More than 80 homeless people are sleeping rough in central Auckland each night, according to a new survey.

But the group which conducted the survey says the true figure is likely to be higher, with up to 150 people estimated to be sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower.

The survey is the second annual street census conducted by the Auckland Rough Sleepers Initiative, a group made up of representatives from agencies that provide services to homeless people in central Auckland.

A team of 30 volunteers found rough sleepers in doorways, bus shelters, cars, public toilets, parks, building sites, and under bridges.

However, despite anecdotal evidence that homeless people were moving to Newmarket to escape the central city liquor ban, the survey did not find any rough sleepers there.

People who were asleep were not disturbed, meaning that some of the observations were incomplete, but 80 per cent of people found were recorded as male, with 16 per cent female and four per cent unidentified.

Maori or Polynesian made up 58 per cent of those sleeping rough, with Pakeha comprising 22 per cent.

Thirty-seven per cent were under 30 years old, 44 per cent were between 30 and 50 and 10 per cent were older than 50.

A further 27 people were in temporary shelter or police custody on the night of the survey, bringing the known rough sleeper total to 108.

While the tally was up 27 per cent on last year, surveyors credited the difference to changes in methodology, rather than a genuine increase in the number of homeless.

An independent report recently commissioned by the Auckland City Council estimated that on top of the city's "primary homeless", a further 126 people were staying in temporary or emergency accommodation on an average night.

Wilf Holt of the Rough Sleepers Initiative said even 81 rough sleepers was "not a figure to be proud of".

"If you compare those per square kilometre it's not a small figure," he said. A person walking into the city from Mt Eden would likely pass the positions of 30-40 rough sleepers without realising it, he said.

Rough sleepers were "up there with the most marginalised people in society", Mr Holt said.

The census comes ahead of a national forum, Sleeping Rough in New Zealand, to be held in Auckland next month. Auckland City's community development and equity committee recently resolved to develop an action plan for dealing with the homeless problem.