Voters have expressed a lack of enthusiasm for the two declared candidates in this year's Auckland Supercity mayoral race by nominating Warehouse founder and philanthropist Stephen Tindall as a surprise contender.

A major Herald on Sunday/Buzz Channel poll shows Tindall deposing John Banks to take second place among Auckland voters.

Poll respondents outside the region - including some absentee ratepayers who will be eligible to vote - identified Tindall as their favourite, ahead of both Manukau's Len Brown and Auckland City's Banks.

Labour-backed Brown, who has already invested large sums in billboard advertising, has the unchallenged lead in South Auckland, but further afield, his lead is narrower.

Tindall, who has not declared an interest in running, polled at 11.6 per cent in the Auckland region.

Manukau mayor Brown was chosen by 23.8 per cent as preferred candidate, while Banks took 8.2 per cent.

Brown said the result was a good way to start the year, and reflected feedback he got from doorknocking and meetings around the region.

"In terms of where we're at, I'm pleased, but it is early days yet, we're still early in the campaign."

Banks dismissed the poll results. "There's 10 months to go," he said.

"All of our polling shows the race is very, very tight and there'll be many many more candidates yet to announce. There's a long way to go in the poll that counts."

When the two declared candidates were pitched head-to-head, the Manukau mayor was ticked by 44 per cent, compared to his Auckland rival's 19 per cent. 21.1 per cent would not vote for either and 15.8 per cent were unsure.

It's the largest lead for Brown shown by any polling so far - and that's despite fewer respondents being able to name him unprompted.

While most could name both, a large number said the candidates were Banks and a variation of "the man from Manukau".

Brown said he was aware of Banks' stronger name recognition, "so it's critical for me to be out there and present myself to people".

He added: "I seriously want to meet 1.4 million people."

When put up against a wider group of contenders, Banks' vote splintered, leaving him to slip to third place behind Brown and Tindall.

Next was Mike Lee (5.7 per cent), maverick Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt (5.6), former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley (5.2), broadcaster Paul Henry (4.9) and former MP Winston Peters (3.9).

Many respondents were concerned at the potential for a "celebrity" mayor.

Others said they were worried at how much power the mayor would wield.

The demographically-weighted online survey ran during December and polled 1469 Auckland region residents and 2383 people nationwide.

How much is the job worth?

He or she will lead our biggest city, taking in a third of the country's population - so what size paycheque should the supermayor take home?

Aucklanders we asked were prepared to be generous, with 47 per cent prepared to pay the mayor at least half of the Prime Minister's salary.

Just over 30 per cent suggested a third or less of John Key's $393,000 paycheque would be about right.

When asked to give a dollar figure, about half opted for a number between $150,000 and $250,000.

Just over 13 per cent of those who responded were happy to see the new mayor earn $500,000 or more.

At the moment, Auckland mayor John Banks earns $170,269.