The Auckland region is a predominantly urban area centred on the isthmus between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours but extending over a considerable area both to the north and to the south. It is contained within the boundaries of Waitemata, Eden, Manukau and Franklin counties, which, together with their interior cities and boroughs, constitute the principal basis for the collection of statistics. Auckland city, with a population of 143,583, is the largest single administrative body in the region. In 1961 the total population of the region was 502,483 (representing 20·80 per cent of the total New Zealand population), 4·87 per cent of which were Maoris.
The need to treat the Auckland region separately arises because the economic and social reality of this extensive conurbation–and with a population of half a million it warrants the term–is obscured, especially for readers overseas, by the multiplicity of place names and the large number of local government bodies which undertake the civic administration of the area.
The core of the region is Auckland city itself, with its wharves at the foot of Queen Street, the principal shopping thoroughfare. In the immediate vicinity are a group of financial houses and banks, Government offices for national and local purposes, the civic and cultural buildings, the university, and Albert Park, which is one of the pleasures of the city. In addition a range of small factories populate the back streets and upper stories. The huddle of multi-storey blocks, when seen from the air, clearly marks the centre of the conurbation which contains a third of the conurbation's total population. The larger proportion of the remainder, however, is to be found concentrated around Auckland city on the narrow strip of land between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours; the rest, urban, rural, and semi-rural, is scattered as far north as Orewa and as far south as Bombay and Pukekohe.