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Notes on the Geography of New Zealand: Auckland: Photo 1

world pictures New Zealand: Auckland

When in doubt, add Frisbee.

The city was founded in 1840, the same year that New Zealand became a crown colony separate from New South Wales. For a decade or so Auckland was the capital, but it soon lost out to Wellington, which was more central. Still, Auckland has never come anywhere near losing its status as the country's demographic center: Wellington and Christchurch each have only a third as many people as Auckland--say, 400,000 each.

We're out on a pier for a view of the central business district. The brick building, from 1912, is the ferry terminal, though ferries now leave from the gull-winged sheds in front of it. The ferry service, which serves the extensive suburbs on the north side of the harbor, is operated by a private company, Fullers Group.

The frisbee belongs to the Vero Center, completed in 2000 as the Royal & Sun Alliance Center. (Vero is the latest incarnation of that company's local unit.) To its left is the antenna-fitted Lumley Center, home of another insurance company. Between them is Harbour City, alias Auckland Harbour Oaks, a hotel with serviced apartments.

The 7-story building just to the left of the old ferry terminal is the Endeas Building, a landmark hotel rebuilt after a fire in 1915 and converted in 1993 to residential and commercial use. Two doors down, there's another residential building, Harbourview; it's the one whose windows are just slits. In comparison, the HSBC building, from 1973, almost looks good. But enough: the outside air is fresh.

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