North Island

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North Island
Te Ika-a-Māui
NewZealand.A2002296.2220.250m North Island crop.jpg
Satellite image of the North Island
North IslandTe Ika-a-Māui is located in Oceania
North IslandTe Ika-a-Māui
North Island
Te Ika-a-Māui
Coordinates38°24′S 175°43′E / 38.400°S 175.717°E / -38.400; 175.717
ArchipelagoNew Zealand
Area113,729 km2 (43,911 sq mi)
Area rank14th
Highest elevation2,797 m (9,177 ft)
Highest pointMount Ruapehu
New Zealand
ISO 3166-2:NZNZ-N
Territorial authorities43
Largest settlementAuckland (pop. 1,534,700)
Population3,677,200 (June 2017)
Pop. density32.3 /km2 (83.7 /sq mi)

The North Island (Māori: Te Ika-a-Māui) is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the slightly larger but much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island's area is 113,729 square kilometres (43,911 sq mi),[1] making it the world's 14th-largest island. It has a population of 3,677,200 (June 2017).[2]

Twelve main urban areas (half of them officially cities) are in the North Island. From north to south, they are Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Napier, Hastings, Whanganui, Palmerston North, and Wellington, the capital, located at the south-west extremity of the island. About 77% of New Zealand's population lives in the North Island.

Naming and usage[edit]

Although the island has been known as the North Island for many years,[3] in 2009 the New Zealand Geographic Board found that, along with the South Island, the North Island had no official name.[4] After a public consultation, the board officially named the island North Island or Te Ika-a-Maui in October 2013.[5]

In prose, the two main islands of New Zealand are called the North Island and the South Island, with the definite articles. It is normal to use the preposition in rather than on, for example "Hamilton is in the North Island", "my mother lives in the North Island". Maps, headings, tables and adjectival expressions use North Island without the.

Māori mythology[edit]

According to Māori mythology, the North and South Islands of New Zealand arose through the actions of the demigod Māui. Māui and his brothers were fishing from their canoe (the South Island) when he caught a great fish and pulled it from the sea. While he was not looking his brothers fought over the fish and chopped it up. This great fish became the North Island and thus a Māori name for the North Island is Te Ika-a-Māui ("The Fish of Māui"). The mountains and valleys are believed to have been formed as a result of Māui's brothers' hacking at the fish. Until the early 20th Century, an alternative Māori name for the North Island was Aotearoa. In present usage, Aotearoa is a collective name for New Zealand as a whole.


The sub-national GDP of the North Island was estimated at US$102.863 billion in 2003, 79% of New Zealand's national GDP.[6]


The North Island is divided into two ecoregions within the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome, the northern part being the Northland temperate kauri forest, and the southern part being the North Island temperate forests. The island has an extensive flora and bird population, with numerous National Parks and other protected areas.


Territorial authorities of the North Island

Nine local government regions cover the North Island and all its adjacent islands and territorial waters.

Cities and towns[edit]

The North Island has a larger population than the South Island, with the country's largest city, Auckland, and the capital, Wellington, accounting for nearly half of it.

Map of the North Island showing some of its cities
Urban areas of the North Island by population
Urban areaRegionPopulation (June 2017)Urban areaRegionPopulation (June 2017)
1AucklandAuckland1,534,700 11WanganuiManawatu-Wanganui40,300
2WellingtonWellington412,500 12GisborneGisborne36,600
3HamiltonWaikato235,900 13PukekoheAuckland30,800
4TaurangaBay of Plenty137,900 14TaupoWaikato24,500
5Napier-HastingsHawke's Bay133,000 15MastertonWellington21,800
6Palmerston NorthManawatu-Wanganui85,300 16LevinManawatu-Wanganui20,900
7RotoruaBay of Plenty58,800 17WhakatāneBay of Plenty19,700
8New PlymouthTaranaki57,500 18FeildingManawatu-Wanganui16,550
9WhangareiNorthland57,700 19TokoroaWaikato13,950
10KapitiWellington42,300 20HaweraTaranaki11,950


Culture and identity[edit]

Ethnic groups of North Island residents, 2013 census[7]
   New Zealand European1,934,03763.4
   South African24,9210.8
   European (not further defined)20,9550.7
Pacific peoples274,8069.0
   Cook Islands Maori56,9101.9
Middle Eastern/Latin American/African39,5101.3
   New Zealander45,9061.5
Total people stated3,050,874100.0
Not elsewhere included186,1745.8


Healthcare in the North Island is provided by fifteen District Health Boards (DHBs). Organised around geographical areas of varying population sizes, they are not coterminous with the Local Government Regions.

District Health BoardDistrictPopulation
Northland District Health Board (Te Poari Hauora a Rohe o te Tai Tokerau)Whangarei District, Far North District, Kaipara District159,160
Waitemata District Health Board (Te Wai Awhina)Auckland Region525,000
Auckland District Health Board (Te Toka Tumai)Auckland Region468,000
Counties Manukau District Health Board (A Community Partnership)Auckland Region490,610
Waikato District Health Board (Waikato DHB)Hamilton City, Hauraki District, Matamata-Piako District, Otorohanga District, part of Ruapehu District, South Waikato, Thames-Coromandel District, Waikato District, Waipa District, Waitomo District372,865
Bay of Plenty District Health Board (Hauora a Toi)Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty District, Whakatāne District, Kawerau District, Opotiki District214,170
Lakes District Health Board (Lakes DHB)Rotorua District, Taupo District102,000
Tairawhiti District Health Board (Te Mana Hauora o te Tairawhiti)Gisborne District44,499
Hawke's Bay District Health Board (Whakawateatia)Napier City, Hastings District, Wairoa District, Central Hawke's Bay District, Chatham Islands155,000
Taranaki District Health Board (Taranaki DHB)New Plymouth District, Stratford District, South Taranaki District104,280
Whanganui District Health Board (Whanganui DHB)Wanganui District, Rangitikei District, part of Ruapehu District62,210
Mid Central District Health Board (Te Pae Hauora o Ruahine o Tararua)Palmerston North City, Horowhenua District, Manawatu District, Tararua District, part of Kapiti Coast District158,838
Wairarapa District Health Board (Te Poari Hauora a Rohe o Wairarapa)South Wairarapa District, Carterton District, Masterton District38,200
Hutt Valley District Health Board (Healthy People)Lower Hutt City, Upper Hutt City145,000
Capital and Coast District Health Board (Upoko ki te Uru Hauora)Wellington City, Porirua City, part of Kapiti Coast District270,000

Major geographic features[edit]

The North Island, in relation to the South Island

Bays and coastal features[edit]

Lakes and rivers[edit]

Capes and peninsulas[edit]

Forests and national parks[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Quick Facts - Land and Environment : Geography - Physical Features". Statistics New Zealand. 2000. Archived from the original on 8 April 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2017 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.  For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-16 (2017 boundary)". Statistics New Zealand. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017. 
  3. ^ On some 19th-century maps, the North Island is named New Ulster, which was also a province of New Zealand that included the North Island.
  4. ^ "The New Zealand Geographic Board Considers North and South Island Names". Land Information New Zealand. 21 April 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Two official options for NZ island names". The New Zealand Herald. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "Regional Gross Domestic Product". Statistics New Zealand. 2007. Archived from the original on 20 May 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Ethnic group (total responses), for the census usually resident population count, 2001, 2006, and 2013 Censuses (RC, TA, AU)". Statistics New Zealand. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°24′S 175°43′E / 38.400°S 175.717°E / -38.400; 175.717