Auckland is the largest and most famous city in New Zealand. It isn’t the capital (but it used to be!) The city is known for large harbours, rugged geography, and vibrant community.
Below you’ll find out many more tidbits and fun facts about Auckland, the “City of Sails”!
Table of Contents
General Auckland Facts
- Auckland is the largest and most populous urban area in New Zealand.
- Auckland is in the north of New Zealand’s North Island.
- The city is less than 2 km (1.2 mi) wide at its narrowest point.
- Auckland sits at a lower latitude than the entire African continent.
- It is antipodal (on the opposite side of the world) to Seville, Spain.
- Auckland has a population of 1.4 million (metropolitan 1.7 million). It is similar in size to Jacksonville, Florida.
- 33% of the New Zealand’s population, or 1 in 3 people, live in Greater Auckland.
- In fact, more people live in Auckland than the entire South Island (the largest island of New Zealand).
- Auckland is known for its mild weather. The highest temperature ever recorded in Auckland was 32°C (89°F) in 1985, while the lowest was −1.2°C (−29.84°F) in 1994.
- In 1840, Governor William Hobson named the city after Lord Auckland, the Viceroy of India.
- Tmaki-makau-rau, or “Tmaki desired by many,” is one of the Maori names for the Auckland isthmus. It refers to the desirable natural resources and geography of the area.
- Auckland was the capital of New Zealand until it was moved to Wellington in 1865.
- The official abbreviation for Auckland and the international Auckland Airport code is AKL.
- Some common nicknames for Auckland are Big Little City, The City of Sails, The Queen City, and The AK.
- There are a few different flags representing Auckland. One is the city’s banner of arms (image above). It features a horn of plenty (for resources), pick and shovel (for mining), and ship. Another flag features the city’s logo, which has a flower and water.
- Tourism slogans for Auckland have included “Auckland: The place desired by many”, “Auckland ayyyyyyy”, “World’s Most Livable City”, and “The Show That Never Stops”.
- People from Auckland are called and Aucklanders or Jafas, which is said to stand for “Just Another Fabulous Aucklander”.
- Auckland has 10 sister cities, including Los Angeles (USA), Brisbane (Australia), Busan (South Korea), and Taichung (Taiwan).
Interesting Facts about Auckland Places
- Auckland has two major harbors: Waitematā Harbour (sometimes called Auckland Harbor) and Manukau Harbour. The iconic Auckland Harbor Bridge crosses the narrowest point of Waitematā Harbour.
- The Auckland Harbor Bridge actually consists of 3 bridges: the original built in 1959, and two “clip-ons” added in 1969 to increase its capacity.
- However, it is Kaipara Harbour, 30 km (18.6 mi) north of the city, which is actually one of the largest harbours in the world. It spans 947 km2 (366 mi2) at high tide.
- Auckland’s urban area is situated atop a volcanic field. Within a 1,000 square kilometer area, there are about 50 volcanoes.
- Some of the most famous tourist attractions in Auckland include the Sky Tower, One Tree Hill, Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, Howick Historical Village, and Auckland Art Gallery.
- The tallest skyscraper in Auckland is the PwC Tower at Commercial Bay, which has 41 floors and stands 180 m (590 ft) tall.
- However, the city’s tallest structure is the Sky Tower. At 328 m (1076 ft), it is the tallest structure in the southern half of the world. It is part of SkyCity, Auckland’s only casino.
- Other iconic buildings and landmarks in Auckland include The Civic, Auckland Town Hall, Auckland Civic Theater, The Ferry Building, Alberton House, Highwic House, and University Clock Tower.
- The Great Hall of Auckland Town Hall is used for both council and entertainment purposes. It is said to have some of the best acoustics in the world.
- Great Barrier Island in Auckland is supposedly the first place in the world that used pigeons to deliver mail with postage stamps.
- With more than 200 stores and 2500 employees, Sylvia Park in Auckland is New Zealand’s largest mall and was opened in 2006.
Auckland Economy and Society Facts
- After Europeans, Asians are the largest ethnic group in Auckland, making up one-third of all residents.
- Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
- Auckland is considered an expensive city to live in, with a cost of living similar to Los Angeles (US) or Melbourne (Australia).
- But it is also regarded as one of the most livable; it actually came in first in The Economist’s ranking of the world’s most livable cities in 2021.
- Auckland’s economy is similar in size to that of St. Petersburg, Russia or New Orleans, USA.
- It is also considered a very safe city, but not the safest in the world. Its crime index is similar to that of Bali, Indonesia or San Jose, California.
- The University of Auckland is the largest university in New Zealand. It has over 40,000 students and is consistently ranked as one of the top-100 universities in the world.
- The Auckland Airport is the busiest airport in New Zealand. It served 21 million passengers in 2019. Its top three routes are all to Australia.
- Auckland received 2.93 million tourists in 2019, making it the 80th most visited city in the world.
- In 2022, Auckland only received around 447,000 tourists, and the airport saw 5.6 million passengers, so it still has a ways to go to fully recover from COVID.
- The richest person in Auckland is businessman Graeme Hart, with a net worth of 9.7 billion USD.
- Movies filmed in Auckland include Mulan (2020 version, also filmed in China), The Meg, Orphans & Kingdoms, Born to Dance, and Broken English.
- TV shows filmed in Auckland include Shannara, Shortland Street, Go Girls, and The Brokenwood Mysteries.
- The Auckland Festival, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and the New Zealand International Film Festival are just a few of the many events that take place in Auckland.
Auckland Sports Facts
- The most popular sport in Auckland is rugby.
- Other widely played sports in Auckland are cricket, association football, and netball.
- The ATP Auckland Open and WIA Auckland Open Tennis tournaments are two of the major annual sporting events hosted in Auckland.
- The Auckland SuperSprint a popular annual supercar competition.
- The Auckland Marathon, the Auckland Anniversary Regatta, the Auckland Cup, and the Auckland Harbor Crossing Swim are a few more widely attended annual events.
Famous People from Auckland
- Actors Dean O’Gorman, David Fane, Dwayne Cameron, Chris Rankin, Paul Glover, and Jarred Blakiston were born in Auckland.
- Actresses Lucy Lawless, Michelle Langstone, Danielle Cormack, Pamela Stephenson, Olivia Tennet, and Rose McIver were born in Auckland.
- Singers and musicians Alannah Currie, Mitch James, Ginny Blackmore, Annabel Fay, Che Fu, and Lorde were born in Auckland.
- The famous bands Antagonist A.D., Dead Famous People, Midnight Youth, Broods, Like a Storm, and Garageland are from Auckland.
- The writers and poets Stephanie Johnson, Vincent O’Sullivan, David Eggleton, Leonie Agnew, and Paula Green were also from Auckland.
- The current head of the UN Development Program, Helen Clark, was born and raised in Auckland and served as New Zealand’s 37th prime minister.
- Sir Edmund Hillary, the last of our Aucklanders, is best remembered for becoming one of the first climbers to successfully reach the peak of Mt. Everest in the Himalayas.
Auckland Food Facts
- Some of the most famous dishes that are very popular in or associated with Auckland include hangi (a traditional slow-cooked Maori dish), lolly cake (a kind of cake with marshmallow-like chunks in it), fish and chips, meat pie, rewena bread (Maori sourdough bread), and pavlova (a meringue-based dessert).
- While there is no Michelin guide for Auckland, so none of the city’s restaurtants have Michelin stars, other sources have called The Grove in Auckland one of the top-10 best restaurants in the world.
- In Auckland, the distinctive ice cream flavor known as “hokey pokey” blends thick, simple vanilla ice cream with flavorful, substantial chunks of honeycomb toffee known as “hokey pokey”.
- At last count, there were 44 breweries operating in the greater Auckland area.
- Auckland also lends its name to a small but excellent wine-growing region.
Auckland History Facts
- Indigenous Maori people first settled the Auckland area in the 1300s. The area has a strategic location between two major harbours.
- Around 20,000 Maori people lived in the region prior to the arrival of European settlers, more than any other settlement in New Zealand at the time.
- The Dutch Abel Tasman arrived in New Zealand in 1642. After four of his crew were killed by the locals, he named that bay “Murderers’ Bay” (now “Golden Bay”) on the South Island. Today there is a national park in New Zealand named after him.
- 127 years passed before another European arrived. That was British Captain James Cook in 1769. Contact with Europeans increased in the 1800s.
- The British founded Auckland in 1840. Over the following century, the Maori population would decline and much of their land would be taken.
- Auckland’s first church, St. Paul’s, was founded in 1841.
- In 1842, Auckland was designated the capital of New Zealand.
- The Southern Cross newspaper began its publication in 1843.
- The capital was moved from Auckland to Wellington in 1865 due to its sheltered harbour and more central location in the country.
- Philip Philips became the first mayor of Auckland in 1871.
- The University of Auckland was founded in 1883.
- In 1902, the electric tram system was installed.
- The iconic Auckland Town Hall was built in 1911, followed by the Auckland Ferry Terminal a year later.
- In 1913, the largest strike in New Zealand’s history took place in Auckland.
- In 1950, the British Empire Games (now called the Commonwealth Games) were held in Auckland.
- The last tram stopped running in Auckland in 1956.
- The population of Auckland reached half a million in 1964.
- In 1966, the Auckland Airport and Newmarket Viaduct (seven-lane state highway) opened.
- The Auckland Observatory was founded in 1967.
- Auckland Opera was founded in 1970.
- The 1990 Commonwealth Games were held in Auckland.
- The population of Auckland surpassed a million in 1995.
- The Sky Tower was built in 1997, becoming the country and Southern Hemisphere’s tallest structure.
- Several matches of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, including the final game, were held at Eden Park in Auckland.
- In 2014, electric train service began operating in Auckland.
- Auckland’s population surpassed 1.5 million in 2017.
- During the pandemic, Auckland underwent several lockdowns, including two months (along with the rest of the country) at the outset, a city-wide lockdown again in summer 2020, and another in early 2021.
- In early 2023, flooding caused severe damage and 4 deaths in Auckland and the Upper North Island. They occurred during the Auckland Anniversary weekend.