Auckland, City of Sails, is so-named for boasting more yachts per capita than any other city in the world. One in three households owns a boat in this sparkling harbour town. This incredibly hip, energetic little city packs a big cultural punch. Roughly 1.3 million white Europeans, Pacific Islanders, Asians and Maori harmoniously merge to create a cultural cornucopia in New Zealand’s most populous city.
The result is a vibrant palette of galleries, theatres, eateries, bars and clubs of a calibre that rivals any major city. Auckland city ranked 3rd in Mercer’s 2011 global Quality of Living index and is the second-safest city in Asia-Pacific.
The central part of Auckland’s urban areas lies on a narrow isthmus, making it one of the few cities in the world with harbours on two separate major bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea. It is little wonder that Auckland frequently hosts esteemed nautical events, such as the America’s Cup challenge.
Straddling the Auckland volcanic field, the city gazes across to Rangitoto Island, the region’s most recent and largest volcano. This iconic backdrop has come to characterise the city, which has ready access to numerous thermal springs and water parks.
The city is country headquarters to major international corporations and banks and boasts some of the country’s largest and best schools and universities. A sound public transport system makes it easy to move around the centre and there are decent bus links to the outer suburbs, with access to priority lanes. This enables commuters to sidestep Auckland’s growing traffic congestion.
Those who prefer to eschew the close quarters of Auckland city for an island lifestyle can always swap the bus ride for a ferry commute to work. Idyllic Waiheke Island is only 45 minutes by ferry to Auckland.
The city’s borders give way to suburbs that back onto the lush, pristine Hunua ranges and extend along a coastline of expansive beaches. While many of its beaches are suitable for young families, others offer fantastic surfing and game fishing.
Auckland recently implemented a 30-year plan to become the world’s most liveable city. Sustainability, environment and climate change adaptation are chief priorities underpinning the city’s future social housing schemes and economic growth objectives.
What is special or unique about your city?
With a population of over 1.3 million and a sprawl of more than 60 square kilometres, Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. It is larger than greater London and contains approximately one-third of the entire country's population. It is known as the City of Sails for its beautiful harbours, as well as its distinction as the city with the largest number of boats per capita in the world. One of its greatest manmade features is the Sky Tower, the tallest building in New Zealand and the highest public viewing platform in the southern hemisphere at 300 meters above sea level.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Auckland is renowned for its beautiful harbour and the number and variety of its beaches and lush native bush areas. In Auckland, you are never far from the water. There are beaches with pounding surf and gentle, safe family beaches. There is one point where only 9 kilometres of land separate the Pacific Ocean from the Tasman Sea.
Auckland is also well known for its many recreational parks and sporting facilities. Auckland is considered New Zealand's international cosmopolitan centre. It is home to many diverse cultures and its population includes people from across the globe. This cosmopolitan mix is wonderfully reflected in the city's array of cafes and restaurants, festivals and markets.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Although Auckland is the fastest-growing city in New Zealand, great care is taken to protect the city's greenbelt and natural beauty. Much effort and support is given to maintaining and creating communities with all the amenities to make Auckland one of the best places to live work and play.
What is the local language?
English is the official language of New Zealand. You will hear Maori spoken along with other languages from the South Pacific. The diversity of the country allows you to hear languages spoken from all parts of the globe.
Here are a few Maori words that may be fun to learn and may help you while you are here:
English – Maori
- hello = kia ora
- goodbye = haere ra
- please = koa
- thank you = kia ora rawa atu
- good = ka pai
- bad = ka kino
- help = äwhinatia
- yes = äe
- no = käo
- food = kai
- water = wai
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
The main thing to remember is to respect the many diverse cultures in New Zealand. To avoid offending, please take note of the following:
- Casual dress is acceptable and usually preferred in most situations.
- Always try to be on time for appointments. Punctuality is considered good manners.
- Afternoon tea is between 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. and sweet items, such as cakes and biscuits, are served. The evening meal (dinner) is between 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. and a larger meal is served.
- Supper is an optional snack served much later in the evening. If you are invited over to friends for a meal and have been requested to bring a plate, this means that you are expected to bring a small plate of food appropriate for the meal you have been invited to.
- Cover your mouth if you must yawn; do not use toothpicks or spit in public.
- Ask permission before you attempt to photograph someone.
- When meeting someone or departing, use a firm handshake and make good eye contact.
- Avoid confusing or comparing New Zealand to Australia, as they are two distinct countries.
- New Zealand has strict smoking rule and smoking is not allowed in any public building or public transport.
- Smoking is not permitted in any bars, cafes or restaurants, but smoking areas may be provide outside.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Auckland has a mild climate with temperatures ranging from 14 to 24 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The climate is also highly variable; on any given day, you can expect to see examples of at least three of the year's seasons. Located in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand's seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. The warmest months here are December, January and February and the coldest are June, July and August.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
The Auckland Council has 2 complementary and non-hierarchical decision-making parts: the governing body (a mayor elected by all Aucklanders and 20 councillors) and 21 local body boards.
Auckland promotes recycling and recycling bins are provided by the Auckland council. New Zealand has a high regard for its natural beauty and New Zealanders are extremely protective of the flora and fauna.