New Zealand is an island in the south-western Pacific Ocean. It is made up of two large landmasses (commonly known as North Island and South Island), with many smaller islands off of its coast. The island is located about 2000 km (or 1250 miles) south-east of Australia. Its neighbors consist of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. Comparable in size and shape to Great Britain, Colorado or Japan, New Zealand has a population of only 4 million.
Known for the slogan "thirty minutes to anywhere", Auckland has been ranked as one of the best cities in the world to live in. The Auckland region actually includes four cities: Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere. There are also three districts: Franklin, Rodney and Papakura. Auckland is the world's largest Polynesian city with around 1 million residents. Around 62% of its residents are of European descent, 12% are M?ori, 11% are of Pacific Island descent. There is also a growing Asian population of around 9%.
Auckland is settled on volcanic lands on the Auckland Volcanic Field. This area has produced approximately 50 volcanoes. The most recently active and largest volcano, Rangitoto Island, was formed within the last 1000 years. The individual volcanoes are all considered extinct, although the volcanic field itself is listed as dormant. Earthquakes still occur frequently, but most are not serious and don't cause any damage.
The land mass the city is set on is an isthmus that spans between Mangere Inlet and the Tamaki River. More water besieges the city in the form of two harbors. Waitemata Harbour to the north opens to the Hauraki Gulf and Manukau Harbour opens to the Tasman Sea. Because of this plethora of water, bridges mark the look of the city, most notably the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Auckland has a warm-temperate climate consisting of warm, humid summers and mild, damp winters. This is the warmest, sunniest spot in New Zealand with an average of 2060 sunshine hours per year.
The average daily maximum temperature is 23.7 degrees Celsius in February with the absolute minimum at -2.5 degrees Celsius. The warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest are June, July and August. High levels of rainfall occur year-round keeping the area lush and green. Snowfall is exceedingly rare with the only recorded incident occurring on July 27th, 1939. Contrary to the Northern hemisphere, summer brings Christmas Day barbecues, lazy days at the beach, and warm weather fun.
Partially because of these geographical factors, paired with a culture devoted to car ownership, there are issues of air pollution. There are regular breaches of guideline levels of carbon monoxide. The city's seaside location allows the wind to blow away some of the pollution, but it remains a problem. On calm winter days a layer of smog can hang over the city.
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