Auckland is a city of volcanoes, with the ridges of lava flows forming its main thoroughfares and its many cones providing islands of green within the sea of suburbs. As well as being by far the largest, it’s also the most multicultural of New Zealand’s cities. A sizable Asian community rubs shoulders with the biggest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
The traditional Kiwi aspiration for a freestanding house on a quarter-acre section has resulted in a vast, sprawling city. The CBD was long ago abandoned to commerce, and inner-city apartment living has only recently caught on. While geography has been kind, city planning has been less so. Unbridled and ill-conceived development has left the centre of the city with plenty of architectural embarrassments. To get under Auckland’s skin you’re best to head to the streets of Victorian and Edwardian villas in its hip inner-city suburbs.