The political make-up of the Auckland Council looks set to hinge on the outcome of six wards, where the right is out to put the brakes on the direction set by Mayor Len Brown.
The wards to watch are Albany, North Shore, Eden-Albert-Roskill, Waitemata, Maungakiekie-Tamaki and Waitakere, where several of Mr Brown's loyal supporters around the council table are facing strong challengers.
The results will determine if the council has the centre-left make-up of the first term of the Super City, or shifts to the right and takes a more fiscally conservative line on rates, debt and spending on new projects.
North of the Harbour Bridge, hard-to-pick battles are taking place in the Albany and North Shore wards, where candidates are pitching for four of the 20 ward seats on council.
The retirement of Michael Goudie in Albany has left one of two seats vacant. Sitting councillor and greenie Wayne Walker is being challenged by the right-leaning Brent Robinson, Lisa Whyte and Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt for two seats.
The right is quietly confident that Mr Robinson will win one seat, but believe councillor George Wood could be in trouble on the North Shore, where Labour councillor Ann Hartley and Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Chris Darby are opponents for the two seats.
Maungakiekie-Tamaki is a straight-out contest between Labour councillor Richard Northey and Communities and Residents (C&R) candidate Denise Krum. The veteran Mr Northey is looking vulnerable.
In the ward of Albert-Eden-Roskill, C&R's Chris Fletcher is almost certain to win one seat and is doing her best to bring in a second C&R candidate, Nigel Turnbull, to unseat left-wing battler and sitting councillor Cathy Casey, standing for City Vision.
In Waitemata, left-winger and sitting councillor Mike Lee is being challenged by Greg Moyle in a testy contest.
The other ward that could influence the council's political make-up is Waitakere, where the retirement of Sandra Coney has left a vacancy (deputy mayor Penny Hulse is a shoo-in for the second seat). Voters have a choice between left-leaning environmentalist Christine Rose and the right-leaning Linda Cooper.