Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. With an urban population of 1,495,000, Auckland is the most populous urban area in the country. It is part of the wider Auckland Region—the area governed by the Auckland Council—which also includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,614,300.
A diverse and multicultural city, Auckland is home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. The Māori language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki-makau-rau, meaning „Tāmaki with a hundred lovers“, in reference to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions. It has also been called Ākarana, the Māori pronunciation of the English name.
Auckland is classified as a Beta World City because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, education and tourism. Auckland’s landmarks such as the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the Harbour Bridge, the Sky Tower, and many museums, parks, restaurants and theatres are significant tourist attractions. Auckland is frequently ranked among the world’s most liveable cities: the 2016 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Auckland 3rd place in the world on its list, while the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking placed Auckland in 8th place.
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 Waitemata 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.