Historic urbanisation in the Auckland region: 1842-2016

Craig Fredrickson
Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit
Publication date:

How Auckland operates as a city today is often a function of how it has developed historically; this makes understanding how Auckland and its urban area has developed over time important.

Auckland’s urban development has been shaped by several factors including the geography of the region, its two harbours – the Waitematā and the Manukau, large volcanic fields across the isthmus, two mountain ranges, the Waitākere Ranges and the Hunua Ranges – along with technological and social change.

This animation shows Auckland’s core urban area expansion between 1842 and 2016, along with major transport infrastructure that has influenced this change. Early settlements were on the coast with harbour access for ships. Later, urban development occurred firstly along railways and later on tram routes – initially horse drawn or steam powered, but later electric. Later urban expansion was along main roading corridors, and more recently motorways, as private motor vehicle ownership became common.

Auckland’s main urban area has grown from around 33 hectares in 1842 to close to 50,000 hectares in 2016. In the same period, the population of the urban area grew from roughly 3000 (1842) to over 1.2 million (2013). At the time of the 2013 census around 90 per cent of Auckland’s population lived in the main urban area, which covered around 10 per cent of the region’s total land area.

View animated map

Last updated: 2016-09-13