April 23, 2017 – Auckland, New Zealand
We had breakfast this morning in the Terrace. We had to be out of our rooms by 8 a.m. so that they could clean and prep them for new passengers who would be boarding starting at noon. We were the last off the ship because we were staying in Auckland tonight so it was about 9 when we left the ship. Everyone who had airplane connections were off the ship first. As we were standing in line to get on the bus to the hotel, Olga and Tatiana, 2 of our favorite waitresses, came and gave us big hugs as they left the ship for a few hours of free time in Auckland.
When we got to the hotel, our room wasn’t ready so we sat in the lobby for an hour or so. When our room was ready, we went up and got rid of our carryon luggage and then headed out to do a little sightseeing. We decided to buy a ticket for the hop-on, hop-off bus. We rode it all the way around so we got quite a good look at the city.
It is full of athletes, about 25,000, who are here for the Masters Games. These games are for those who are former Olympic athletes as well as “social” athletes. The events are mainly the same as the summer Olympics. There are 2 categories of contestants – those who are professional or Olympic athletes and those who play simply for the fun of it. We sat at a table at lunch with a woman who played volleyball and her husband who was a weight lifter. She was thrilled because she had played in a game against an athlete who had won a bronze medal in the Olympics. It was a demonstration game, but, as she said, where would she ever have had a chance to play against that caliber of athlete. Her team was entered in the “social” level play. They would be playing for the gold medal in that class on Monday.
Patsy has to catch her bus to the airport at 9 in the morning. I don’t leave until 6 so I’m going to sightsee tomorrow on my own. I bought a 2 day pass on the bus which will take me to the places that I want to go.
Auckland is a city on the North Island of New Zealand. It is the most populous urban area in the country. Auckland has a population of 1,495,000, which constitutes 32 percent of New Zealand's population. A diverse and multicultural city, Auckland is home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. The Maori language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki-makau-rau which means "Tāmaki with a hundred lovers" which refers to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions. It has also been called Ākarana which is the Māori pronunciation of Auckland.
The hills surrounding the city 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 Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the few cities in the world to have harbors on 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. Maori 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, the new Governor of New Zealand chose the area as the new capital. He named the area "Auckland" for the 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 center of New Zealand.
Auckland is classified as a Beta World City because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, education and tourism. Auckland is frequently ranked among the World’s most livable cities.
The isthmus was settled by Maori around 1350 and was valued for its rich and fertile land. Many fortified villages were created, mainly on the volcanic peaks. Māori population in the area is estimated to have been about 20,000 people before the arrival of Europeans. The introduction of firearms at the end of the eighteenth century upset the balance of power and led to devastating intertribal warfare beginning in 1807. This caused tribes 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. There is, however, 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 sites of the modern cities of Auckland and North Shore and part of Rodney District for "one large cask of powder" from "Cohi Rangatira".
After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Auckland was chosen as the new capital of New Zealand. The land that Auckland was established on was given to the Governor by local Maori Ngati Whatua tribe as a sign of goodwill and in the hope that the building of a city would attract commercial and political opportunities for the tribe. Auckland was officially declared New Zealand's capital in 1841. However, even in 1840 Port Nicholson, now Wellington, was seen as a better choice for an administrative capital because of its proximity to the South Island. Wellington became the capital in 1865.
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 defense 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 so the outlying defensive towns were 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 Maori 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 enabled European New Zealanders influence to spread from Auckland. Its population grew fairly rapidly, from 1,500 in 1841 to 3,635 in 1845 to 12,423 by 1864. Auckland had a far greater population of ex-soldiers, many of whom were Irish, than other settlements. About 50% of the population was Irish which contrasted heavily with the majority English settlers in Wellington and Christchurch. Most of the Irish, though not all, were from Protestant Ulster. The majority of settlers in the early period were assisted by receiving a 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 and has not abated since. Arterial roads and motorways have become both defining and geographically dividing features of the urban landscape.
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 center of the national economy. Auckland also benefited from a surge in tourism which brought 75% of New Zealand's international visitors through its airport. In 2004, Auckland's port handled 43% 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% of Auckland's population; Asians less than 1%. By 2006 the Asian population had reached 18.0% in Auckland. New arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea gave a distinctive character to the areas where they clustered. 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 which is less than 1.25 miles wide at its narrowest point. There are two harbors in the Auckland urban area surrounding this isthmus: Waitemata 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 2,300 miles long.
Auckland has an oceanic to humid subtropical climate with warm humid summers and mild damp winters. It is the warmest main center 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 74.7 °F in February and 58.5 °F in July. The absolute maximum recorded temperature is 93.9 °F while the absolute minimum is 25.0 °F. High levels of rainfall occur almost year-round with an average of 43.92” 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. Snowflakes were also seen on 28 July 1930 and 15 August 2011.
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.
The Auckland metropolitan area has a population of 1,495,000 people according to Statistics New Zealand's June 2016 estimate which is 31.9 percent of New Zealand’s population. Many ethnic groups from all corners of the world have a presence in Auckland which makes it by far the country's most cosmopolitan city. Europeans make up the majority of Auckland's population, however, substantial numbers of Maori, Pacific Islander and Asian peoples exist as well. According to the 2013 New Zealand census, 59.3 percent of Aucklanders identified as of European ethnicity, 23.1 percent as Asian, 14.6 percent as Pacific peoples, 10.7 percent as Māori, 1.9 as Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, and 1.2 percent as another ethnicity (mainly 'New Zealander').
About 48.5 percent of Aucklanders at the 2013 census affiliated with Christianity and 11.7 percent affiliated with non-Christian religions while 37.8 percent of the population were irreligious and 3.8 percent objected to answering. Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination with 13.3 percent affiliating. This is followed by Anglicanism (9.1 percent) and Presbyterianism (7.4 percent). Recent immigration from Asia has added to the religious diversity of the city, increasing then 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's lifestyle is influenced by the fact that while it is 70% rural in land area, 90% 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. Crime is also cited as a negative. Nonetheless, Auckland ranked 3rd in a survey of the quality of life of 215 major cities of the world in 2015. In 2006, Auckland placed 23rd on the list of the world's richest cities.
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. About 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 city, hosted two America’s Cup challenges in 2000 and 2003.
Auckland is the major economic and financial center of New Zealand. The city's economy is based largely on services and commerce. Most major international corporations have an Auckland office.
The sub-national GDP of the Auckland region was estimated at US$47.6 billion in 2003 which was 36% of New Zealand's national GDP. That is 15% greater than the entire South Island.
Auckland's status as the largest commercial center of the country reflects in the high median personal income (per working person, per year) which was approximately US$33,000 for the region in 2005.
The Auckland urban area has 340 primary schools, 80 secondary schools, and 29 composite (primary/secondary combined) schools as of February 2012. These have enrolled nearly a 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 which is the largest school in New Zealand with 3110 students as of July 2016.
Auckland has a number of important educational institutions, including some of the largest universities in the country. Auckland is a major center 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. As of 2007, there are around 50 New Zealand Qualifications Authority 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.
Auckland's housing is amongst the least affordable in the world based on comparing average house prices with average household income levels. House prices have grown well above the rate of inflation in recent decades. In February 2017, it was reported that the average house price for Auckland metro was $1,044,000. This is 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.