Most Saturdays we dig into the archives. This post by John was originally published in September 2014.

This post is the first part of what will be a three-part series on Auckland’s city centre and the 2013 census stats on it. Today, I’m looking at the changing demographics of the city centre.

Age Groups

The graph below shows the changing age structure of city centre residents, from 1996 through to 2013:

Age Groups

As shown here, we’re seeing a broader mix of age groups starting to live in the city centre. That includes more kids under 5. The percentage of school-age children is still very low, reflecting the lack of schools in the area. Matt has blogged about the ways in which the city centre could be made more child-friendly, taking lessons from Vancouver.

We’re also seeing a smaller proportion of people in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups – and the drops are fairly substantial (42% to 35%). In their place, there are more people in the 25-29 and 30-34 age groups (29% to 35%). The DINKS (double income, no kids) are moving in.

Again, these changes in proportions are somewhat overshadowed by the overall population increase, so there are still more 15-24 year olds living in town overall.

Students vs. Non-Students

The number of students living in the city centre has risen quite substantially since 2006 – from 5,535 to 8,052 – but students now make up a smaller proportion of the population (39.5% vs 43.1%). That means a more diverse population, which is a good thing (it also means residents with more spending power, which is good news for CBD retailers).


Incomes are still low for many city centre households – 25% are in the lowest “$20,000 or less” bracket, no doubt reflecting a large number of students. Looking at the rest of the income distribution, there are relatively few (21%) households in the top bracket, although reasonable representation in the $50K to $100K range. The graph below compares 2013 incomes for the city centre, “inner city suburbs” (as defined in this paper), Auckland and New Zealand:


Lower incomes will reflect, in part, a younger and more ethnically diverse population. On a positive note, the number of city centre households in the top bracket increased by 86% between 2006 and 2013, and the number in the $70K-$100K bracket increased by 126%, compared with much smaller increases in the number of low-income households (48%, 33% and 57% respectively for the first three brackets). There’s more than just bracket creep going on there.

Commuting and Vehicle Access

More than 50% of city centre residents who commuted to work on census day did so by walking or jogging, with around 25% travelling in private vehicles and a number making use of buses or trains. Those are impressive stats, and it’s positive to see that car use has been steadily falling from 2001-2013.


Incidentally, living in the city centre can be pretty convenient even if you don’t work there – commuting against the traffic is a breeze. My partner used to get from our apartment to Orewa in 35 minutes in the morning (it still left us with fairly high petrol bills, but them’s the breaks).

The census also measures whether households have “access” to motor vehicles (motorbikes are excluded from the definition). As shown in the graph below, the proportion of carless households in the city centre has been growing quite substantially since 2001 – with minimum parking ratios now a thing of the past in the CBD at least, I’d expect this trend to continue.


“Household Sizes”

Not much to write home about here, but there’s now a higher proportion of 3-person households in the city centre, and fewer 1-person households. The average “household size” has increased from 1.9 to 2.0 residents.

HH size

Wrapping Up

Overall, the census stats show a picture of a city centre which is maturing in many ways. It’s good to see, and it reflects the qualitative changes we see taking place there – the CBD is getting more vibrant, with more to do, a better quality of life and improving transport links. Long may it last!

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  1. This is quite clear from the chart that people are moving out once they children are turning five. This is quite a challenge to get to the Freeman’s bay school from the CBD.

    1. Union/ Wellington Streets really need pedestrian improvements/ maybe extend the nelson street cycleway across to Freemans. First one is part of the CCMP, but don’t know how close we are to seeing plans for it

  2. The graphic clearly shows that after children reach the age of five, people start to move out. The journey from the CBD to the Freeman’s Bay school is rather difficult.

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