves as a home to many cultures. The majority of inhabitants claim European - predominantly British - descent, but substantial Māori, Pacific Islander and Asian communities exist as well. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.

A large proportion of the population is made up of people of Asian origin (mainly East Asian and South Asian). This is due to New Zealand's world-leading level of immigration, which flows primarily into Auckland. Ethnic groups from all corners of the world have a presence in Auckland, making it by far the country's most cosmopolitan city. It is estimated that over 14 people from other countries immigrate to Auckland every day. This strong focus on Auckland has led the immigration services to award extra points towards immigration visa requirements for people intending to move to other parts of New Zealand.

The 2001 and 2006 New Zealand Census showed that people in the Auckland Urban Area belonged to the following ethnic groups (percentages may not add up to 100%, as some people counted themselves as belonging to more than one ethnic group, while the major drop in the numbers of 'Europeans' was mainly caused by the high likelihood of this ethnic group to define themselves as 'New Zealanders', contrary to the wishes of the census organisers):

Ethnic Group 2001 (%) 2001 (people) 2006 (%) 2006 (people)
European 66.9 53.6 698,622
Pacific Island 14.9 13.7 177,936
Asian 14.6 18.0 234,222
Māori 11.5 10.5 137,133
Middle East/Latin America/Africa n/a n/a 1.4 18,555
Others 01.3 00.0 57
'New Zealanders' n/a n/a 11.1 145,000
Totals 109.2 1,241,600 (individuals) 108.3 1,303,068 (individuals)

The 2006 Census also provides information about the multilinguality of the region. Accordingly, 867,825 people in the Auckland Region spoke one language only, while 274,863 spoke two, and 44,712 could converse in three languages.[7]



Like the rest of the country, more than half of Aucklanders are nominally Christian, but fewer than 10% regularly attend church and almost 40% profess no religious affiliation (2001 census figures). The main denominations are Anglican, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. Pentecostal and charismatic churches are the fastest growing. The charismatic and fundamentalist Destiny Church, headquartered in Auckland, has gained headlines because of its political activities. A higher percentage of Polynesian immigrants are regular churchgoers than other Aucklanders, although church attendance drops off in second- or third-generation Polynesian Aucklanders. Other immigrant cultures have added to the religious diversity of the city, adding faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism to Auckland's religious landscape. There is also a small, long-established Jewish community. There is an even smaller Rationalist group.



Positive aspects of Auckland life are its mild climate, plentiful employment and educational opportunities, as well as numerous leisure facilities. Meanwhile, traffic problems (compared to other New Zealand cities), the lack of good public transport, and increasing housing costs have been cited by many Aucklanders as among the strongest negative factors of living there,[8] together with crime (which is still low for a city of its size [citation needed]). Nonetheless, Auckland currently ranks 5th behind Zürich and Geneva in a survey of the quality of life of the world's top 55 cities.[9] In 2006, Auckland placed 23rd on the UBS list of the world's richest cities.[10]



City Of Sails - View over the Westhaven Marina.
City Of Sails - View over the Westhaven Marina.

Auckland is popularly known as the "City of Sails" because the harbour is often dotted with hundreds of yachts and has more per capita than any other city in the world. Viaduct Basin hosted two America's Cup challenges, and its cafes, restaurants, and clubs add to Auckland's vibrant nightlife.

High Street, Queen Street, Ponsonby Road, and Karangahape Road are also very popular with urban socialites. Newmarket and Parnell are upmarket shopping centres. Otara's and Avondale's famous fleamarkets and Victoria Park Market are a colourful alternative shopping experience. There are major shopping malls at Sylvia Park, Botany Town Centre, Albany and St Lukes.

The Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Centre host conferences and cultural events such as theatre, kapa haka, and opera. Many national treasures are displayed at the Auckland Art Gallery, such as the work of Colin McCahon.

Other significant cultural artefacts reside at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the National Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). Exotic creatures can be observed at the Auckland Zoo and Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. Movies and rock concerts (notably, the "Big Day Out") are also well patronised.


Parks & Nature

Panoramic view over Auckland from Mount Eden.
Panoramic view over Auckland from Mount Eden.

Auckland Domain is one of the largest parks of the city, situated close to the CBD and having a good view of the bay and of Rangitoto island. Smaller parks also close to Queen Street are Victoria Park, Myers Park and Albert Park.

Most of the remaining volcanic cones are surrounded by parks, with notable examples including Mount Eden, Mount Victoria and One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie). Western Springs has a large park bordering on the MOTAT and the Zoo. The Auckland Botanical Gardens are well to the south of Auckland City.

Ferries provide transport to parks and nature reserves at Devonport, Waiheke Island and Rangitoto Island. The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park to the west of offers beautiful and relatively unspoiled 'bush' territory.



Auckland has its fair share of rugby and cricket grounds, and venues for motorsports, tennis, badminton, swimming, soccer, rugby league, and many other sports.

Waitemata Harbour has popular beaches at Mission Bay, Devonport, Takapuna, Long Bay and Maraetai, and the west coast has popular surf spots such as Piha and Muriwai. Many Auckland beaches are patrolled by surf lifesaving clubs, which are part of Surf Life Saving Northern Region.

Popular annual sporting events include:



The Sky Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 m.
The Sky Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 m.

Every business day, many professional and other service workers commute from all points of the region to downtown Auckland, often enduring long commuting times, drawn by and making Auckland City one of the best-earning cities in New Zealand with a median personal income per year of NZ$44,304 (approx US$30,000) for the region with CBD jobs often earning more (2005).[11] Median personal income (inlcuding all persons older than 15 years of age) per year was NZ$22,300 (2001),[12] behind only North Shore City (also part of the Greater Auckland area) and Wellington. While office workers still account for a large part of Auckland's commuters, large office developments in other parts of the city, for example in Takapuna, North Shore City, are becoming more common, reducing concentration on the Auckland CBD somewhat.

Most major international corporations have an Auckland office, as the city is seen as the economic capital of the nation - although firms increasingly run their New Zealand operations from Australia. The most expensive office space is around lower Queen Street and the Viaduct Basin. A large proportion of the technical and trades workforce is based in the industrial zones of South Auckland.

The largest commercial and industrial areas of Greater Auckland are in the southeast of Auckland City as well as in the western parts of Manukau City, mostly in the areas oriented towards the Manukau Harbour and the Tamaki River estuary.



Housing varies considerably between some suburbs having state owned housing in the lower income neighbourhoods, to palatial waterfront estates. The most common residence of Aucklanders is a bungalow on a "quarter acre" (1,000 m²), with the resulting large urban sprawl and reliance on motor vehicles. The regional council is trying to curb this trend, with housing density strategies such as more townhouses and apartments, and prohibiting subdivision of properties on the city fringes.

In some areas, the Victorian villas are being increasingly torn down to make way for large plaster mansions with tennis courts and swimming pools. The rampant demolition of the older properties is being combatted by the Auckland City Council passing laws that cover heritage suburbs or streets.



Main article Transport in Auckland

Vehicle transport

Auckland is highly dependent on private vehicles as the main form of transportation, to a level unusual for such a large city. This results in substantial traffic congestion during peak times, especially for New Zealand levels, though comparable to many other cities worldwide.

With public transport usage declining heavily during the second half of the 20th century, and increased spending on roading and motorways, New Zealand (and specifically Auckland) now has the second-highest vehicle ownership rate in the world, with around 578 vehicles per 1000 people.[13] This focus has been partly due to the low population density of the Auckland region (compared to most cities in Europe and Asia), and is further accentuated by the comparatively long travel distances on the isthmus. This results in public transport being less cost-effective compared to denser urban centres.

Partly as a result, Auckland suffers from associated problems such as chronic traffic congestion on the main routes, and vehicle-induced air pollution. Recent studies show that New Zealanders take fewer than 2% of all journeys by bus and only 1% of journeys by rail.[14]


Road network

The State Highway network connects the cities located in the Auckland urban area, the most frequently travelled being the Northern, Southern, Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways. The Auckland Harbour Bridge (Northern Motorway) is the main connection to North Shore City.

The Central Motorway Junction, also called 'Spaghetti Junction' for its complexity, forms the intersection between the two major motorways of Auckland (State Highway 1 and State Highway 16), and also provides various accesses from these routes to the city centre. It is located in a series of gullies and cuttings forming a semicircle around the southern end of the CBD. The Western Ring Route, a wide-area bypass of the Central Motorway Junction through southern Auckland, is currently under construction, though the completion of the project may easily be a decade away.

Main arterial roads within Greater Auckland are Great North Road and Great South Road - the main connections in those directions before the construction of the State Highway network.


Other travel modes

Public transport use is still very light in terms of the modal share, and remains widely unpopular and expensive in spite of recent increases in ridership and funding.


Attractions and landmarks

The following is a list of tourist attractions and landmarks in the Auckland metropolitan area:


See also



  1. GEOnet Names Server (GNS). Retrieved on August, 2006.
  2. Density of urban activity and journey costs - Vivier, Jean, UITP - Public Transport International 1/99
  3. From Urban Sprawl to Compact City: an analysis of Auckland's Urban Growth Management Strategies - Arbury, Joshua - MA Thesis, University of Auckland
  4. Summary, climate information for selected New Zealand locations. Retrieved on August, 2006.
  5. Snowstorms (pdf file). Retrieved on August, 2006.
  6. Auckland, the Capital of New Zealand - Swainson, William, Smith Elder, 1853
  7. Spread of languages marks broader culture - New Zealand Herald, Saturday 06 January 2007
  8. Central Transit Corridor Project (Auckland City website, includes mention of effects of transport on public satisfaction)
  9. Quality of life survey (Mercer Management Consulting)
  10. City Mayors: World's richest cities. Retrieved on August 20 06, {{{accessyear}}}.
  11. Auckland Regional Profile (from, composed from various sources)
  12. Comparison of New Zealand's cities (from ENZ emigration consulting)
  13. Sustainable Transport North Shore City Council website
  14. Interesting facts about New Zealand (from ENZ emigration consulting)

External links

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