Occupied by Māori for over 800 years, the land that is now Auckland is based around a surprisingly narrow isthmus, with the startling number of 50 volcanic cones pimpling the land, not all of them extinct.
It’s a wondrous landscape, with the Manukau Harbour to the southwest connected to the Tasman Sea, and the Waitemata Harbour to the east connected to the Hauraki Gulf and Pacific Ocean.
Volcanic cones such as One Tree Hill, Mt Eden and Rangitoto Island dot the horizon and small islands seem to float out in the Hauraki Gulf. There are magnificent black-sand beaches and the Waitakere Ranges out west, while marvellous beaches and farmland stretch away up north.
And covering this land is a bustling, multi-ethnic city – make that a super-city – as of 2011, the region’s municipalities merged to become a metropolis.
This is THE big smoke in New Zealand with fully one-third of the country’s population living here - the city of skyrocketing house prices, sprawling suburbs, traffic congestion like seldom seen, and bright lights to be envied.