The Auckland urban area ranges to Waiwera in the north, Kumeu in the northwest, and Runciman in the south. 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 surrounding hills are covered in rainforest and the landscape is dotted with dozens of dormant volcanic cones. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and the Waitematā Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. Auckland is one of the few cities in the world to have a harbour on each of two separate major bodies of water.
The isthmus on which Auckland resides was first settled around 1350 and was valued for its rich and fertile land. The Māori population in the area is estimated to have peaked at 20,000 before the arrival of Europeans. After a British colony was established in 1840, William Hobson, then Governor of New Zealand, chose the area as his new capital. He named the area for George Eden, Earl of Auckland, British First Lord of the Admiralty. It was replaced as the capital in 1865, but immigration to the new city stayed strong, and it has remained the country's most populous urban area. Today, Auckland's central business district is the major financial centre of New Zealand.
Auckland is classified as a Beta + World City because of its importance in commerce, the arts, and education. The University of Auckland, established in 1883, is the largest university in New Zealand. Landmarks such as the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the Harbour Bridge, the Sky Tower, and many museums, parks, restaurants, and theatres are among the city's significant tourist attractions. Auckland Airport handles around one million international passengers a month. Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world, Auckland is ranked third on the 2016 Mercer Quality of Living Survey, making it one of the most liveable cities.
The isthmus was settled by Māori circa 1350, and was valued for its rich and fertile land. Many pā (fortified villages) were created, mainly on the volcanic peaks. The Māori population in the area is estimated to have been about 20,000 before the arrival of Europeans. The introduction of firearms at the end of the eighteenth century, which began in Northland, upset the balance of power and led to devastating intertribal warfare beginning in 1807, causing iwi who lacked the new weapons to seek refuge in areas less exposed to coastal raids. As a result, the region had relatively low numbers of Māori when European settlement of New Zealand began. However, there is nothing to suggest that this was the result of a deliberate European policy. On 27 January 1832, Joseph Brooks Weller, eldest of the Weller brothers of Otago and Sydney, bought land including the site of the modern city of Auckland, the North Shore, and part of Rodney District for "one large cask of powder" from "Cohi Rangatira".
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 and named it for George Eden, Earl of Auckland, then Viceroy of India. The land that Auckland was established on was given to the Governor by a local iwi, Ngāti Whātua, as a sign of goodwill and in the hope that the building of a city would attract commercial and political opportunities for iwi. Auckland was officially declared New Zealand's capital in 1841, and the transfer of the administration from Russell (now Old Russell) in the Bay of Islands was completed in 1842. However, even in 1840 Port Nicholson (later Wellington) was seen as a better choice for an administrative capital because of its proximity to the South Island, and Wellington became the capital in 1865. After losing its status as capital, Auckland remained the principal city of the Auckland Province until the provincial system was abolished in 1876.
In response to the ongoing rebellion by Hone Heke in the mid-1840s, the government encouraged retired but fit British soldiers and their families to migrate to Auckland to form a defence line around the port settlement as garrison soldiers. By the time the first Fencibles arrived in 1848, the rebels in the north had been defeated. Outlying defensive towns were then constructed to the south, stretching in a line from the port village of Onehunga in the West to Howick in the east. Each of the four settlements had about 800 settlers; the men were fully armed in case of emergency, but spent nearly all their time breaking in the land and establishing roads.
In the early 1860s, Auckland became a base against the Māori King Movement, and the 12,000 Imperial soldiers stationed there led to a strong boost to local commerce. This, and continued road building towards the south into the Waikato, enabled Pākehā (European New Zealanders) influence to spread from Auckland. The city's population grew fairly rapidly, from 1,500 in 1841 to 3,635 in 1845, then to 12,423 by 1864. The growth occurred similarly to other mercantile-dominated cities, mainly around the port and with problems of overcrowding and pollution. Auckland's population of ex-soldiers was far greater than that of other settlements: about 50 per cent of the population was Irish, which contrasted heavily with the majority English settlers in Wellington, Christchurch or New Plymouth. Most of the Irish (though not all) were from Protestant Ulster. The majority of settlers in the early period were assisted by receiving cheap passage to New Zealand.
Trams and railway lines shaped Auckland's rapid expansion in the early first half of the 20th century, but soon afterward the dominance of the motor vehicle emerged. This has not abated: arterial roads and motorways have become both defining and geographically dividing features of the urban landscape. They also allowed further massive expansion that resulted in the growth of urban areas such as the North Shore (especially after the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the late 1950s), and Manukau City in the south.
Economic deregulation in the mid-1980s led to dramatic changes to Auckland's economy and many companies relocated their head offices from Wellington to Auckland. The region was now the nerve centre of the national economy. Auckland also benefited from a surge in tourism, which brought 75per cent of New Zealand's international visitors through its airport. In 2004, Auckland's port handled 43 per cent of the country's container trade.
The face of urban Auckland changed when the government's immigration policy began allowing immigrants from Asia in 1986. According to the 1961 census data, Māori and Pacific Islanders comprised 5 per cent of Auckland's population; Asians less than 1 per cent. By 2006 the Asian population had reached 18.0 per cent in Auckland, and 36.2 per cent in the central city. New arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea gave a distinctive character to the areas where they clustered, while a range of other immigrants introduced mosques, Hindu temples, halal butchers and ethnic restaurants to the suburbs. The assertiveness of Pacific Island street culture and the increasing political influence of ethnic groups contributes to the city's multicultural vitality.
Auckland lies on and around an isthmus, less than two 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: Waitematā Harbour to the north, which opens east to the Hauraki Gulf and thence to the Pacific Ocean, and Manukau Harbour to the south, which opens west to the Tasman Sea. The total coastline of Auckland is 3,702 kilometres (2,300 mi) long.
Bridges span parts of both harbours, notably the Auckland Harbour Bridge crossing the Waitematā Harbour west of the Auckland Central Business District (CBD). The Mangere Bridge and the Upper Harbour Bridge span the upper reaches of the Manukau and Waitematā Harbours, respectively. In earlier times, portage paths crossed the narrowest sections of the isthmus.
Several islands of the Hauraki Gulf are administered as part of Auckland, though they are not part of the Auckland metropolitan area. Parts of Waiheke Island effectively function as Auckland suburbs, while various smaller islands near Auckland are mostly zoned 'recreational open space' or are nature sanctuaries.
Auckland also has a total length of approximately 21,000 kilometres (13,000 mi) of rivers and streams, about 8 per cent of these in urban areas.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Auckland has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb), while according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), its climate is classified as subtropical with warm humid summers and mild damp winters. It is the warmest main centre of New Zealand and is also one of the sunniest, with an average of 2,003.1 sunshine hours per annum. The average daily maximum temperature is 23.7 °C (74.7 °F) in February and 14.7 °C (58.5 °F) in July. The absolute maximum recorded temperature is 34.4 °C (93.9 °F), while the absolute minimum is −3.9 °C (25.0 °F). High levels of rainfall occur almost year-round with an average of 1,115.5 mm (43.92 in) per year.
Snowfall is extremely rare: the most significant fall since the start of the 20th century was on 27 July 1939, when snow stuck to the clothes of people outdoors just before dawn and five centimetres of snow reportedly lay on the summit of Mt Eden. Snowflakes were also seen on 28 July 1930 and 15 August 2011. The 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...".
Auckland occasionally suffers from air pollution due to fine particle emissions. There are also occasional breaches of guideline levels of carbon monoxide. While maritime winds normally disperse the pollution relatively quickly it can sometimes become visible as smog, especially on calm winter days.
Auckland straddles the Auckland volcanic field, which has produced about 90 volcanic eruptions from 50 volcanoes in the last 90,000 years. It is the only city in the world built on a basaltic volcanic field that is still active. It is estimated that the field will stay active for about 1 million years. Surface features include cones, lakes, lagoons, islands and depressions, and several have produced extensive lava flows. Some of the cones and flows have been partly or completely quarried away. The individual volcanoes are all considered extinct, although the volcanic field itself is merely dormant. The trend is for the latest eruptions to occur in the north west of the field. Auckland has at least 14 large lava tube caves which run from the volcanoes down towards the sea. Some are several kilometres long. A new suburb, Stonefields, has been built in an excavated lava flow, north west of Maungarei / Mount Wellington, that was previously used as a quarry by Winstones.
Auckland's volcanoes are fuelled entirely by basaltic magma, unlike the explosive subduction-driven volcanism in the central North Island, such as at Mount Ruapehu and Lake Taupo which are of tectonic origin. 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 some 700 years ago. Rangitoto's size, its symmetry, its position guarding the entrance to Waitematā Harbour and its visibility from many parts of the Auckland region make it Auckland's most iconic natural feature. Few birds and insects inhabit the island because of the rich acidic soil and the type of flora growing out of the rocky soil.
The Auckland metropolitan area has a population of 1,534,700 people according to Statistics New Zealand's June 2017 estimate, which is 32.0 per cent of New Zealand's population. Many ethnic groups from all corners of the world have a presence in Auckland, making it by far the country's most cosmopolitan city. Europeans make up the majority of Auckland's population, however substantial numbers of Māori, Pacific Islander and Asian peoples exist as well. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
As at the 2013 New Zealand census, 59.3 per cent of Aucklanders identified as of European ethnicity, 23.1 per cent as Asian, 14.6 per cent as Pacific peoples, 10.7 per cent as Māori, 1.9 per cent as Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, and 1.2 per cent as another ethnicity (mainly 'New Zealander').
Auckland's population is predominantly of European origin, though the proportion of those of Asian or other non-European origins has increased in recent decades due to immigration and the removal of restrictions directly or indirectly based on race. Immigration to New Zealand is heavily concentrated towards Auckland (partly for job market reasons). 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. Immigration from overseas into Auckland is partially offset by net emigration of people from Auckland to other regions of New Zealand, mainly Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
At the 2013 Census, 39.1 per cent of Auckland's population were born overseas; in the local board areas of Puketapapa and Howick, overseas-born residents outnumbered those born in New Zealand. Auckland is home to over half (51.6 per cent) of New Zealand's overseas born population, including 72 per cent of the country's Pacific Island-born population, 64 per cent of its Asian-born population, and 56 per cent of its Middle Eastern and African born population.
Around 48.5 per cent of Aucklanders at the 2013 census affiliated with Christianity and 11.7 per cent affiliated with non-Christian religions, while 37.8 per cent of the population were irreligious and 3.8 per cent objected to answering. Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination with 13.3 per cent affiliating, followed by Anglicanism (9.1 per cent) and Presbyterianism (7.4 per cent).
Recent immigration from Asia has added to the religious diversity of the city, increasing the number of people affiliating with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism, although there are no figures on religious attendance. There is also a small, long-established Jewish community.
Auckland is experiencing substantial population growth via natural population increases (one-third of growth) and immigration (two-thirds), and is set to grow to an estimated 1.9 million inhabitants by 2031 in a medium-variant scenario. This substantial increase in population will have a major impact on transport, housing and other infrastructure that are, particularly in the case of housing, already considered under pressure. The high-variant scenario shows the region's population growing to over two million by 2031.
In July 2016, Auckland Council released, as the outcome of a three-year study and public hearings, its Unitary Plan for Auckland. The plan aims to free up to 30 per cent more land for housing and allows for greater intensification of the existing urban area, creating 422,000 new dwellings in the next 30 years.
Auckland's lifestyle is influenced by the fact that while it is 70 per cent rural in land area, 90 per cent of Aucklanders live in urban areas – though large parts of these areas have a more suburban character than many cities in Europe and Asia.
Positive aspects of Auckland life are its mild climate, plentiful employment and educational opportunities, as well as numerous leisure facilities. Meanwhile, traffic problems, 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, together with crime. Nonetheless, Auckland ranked 3rd in a survey of the quality of life of 215 major cities of the world (2015 data). In 2006, Auckland placed 23rd on the UBS list of the world's richest cities.
In 2010, Auckland was ranked by the Mercer consulting firm as 149th of 214 centres on a scale of cost of living, i.e. making it among the most affordable cities worldwide to live in, with living expense of $20,000 per year, based on the comparative cost of 200 aspects of life including housing, transport, food, clothing, and household goods.
One of Auckland's nicknames, the "City of Sails", is derived from the popularity of sailing in the region. 135,000 yachts and launches are registered in Auckland, and around 60,500 of the country's 149,900 registered yachtsmen are from Auckland, with about one in three Auckland households owning a boat. The Viaduct Basin, on the western edge of the CBD, hosted two America's Cup challenges (2000 Cup and 2003 Cup).
The Waitematā Harbour is home to several notable yacht clubs and marinas, including the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Westhaven Marina, the largest of the Southern Hemisphere. The Waitematā Harbour has several popular swimming beaches, including Mission Bay and Kohimarama on the south side of the harbour, and Stanley Bay on the north side. On the eastern coastline of the North Shore, where the Rangitoto Channel divides the inner Hauraki Gulf islands from the mainland, there are excellent swimming beaches at Cheltenham and Narrow Neck in Devonport, Takapuna, Milford, and the various beaches further north in the area known as East Coast Bays. The west coast has popular surf spots such as Piha, Muriwai and Bethells Beach. The Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Orewa, Omaha and Pakiri, to the north of the main urban area, are also popular. Many Auckland beaches are patrolled by surf lifesaving clubs, such as Piha Surf Life Saving Club the home of Piha Rescue. All surf lifesaving clubs are part of the Surf Life Saving Northern Region.
Queen Street, Britomart, Ponsonby Road, Karangahape Road, Newmarket and Parnell are popular retail areas, whilst the Otara and Avondale fleamarkets offer an alternative shopping experience on weekend mornings. Most shopping malls are located in the middle- and outer-suburbs, with Sylvia Park and Westfield Albany being the largest.
A number of arts events are held in Auckland, including the Auckland Festival, the Auckland Triennial, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and the New Zealand International Film Festival. The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra is the city and region's resident full-time symphony orchestra, performing its own series of concerts and accompanying opera and ballet. Events celebrating the city's cultural diversity include the Pasifika Festival, Polyfest, and the Auckland Lantern Festival, all of which are the largest of their kind in New Zealand. Additionally, Auckland regularly hosts the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet.
Important institutions include the Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Maritime Museum, National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, and the Museum of Transport and Technology. The Auckland Art Gallery is considered the home of the visual arts in New Zealand with a collection of over 15,000 artworks, including prominent New Zealand and Pacific Island artists, as well as international painting, sculpture and print collections ranging in date from 1376 to the present day. In 2009 the Gallery was promised a gift of fifteen works of art by New York art collectors and philanthropists Julian and Josie Robertson – including well-known paintings by Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin and Piet Mondrian. This is the largest gift ever made to an art museum in Australasia.
Auckland Domain is one of the largest parks in the city, close to the Auckland CBD and having a good view of the Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island. Smaller parks close to the city centre are Albert Park, Myers Park, Western Park and Victoria Park.
While most volcanic cones in the Auckland volcanic field have been affected by quarrying, many of the remaining cones are now within parks, and retain a more natural character than the surrounding city. Prehistoric earthworks and historic fortifications are in several of these parks, including Maungawhau / Mount Eden, North Head and Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill.
Other parks around the city are in Western Springs, which has a large park bordering the MOTAT museum and the Auckland Zoo. The Auckland Botanic Gardens are further south, in Manurewa.
Ferries provide transport to parks and nature reserves at Devonport, Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island and Tiritiri Matangi. The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park to the west of Auckland offers beautiful and relatively unspoiled bush territory, as do the Hunua Ranges to the south.
Rugby union, cricket, rugby league, football and netball are widely played and followed. Auckland has a considerable number of rugby union and cricket grounds, and venues for basketball, motorsports, tennis, badminton, netball, swimming, soccer, rugby league, and many other sports.
Annual sporting events include:
Auckland hosted the 1950 British Empire Games and the 14th Commonwealth Games in 1990, and hosted a number of matches (including the semi-finals and the final) of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final events were held in the Auckland CBD in October 2012. The 2013 Series kicks off in April in Auckland and will continue there yearly for at least 3 more years.
Auckland hosted the 2017 World Masters Games between 21 and 30 April 2017.
The NRL Auckland Nines was a rugby league nines preseason competition played at Eden Park from 2014 to 2017.
Auckland is the major economic and financial centre of New Zealand. The city's economy is based largely on services and commerce. Most major international corporations have an Auckland office; the most expensive office space is around lower Queen Street and the Viaduct Basin in the Auckland CBD, where many financial and business services are located, which make up a large percentage of the CBD economy.
The largest commercial and industrial areas of the Auckland Region are in the southeast of Auckland City and the western parts of Manukau City, mostly bordering the Manukau Harbour and the Tamaki River estuary.
According to the 2013 census, the primary employment industries of Auckland residents are professional, scientific and technical services (11.4 per cent), manufacturing (9.9 per cent), retail trade (9.7 per cent), health care and social assistance (9.1 per cent), and education and training (8.3 per cent). Manufacturing is the largest employer in the Henderson-Massey, Howick, Mangere-Otahuhu, Otara-Papatoetoe, Manurewa and Papakura local board areas, retail trade is the largest employer in the Whau local board are, while professional, scientific and technical services are the largest employer in the remaining urban local board areas.
The sub-national GDP of the Auckland region was estimated at NZ$93.5 billion in 2016, 37.2 per cent of New Zealand's national GDP. The per-capita GDP of Auckland was estimated at NZ$58,717, the third-highest in the country after the Taranaki and Wellington regions, and above the national average of NZ$54,178.
In 2014, the median personal income (for all persons older than 15 years of age, per year) in Auckland was estimated at NZ$41,860, behind only Wellington.
The Auckland urban area has 340 primary schools, 80 secondary schools, and 29 composite (primary/secondary combined) schools as of February 2012, catering for nearly quarter of a million students. The majority are state schools, but 63 schools are state-integrated and 39 are private.
The city is home to some of the largest schools in New Zealand, including Rangitoto College in the East Coast Bays area, the largest school in New Zealand with 3191 students as of July 2017.
Auckland has a number of important educational institutions, including some of the largest universities in the country. Auckland is a major centre of overseas language education, with large numbers of foreign students (particularly East Asians) coming to the city for several months or years to learn English or study at universities – although numbers New Zealand-wide have dropped substantially since peaking in 2003. As of 2007, there are around 50 New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) certified schools and institutes teaching English in the Auckland area.
Amongst the more important tertiary educational institutes are the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, Massey University, Manukau Institute of Technology and Unitec New Zealand.
Housing varies considerably between some suburbs having state owned housing in the lower income neighbourhoods, to palatial waterfront estates, especially in areas close to the Waitematā Harbour. Traditionally, the most common residence of Aucklanders was a standalone dwelling on a 'quarter acre' (1,000 m²). However, subdividing such properties with 'infill housing' has long been the norm. Auckland's housing stock has become more diverse in recent decades, with many more apartments being built since the 1970s – particularly since the 1990s in the CBD. Nevertheless, the majority of Aucklanders live in single dwelling housing and are expected to continue to do so – even with most of future urban growth being through intensification.
Auckland's housing is amongst the least affordable in the world, based on comparing average house prices with average household income levels and house prices have grown well above the rate of inflation in recent decades. In February 2017, Quotable Value reported the average house price for Auckland metro was $1,044,000, compared with $590,000 in Wellington metro, $532,000 in Hamilton, $499,000 in Christchurch, and $158,500 in the Ruapehu District (the area with the lowest average house price in New Zealand). There is significant public debate around why Auckland's housing is so expensive, often referring to a lack of land supply, the easy availability of credit for residential investment and Auckland's high level of livability.
In some areas, the Victorian villas have been torn down to make way for redevelopment. The demolition of the older houses is being combated through increased heritage protection for older parts of the city. Auckland has been described as having 'the most extensive range of timbered housing with its classical details and mouldings in the world', many of them Victorian-Edwardian style houses.
Towards the end of the first decade after 2000, a housing crisis began in Auckland with the market not being able to sustain the demand for affordable homes. The Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 mandated that a minimum of 10 per cent of new builds in certain housing areas be subsidized to make them affordable for buyers who had incomes on par with the national average. In a new subdivision at Hobsonville Point, 20 per cent of new homes were reduced to below $550,000. Some of the demand for new housing at this time was attributed to the 43,000 people who moved into Auckland between June 2014 and June 2015.
The Auckland Council is the local council with jurisdiction over the city of Auckland, along with surrounding rural areas, parkland, and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
From 1989 to 2010 Auckland was governed by several separate city and district councils. In the late 2000s (decade), New Zealand's central government and parts of Auckland's society felt that this large number of councils, and the lack of strong regional government (with the Auckland Regional Council having only limited powers) were hindering Auckland's progress. A Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was set up in 2007, and in 2009 recommended a unified local governance structure for Auckland, amalgamating the councils. Government subsequently announced that a "super city" would be set up with a single mayor by the time of New Zealand's local body elections in 2010. Many aspects of the reorganisation were or are still controversial, from matters such as the form of representation for Maori, the inclusion or exclusion of rural council areas in the city, to the role of council-controlled organisations that are intended to place much of the day-to-day business of council services at arms length from the elected Council.
In October 2010, Manukau City mayor Len Brown was elected mayor of the amalgamated Auckland Council. He was re-elected for a second term in October 2013. Brown did not stand for re-election in the 2016 mayoral election, and was succeeded by successful candidate Phil Goff in October 2016. Twenty councillors make up the remainder of the Auckland Council governing body, elected from thirteen electoral wards.
Between 1842 and 1865, Auckland was the capital city of New Zealand. Parliament met in what is now Old Government House on the University of Auckland's City campus. The capital was moved to the more centrally located Wellington in 1865.
Auckland, because of its large population, is covered by 22 general electorates and three Maori electorates, each returning one member to the New Zealand House of Representatives. The governing National Party holds thirteen general electorates, the opposing Labour Party holds eight general electorates and all three Maori electorates, and ACT holds the remaining electorate (Epsom).
In addition, there are a varying number of Auckland-based List MPs, who are elected via party lists. As of December 2015, there are twelve list MPs in the House who contested Auckland-based electorates at the 2014 election: six from National, four from Green, and one each from Labour and New Zealand First.
The administrative offices of the Government of the Pitcairn Islands is situated in Auckland.
Private vehicles are the main form of transportation within Auckland, with around 7 per cent of journeys in the Auckland region undertaken by bus in 2006, and 2 per cent undertaken by train and ferry. For trips to the city centre at peak times the use of public transport is much higher, with more than half of trips undertaken by bus, train or ferry. Auckland still ranks quite low in its use of public transport, having only 46 public transport trips per capita per year, while Wellington has almost twice this number at 91, and Sydney has 114 trips. This strong roading focus results in substantial traffic congestion during peak times.
Bus services in Auckland are mostly radial, with few cross-town routes. Late-night services (i.e. past midnight) are limited, even on weekends. A major overhaul of Auckland's bus services is being implemented during 2016–17, significantly expanding the reach of "frequent" bus services: those that operate at least every 15 minutes during the day and early evening, every day of the week.
Rail services operate along four lines between the CBD and the west, south and south-east of Auckland, with longer-distance trains operating to Wellington only a few times each week. Following the opening of Britomart Transport Centre in 2003, major investment in Auckland's rail network occurred, involving station upgrades, rolling stock refurbishment and infrastructure improvements. The rail upgrade has included electrification of Auckland's rail network, with electric trains constructed by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles commencing service in April 2014. A number of proposed projects to further extend Auckland's rail network were included in the 2012 Auckland Plan, including the City Rail Link, rail to Auckland Airport, the Avondale-Southdown Line and rail to the North Shore.
Auckland's ports are the second largest of the country, behind the Port of Tauranga, and a large part of both inbound and outbound New Zealand commerce travels through them, mostly via the facilities northeast of Auckland CBD. Freight usually arrives at or is distributed from the port via road, though the port facilities also have rail access. Auckland is a major cruise ship stopover point, with the ships usually tying up at Princes Wharf. Auckland CBD is connected to coastal suburbs, to the North Shore and to outlying islands by ferry.
Auckland has various small regional airports and Auckland Airport, the busiest of the country. Auckland Airport, New Zealand's largest, is in the southern suburb of Mangere on the shores of the Manukau Harbour. There are frequent services to Australia, and to other New Zealand destinations. There are also direct connections to many locations in the South Pacific, as well as the United States, Asia, Vancouver, London, Santiago and Buenos Aires. In terms of international flights, Auckland is the second-best connected city in Oceania.
Research at Griffith University has indicated that in the last 50 years, Auckland has engaged in some of the most pro-automobile transport policies anywhere in the world. With public transport declining heavily during the second half of the 20th century (a trend mirrored in most Western countries such as the US), and increased spending on roads and cars, New Zealand (and specifically Auckland) now has the second-highest vehicle ownership rate in the world, with around 578 vehicles per 1000 people. Auckland has also been called a very pedestrian- and cyclist-unfriendly city, though some efforts are being made to change this, with Auckland being a major participant in the government's "Urban Cycleways" initiative, and with the "SkyPath" project for a walk and cycleway on the Auckland Harbour Bridge having received Council support, and planning consent.
The State Highway network connects the different parts of Auckland, with State Highway 1 being the major north-south thoroughfare through the city (including both the Northern and Southern Motorways) and the main connection to the adjoining regions of Northland and Waikato. The Northern Busway runs alongside part of the Northern Motorway on the North Shore. Other state highways within Auckland include State Highway 16 (the Northwest Motorway), State Highway 18 (the Upper Harbour Motorway) and State Highway 20 (the Southwest Motorway). State Highway 22 is a non-motorway rural arterial connecting Pukekohe to the Southern Motorway at Drury.
The Auckland Harbour Bridge, opened in 1959, is the main connection between the North Shore and the rest of the Auckland metropolitan area. The bridge provides eight lanes of vehicle traffic and has a moveable median barrier for lane flexibility, but does not provide access for rail, pedestrians or cyclists. The Central Motorway Junction, also called 'Spaghetti Junction' for its complexity, is the intersection between the two major motorways of Auckland (State Highway 1 and State Highway 16).
Two of the longest arterial roads within the Auckland Region are Great North Road and Great South Road – the main connections in those directions before the construction of the State Highway network. Numerous arterial roads also provide regional and sub-regional connectivity, with many of these roads (especially on the isthmus) previously used to operate Auckland's former tram network.
Auckland has four railway lines (Western, Onehunga, Eastern and Southern). These lines serve the western, southern and eastern parts of Auckland from the Britomart Transport Centre in downtown Auckland, the terminal station for all lines, where connections are also available to ferry and bus services. Work began in late 2015 to provide more route flexibility and connect Britomart more directly to western suburbs on the Western Line via an underground rail tunnel known as the City Rail Link project.
Auckland is New Zealand's largest electricity consumer, and uses around 20 per cent of the country's total electricity each year. Vector, which operates the majority of Auckland's local distribution system, measured maximum demand to be 1722 MW in 2011, with 8679 GWh delivered.
There are no electricity generation stations located within the city. There were two natural gas-fired power stations (the 380 MW Otahuhu B owned by Contact Energy and the 175 Southdown owned by Mighty River Power) have been shut down. Since there is very little generation north of Auckland, almost all of the electricity for Auckland and Northland must be transmitted from power stations in the south, mainly from Huntly Power Station and the Waikato River hydroelectric stations.
Transpower owns the national grid and is responsible for the high voltage transmission lines into and across Auckland. Five major 220 kV transmission lines connect Auckland with the Waikato, terminating into Otahuhu and Brownhill substations. The sub-transmission and distribution network in the Auckland region is mostly owned by Vector. The network south of central Papakura is owned by Counties Power.
There have been several notable power outages in Auckland. The five-week-long 1998 Auckland power crisis blacked out much of the CBD after a cascade failure occurred on four underground cables in Mercury Energy's sub-transmission network. The 2006 Auckland Blackout interrupted supply to the CBD and many inner suburbs after an earth wire shackle at Transpower's Otahuhu substation broke and short-circuited the lines supplying the inner city. In 2009, much of the northern and western suburbs, as well as all of Northland, experienced a blackout when a forklift accidentally came into contact with the Otahuhu to Henderson 220 kV line, the only major line supplying the region. Transpower spent $1.25 billion in the early 2010s reinforcing the supply into and across Auckland, including a 400 kV-capable transmission line from the Waikato River to Brownhill substation (operated at 220 kV initially), and 220 kV underground cables between Brownhill and Pakuranga, and between Pakuranga and Albany via the CBD. These reduced the Auckland Region's reliance on Otahuhu substation and northern and western Auckland's reliance on the Otahuhu to Henderson line.
Auckland was one of the original nine towns and cities in New Zealand to be supplied with natural gas when the Kapuni gas field entered production in 1970 and a 340 km long high pressure pipeline from the field in Taranaki to the city was completed. Auckland was connected to the Maui gas field in 1982 following the completion of a high pressure pipeline from the Maui gas pipeline near Huntly, via the city, to Whangarei in Northland.
The high pressure transmission pipelines supplying the city are now owned and operated by First Gas, with Vector owning and operating the medium and low pressure distribution pipelines in the city.
Tourism in Auckland yields strong revenue for the New Zealand economy. Tourist attractions and landmarks in the Auckland metropolitan area include: