Auckland Travel Guide

Geography and climate

Volcanoes

Auckland straddles the Auckland volcanic field, which has produced about 50 volcanoes. These take the form of cones, lakes, lagoons, islands and depressions, and several have produced extensive lava flows. Some of the cones have been partly or completely quarried away. The individual volcanoes are all considered extinct, although the volcanic field itself is merely dormant. Auckland has at least 14 large lava tube caves which run from the volcanoes down towards the sea.

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. 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.

Harbours, gulf and rivers

Auckland lies on and around an isthmus, less than two kilometres wide at its narrowest point, between Mangere Inlet and the Tamaki River. There are two harbours in the Auckland urban area surrounding this isthmus: Waitemata Harbour to the north, which opens east to the Hauraki Gulf, and Manukau Harbour to the south, which opens west to the Tasman Sea. The total coastline of Auckland is 3,702 km in length.

Bridges span parts of both harbours, notably the Auckland Harbour Bridge crossing the Waitemata Harbour west of the Auckland Central Business District (CBD). The Mangere Bridge and the Upper Harbour Bridge span the upper reaches of the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours, respectively. In earlier times, portage paths crossed the narrowest sections of the isthmus.

Several islands of the Hauraki Gulf are administered as part of Auckland, though they are not part of the Auckland metropolitan area. Parts of Waiheke Island effectively function as Auckland suburbs, while various smaller islands near Auckland are mostly zoned 'recreational open space' or are nature sanctuaries.

Auckland also has a total length of approximately 21,000 km of rivers and streams, about 8% of these in urban areas.

Climate

Auckland has a temperate climate, with warm, humid summers and mild, damp winters. Under Köppen's climate classification, the city has an oceanic climate (Cfb). It is the warmest main centre of New Zealand and is also one of the sunniest, with an average of 2060 sunshine hours per annum. The average daily maximum temperature is 23.7 °C (74.7 °F) in February and 14.5 °C (58.1 °F) in July. The absolute maximum recorded temperature is, while the absolute minimum is . High levels of rainfall occur almost year-round with an average of 1240 mm per year spread over 137 'rain days'. Snowfall in Auckland is extremely rare; recorded instances include 27 July 1939 and 15 August 2011, although without any accumulation.

The early morning calm on the isthmus during settled weather, before the sea breeze rises, was described as early as 1853: "In all seasons, the beauty of the day is in the early morning. At that time, generally, a solemn stillness holds, and a perfect calm prevails...". Many Aucklanders use this time of day to walk and run in parks.

Auckland occasionally suffers from air pollution due to fine particle emissions. There are also occasional breaches of guideline levels of carbon monoxide. While maritime winds normally disperse the pollution relatively quickly it can sometimes become visible as smog, especially on calm winter days. Precipitation is relatively abundant all year round, but is higher in winter.

source: Wikipedia

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