Auckland’s population may rise from about 1.7 million currently to 2 million by early next decade, Stats NZ said today.
“Auckland will likely have the highest average annual growth of New Zealand’s 16 regions over the next 30 years, from net migration and natural increase (more births than deaths) in relatively equal shares,” population estimates and projections manager Hamish Slack said.
Auckland may have 2 million residents by the early 2030s, but that milestone may come earlier or later depending on levels of migration over the coming years. Auckland is currently home to just over one-third of New Zealand’s population (34 percent). By 2048 it could make up 37 percent.
“The medium-growth projection suggests Auckland’s population could expand by another 300,000 people by 2033 – an average of about 60 extra people every day, or 1,900 a month,” Mr Slack said.
Auckland reached a population of 1 million in the early 1990s. Recent growth was driven by high net migration in the seven years before COVID-19.
Auckland will account for half of New Zealand's population growth over the next 30 years, under the medium projection. This is similar to its share of the country's growth over the last 30 years.
Population growth rates in Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, and Northland are also important contributors to New Zealand’s increasing population.
Updated projections suggest that the rate of growth in all regions will slow in the long term.
“An ageing population means we can expect more deaths, despite increasing life expectancy, so population growth will generally slow in the long term,” Mr Slack said.
With an ageing population, all regions except Auckland, Waikato, Gisborne, Wellington, and Canterbury are projected to have natural decreases by the late 2040s, with more deaths than births.
"The total number of people who will be living in each area in the future is uncertain. However, what is certain is that every area of New Zealand will have more older people."
The medium projections indicate that the West Coast is the only region that may have a lower population in 2048 than in 2018. This is likely due to more deaths than births and low net migration.
The West Coast’s population (32,400 in 2020) may start declining in the early 2030s, decreasing to 30,600 in 2048. Low and high projections have this ranging from 25,500 to 36,000 people in 2048.
The West Coast’s population has dropped before (down to 31,100 in 2001 and 2002), but steadily climbed back (to 33,100 in 2011 and 2012).
In the early 1990s, births on the West Coast exceeded deaths by about 250 a year. More recently births exceeded deaths by about 40 a year (in 2018–2020). Deaths could exceed births by 200 a year in the early 2030s, and by 900 a year in the late 2040s (medium projection).
Of New Zealand’s 67 territorial authority (TA) areas – or city and district council areas – 61 are projected to have more people in 2048 than in 2018. The fastest growing areas are projected to be Selwyn (west of Christchurch) and Queenstown-Lakes districts. The six TA areas expected to have smaller populations in 2048 than in 2018 are Waitomo, Ruapehu, Buller, Grey, Westland, and Gore districts.
Nearly three-quarters of New Zealand’s growth (74 percent) by 2048 will be in Auckland and the other 12 cities, resulting in 968,000 more city dwellers than in 2018.
As released in December 2020, New Zealand’s total population could reach 6 million in about 20–30 years (see New Zealand’s population could reach 6 million by 2050 for more information).
These projections are not predictions. The projections should be used as an indication of the overall trend, rather than as exact forecasts. Stats NZ produces low, medium, and high growth projections for every local area every 2–3 years to assist planning by communities, local councils, and government.
Projections are based on assumptions made about future migration, birth rates, and death rates. For these projections, the long-term median annual net migration gain is assumed to be 25,000 for New Zealand, an increase from 15,000 in the 2016-base median assumptions. However, migration remains uncertain in the short term because of COVID-19 border restrictions (see New Zealand citizens drive net migration gain for further information), as well as in the long term. The long-term total fertility rate is assumed to be 1.65 births per woman, down from 1.85 in the previous assumptions. These projections assume current policy settings, and do not try to anticipate future major policy changes which may affect population change.
The graph shows the population estimates of Auckland region up to the year 2020, and its projected population from 2023 to 2048. The values of the vertical axis are in millions. There are low, medium, and high projections. The lowest value in the graph is the population estimate for Auckland in 1996, a value of 1,115,800. The highest value in the graph is the projected population of Auckland in 2048 with a value of 2,624,300, using the high projections. The 2048 value using the low projections is 1,993,400, and 2,302,900 using the medium projections.
The graph shows the projected average annual population change from 2018 to 2048 for each region, with low, medium, and high projections for each region. The vertical line in the graph indicates zero percent of growth. The average annual population change ranged from 1.55 percent growth in Auckland using the high projection, to 0.8 percent decline in the West Coast region using the low projection.
The graph shows the population estimates of West Coast region up to the year 2020, and its projected population from 2023 to 2048. There are low, medium, and high projections. The lowest value in the graph is the projected population of West Coast in 2048 with a value of 25,500, using the low projections. The highest value in the graph is the projected population of West Coast in 2048 with a value of 36,000, using the high projections. The 2048 value using the medium projections is 30,600.