Auckland City Guide

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Auckland City Guide

Well, I’m new to this “Wiki” business, but lets’ see if I can kick-start at least this one entry!!

Auckland is by far the largest city in New Zealand, is home to 35% of the population, 39% of jobs and produces 40% of the GDP (ref pending)

It is also the city where most migrants tend to settle, Immigration NZ estimates that over 60% of migrants to NZ settle in Auckland. Auckland thus has nearly double the ratio of migrants to the rest of New Zealand and is set to grow to an estimated 2 million inhabitants by 2050. This substantial increase in population will have a major impact on transport, housing and other infrastructure that is in many cases are already under pressure.

Just to confuse the newcomer, the name “Auckland” can refer to different places!!:

Auckland – the largest city in New Zealand

The Auckland Region - covers a huge area within the the boundaries of Wellsford (Northland) in the north to Pukekohe (Franklin District) to the South.

Auckland Council – otherwise known as the 'super city' since the amalgamation of the previous arrangements of four city councils in Auckland and includes the central metropolitan area, as well as the gulf islands including Waiheke Island and the three former regional councils of North Shore City (North Auckland), Waitakere (West Auckland) and Manukau City (South Auckland).

Auckland is very spread out for a city of 1.42m (2013 Census) people with very few high-rise buildings outside the CBD (Central Business District). The land area is also divided by several large inlets to the sea. At its narrowest point (between Otahuhu and Westfield towards the south), the sea to east & west is only 1.2 km apart!

Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.

Auckland ranks consistently highly in various Quality of Life surveys which compare cities around the world.


The main mode of transport is the car, much as there is a lot of promotion of public transport options. Cars are quite cheap to buy thanks to the secondhand Japanese import market. Roads, however are a problem, a combination of all that coastline, only two bridges, an incomplete motorway network, and limited public transport options. Result: long traffic jams on the motorways & main routes at peak hours.

You do need a car in Auckland, and probably one for each adult in the house. For travel to work, if you live near a ferry terminal and work regular hours in the CBD, the ferry can be an excellent way to avoid the traffic and parking charges. If you live and work near a railway station, the train service is improving.

Buses are the next public transport option. A lot of money & effort is being put into improving the bus service, but they can be infrequent and crowded on some routes. There is a free bus which circulates around the CBD and the Link bus which travels a loop around the CBD to Newmarket (bi-directional with buses every 20 minutes). There is also the new Albany Expressway, which is a bus lane on the main Northern Motorway running from Albany in the north of Auckland to the CBD.

There is a very good website Auckland MAXX which gives all the bus & train routes, timetables, fares etc.

When moving to Auckland, you do need to consider where you will work and live and how you will travel between the two, (possibly with school pick-up & drop-off as well). Distance is not the only consideration!

Where to Live?

Much will depend on where you will be working. It is a good idea to live as close as possible to the best transport option, whether that’s a ferry terminal, railway station, or main road/motorway. Unfortunately some of these options may prove to have a high price tag in terms of rent or property price.

As with anywhere it’s a very personal decision based on your individual circumstances, family, budget, interests etc.

As a very rough guide for someone new to Auckland, (with some shocking generalisations!):

North Shore : relatively affluent, popular with professionals as well as British and South African immigrants. Lots of beaches. Limited business but growing very fast, especially in Albany & North Harbour areas, mostly very light industry or commercial.

West: A bit more “working class” with a lot of tradespeople living there. Quite “green” & environmentally conscious.

Central: Varied affluence: some of Auckland wealthiest areas (e.g. St Heliers, Remuera) and some poor ones too. Most of Auckland’s commerce & industry is located in the CBD and in the Penrose/Mt Wellington areas. Popular with many immigrants.

East: Relatively affluent, popular with South African and Asian migrants. Limited industry.

South: relatively poorer, large Maori & Pacific Island populations. Larger manufacturing & industrial areas, with attendant populations of industrial & manual workers. Whilst there are some affluent pockets, please do your research as South Auckland's main claim to fame is gangs and crime!

Wikipedia Suburbs of Auckland lists most of Auckland’s suburbs and gives some indications of the demographics and relative affluence of each suburb. Some guide books to Auckland include the “Where to Live in Auckland” book and the “InSuburbia Migrants Guide to Auckland Suburbs”. The “Where to Live in Auckland” book has descriptions & profiles of around 50 areas in Auckland. The “InSuburbia Migrants Guide to Auckland Suburbs” uses colour maps and census information to show the good and not-so-good suburbs & areas, schools (rated by the decile rating), where different people live (UK migrants, South African migrants, wealthier, less wealthy, different professions etc) as well as the shopping areas, transport links and leisure facilities.

See the links to these guides at the end of this page in the External Links section


There are over 500 schools in the Auckland area, of which just over half are Primary schools (for children aged 6 to 10).

After primary school, there are Intermediate schools (age 11 to 13) and then senior schools (age 13 to 18).

Just to confuse you, some primary schools also cover the Intermediate years, and some secondary schools start with children younger than 13 – however, the above is a rough guide. The Intermediate & especially the senior schools tend to be a lot bigger in terms of school roll than the primary ones.

There are also composite schools which cover a much wider age range and these are often religious in orientation, many of them oriented to the newer Christian religions.

Some of the Catholic and Anglican schools are private (fee-paying) and others have been amalgamated into the state system. Many of these schools tend to be boys-only or girls-only.

There are also around 20 Special Needs schools.

The NZ government uses a Decile Rating system to determine how to allocate funding to schools on the rough basis that schools in poorer areas need more funding than those in wealthier ones, where parents are often expected to make various contributions. The decile rating is not a measure of academic or other performance. However it can be used as a very rough initial guide to the better schools in an area.


The main central restaurant & bar areas are the CBD Waterfront (known as the Viaduct Harbour) Viaduct Harbour, and Ponsonby. Alternative (non-family friendly) strip clubs, brothels and late night anything goes type of places can be found at K Road . There are various restaurants & bars scattered in all the main centres and some in the most unexpected places in hidden away in industrial parks and estates. The North Shore has Devonport and Takapuna, which have a wealth of eating and drinking places.

The CBD and North Shore has several cinema complexes, theatre and Art Galleries.

Sailing, boating, fishing are very popular (with all that water) and there are plenty of golf courses.

For family entertainment, the Auckland Zoo, Sky City and SkyTower, MOTAT (Transport Museum), Kelly Tarltons Underwater World, Rainbow Park and Stardome are all popular.

Ferry trips and excursions to the Hauraki Gulf Islands (Great Barrier, Waiheke and Rangitoto) run frequently from the ferry terminal in the CBD and Devonport. Fullers Ferries

Plenty of wineries for fine dining and wine sampling at Kumeu, Waiheke and by the Airport.

See the official Auckland entertainment, events and tourism guide for lots more: Auckland NZ


This is just a rough guide to shopping areas.


Sylvia Park is a large retail park and shopping centre in the suburb of Mount Wellington.

A wide variety of major retailers such as:

The Warehouse, Hoyts Cinemas, Whitcoulls Book Shop, Dick Smith, Pak'n Save, Countdown supermarkets as well as franchises of all major New Zealand banks and usual fast food outlets.

How to get there:

The area is located adjacent to two major interchanges of the Auckland Southern Motorway - the South-Eastern Highway (which passes directly through the shopping centre on a viaduct) and Mount Wellington Highway.


Dress-Smart is located in Onehunga, 20 minutes from the CBD behind the high street.


There are more than 100 stores offer big savings on national and international brand names in accessories, books, fashion, music or sportswearHere you will find more than 100 shops selling quality brands with up to 70% off the normal retail price.

How to get there:

A free shuttle bus which leaves from the central city. To find out the pickup points and timetable go to [1]

There is a covered car park, so you can drive there also.

There are several WESTFIELD Malls dotted arround, the newest of which is at Albany and still growing: Westfield Centres

Things To Do In And Around Auckland

Rainy Days:

Auckland Museum: [2]

Dry Days:

External Links

1. Wikipedia Suburbs of Auckland

2. Auckland MAXX (Transport)

3. Where to Live in Auckland

4. InSuburbia Migrants Guide to Auckland Suburbs

5. Westfield Centres

6. Dress Mart Onehunga


8. Skycity Auckland

9. Viaduct Harbour

10. Fullers Ferries

11. Auckland Council

12. This is Auckland

13. Auckland Museum

14. Countdown Supermarket

15. Sylvia Park Shopping Mall