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A map of Auckland with some of its fake suburbs crossed out.
Design: Archi Banal.

SocietyNovember 1, 2023

Hear me out: Auckland has too many suburbs

A map of Auckland with some of its fake suburbs crossed out.
Design: Archi Banal.

When people questioned the legitimacy of my new suburb, I set out to find all the other fake suburbs in Auckland.

I recently moved to the Auckland suburb of Waterview, but several people I told – all lifelong Aucklanders who had lived or worked nearby – were unaware the suburb existed. They asked questions like “Isn’t that Point Chev?” and “Are you just moving to Mount Albert?” One even called Waterview a fake suburb. As a Waterview patriot, I huffed and puffed that it is genuine and not a phoney place like Australia

People questioning the legitimacy of Waterview made me wonder which Auckland suburbs could be considered fake, and there are many. With an incoming cut-hungry National-led government plus mayor Wayne Brown’s wish to streamline Auckland, now is the perfect time to reduce the number of Supercity suburbs – starting by removing the fake ones. Tāmaki Makaurau already has too many suburbs as it is without the added murkiness of barely-there postcodes.

The definition of a suburb is super arbitrary, and often, their boundaries are too. So, for the greater good of Tāmaki Makaurau-Auckland, I will arbitrarily deregister several so-called suburbs once and for all in the name of cuts and efficiency. 

Fake because they’re part of real suburbs

Anywhere named something heights or something south

What differentiates Albany Heights or south from Albany proper? Nothing really, so they’re both fake. The same goes for Orewa Heights, Pakuranga Heights, etc. “Avondale Heights is some bullshit,” says Spinoff video producer and Avondale (proper) resident Natalie Wilson. Roskill South is another example. It’s just Roskill’s richer residents trying to seem bougie by looking down on their neighbours down Dominion Road. If you want to seem posh, just say you live in Hillsborough!

Arch Hill

This fake suburb is just Grey Lynn and Ponsonby. Googling Arch Hill returns the address: Arch Hill, Grey Lynn, Auckland, 1021. 


All due respect to Balmoral School – with the country’s greatest student journalists and a legendary principal in Malcolm Milner – but the suburb the kura is named after is fake. Wedged between Mount Eden, Mount Roskill and Sandringham, Balmoral is part of those three real suburbs. For example, the streets between Dominion Road and Sandringham Road are just Sandringham. 

Conifer Grove

This fake suburb is to Takanini (which in itself is fake, but more on that later) what Roskill South is to real Roskill. Its address – Conifer Grove, Takanini, Auckland, 2112 – proves it’s part of Takanini, whose main shops are about half a metre from so-called Conifer Grove. Adding insult to injury, the cultural institution of Lollipops inside Conifer Grove is the Takanini branch.


The Birkenhead shops have done nothing to deserve being an independent suburb (Highbury). 

Karaka Harbourside and Karaka Lakes

Karaka is already one of South Auckland’s bougiest suburbs, so why do little sections of it need to try to become even bougier by staking their claims as its harbourside or lakebound cousins? It’s just unnecessary! I’ve never heard anybody say “welcome to Karaka Lakes” while exiting the motorway off-ramp 200 metres from this fake suburb – it’s just Karaka, for god’s sake.


It’s tough for The Spinoff to include Morningside since our office is in this fake (and frankly tiny) suburb – but the argument for Morningside’s fakeness is strong. Nothing genuinely distinguishes Morningside from its neighbours, and when I explain to people where our office is, they enlighten me that it is, in fact, in Kingsland. Recent additions to Morningside (like a number of bars, cafes, offices and even a recording studio) may see it soon become a real suburb with an identity distinguishable from its neighbours.


Newton is the only fake suburb I feel sympathy for because it was legit before being obliterated by the construction of the motorway spaghetti junction. It’s hard for anywhere decimated in a mid-20th-century wet dream to maintain its official suburb status – but Newton tried (kind of). Newton Central School still stands, but little else stakes a claim as being in Newton. Even the branches of two respected cultural authorities within Newton’s rohe – Bunnings and McDonalds – are their Grey Lynn outfits. 


Owairaka’s address on Google is: Owairaka, Mount Albert, Auckland, 1025. Most of Owairaka is definitely Mount Albert, and some is Mount Roskill and Sandringham. It is one street from Roskill’s Stoddard Road shops and Mount Albert’s Alberton House, plus inside its boundary includes the likes of Mount Albert Reserve. 

Saint Mary’s Bay

Saint Mary’s Bay may be Auckland’s fakest suburb. Just because there is a hospice and school named Saint Mary’s doesn’t mean this is a suburb. It only covers a measly 0.84 square kilometres and has a population only double that of the school that shares its name. This fake suburb is part of Freemans Bay, Herne Bay and Ponsonby. 

Three Lamps

Three Lamps is eerily similar to Saint Mary’s Bay. They share an overlapping rohe, and Freemans Bay, Herne Bay and Ponsonby surround both. Three Lamps is just Ponsonby’s northern edge. Plus, nowhere with such a boring name should be an independent suburb – Three Lamps is literally named after a streetlight. 

The Three Lamps, Ponsonby, Auckland, circa 1905, Dunedin, by Muir & Moodie. Te Papa (C.011042)
The streetlight in question, pictured here in 1905. Are these three lamps iconic enough to section off part of Ponsonby in their honour? (Photo: Muir & Moodie. Te Papa (C.011042))

Wattle Downs

Wattle Downs is “trying too hard not to be Manurewa”, said Reddit user Johnny_Truman in a post titled “In your view what is the worst suburb in Auckland and why?“. “I live here,” they said, “and it’s just quiet old rich people.” The type of people that might refuse to acknowledge they live in working-class suburbs like Manurewa. 

West Lynn

Apologies to Saint Mary’s Bay, but West Lynn is Auckland’s fakest suburb. Its fakeness is highlighted by borrowing half its name from Grey Lynn – the legit local suburb. There is no east, north or south Lynn, so why have West Lynn? What’s more, Grey Lynn Woolworths is marginally to the northwest of so-called West Lynn. What’s with parts of Grey Lynn, Herne Bay and Ponsonby claiming their independence?

Windy Ridge

Official address: Windy Ridge, Glenfield, Auckland, 0629.

Fake because they’re spelt wrong

Paerata/Paerātā Rise

The correct spelling of Paerata/Paerātā is Paeraataa. Many Manukau ahikaa prefer the double vowel, locally-relevant spelling over the homogenised macron use enforced from Wellington. For this reason, Paerata and Paerātā Rise are both fake Auckland suburbs until the correct spelling is restored.

Some incorrect Manukau place names. (Design: Archi Banal)


Like Paeraataa, the correct spelling of this area – Takaanini – uses double vowels. Its named after Ihaka Takaanini, a great 19th-century Waiohua chief, and he spelt (as his descendants still do) his name with two As. I refuse to recognise Takanini as an actual suburb until the correct spelling is adopted, and I will give you zero sympathy if you don’t know what I mean when I use the correct long vowel pronunciation.

Fake because it’s just fake


Having a sugar factory and a park (and nothing else) does not make you a suburb. 

Special mentions

Eden Terrace

Initially, I biasedly refused to include Eden Terrace – I used to live there with my parents behind the gloriously bright yellow Golf Warehouse. But I can’t omit Eden Terrace if I’ve shit on its neighbours Arch Hill and Newton. Sorry to my parents, but Eden Terrace is fake.


Newmarket is just one giant set of traffic lights and not an actual suburb. Broadway, just over one kilometre long, has nine sets of traffic lights – ridiculous! 


I begrudgingly include my suburb in this list since it has similarities to other entries. Like Saint Mary’s Bay, Waterview is tiny, covering only 1.12 square kilometres and populated by a bit under 4,000 people – who frequent its one bakery, single (great) cafe, sole dairy and lone laundromat. Same as Newton, a decent chunk of Waterview was destroyed to build a motorway. And similar to Three Lamps, Waterview has an incredibly dull, literal name. (Sorry to my neighbours, please don’t bring your dogs to shit on my lawn.)

Do you live in a fake suburb and want it included in this esteemed list? Make your case at

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