The Northland Region (Te Tai Tokerau in Māori) is the northernmost of New Zealand’s 16 local government regions. It’s often referred to by New Zealanders as the Winterless North, due to its mild climate. The main population centre is the city of Whangārei, and the largest town is Kerikeri.
The region occupies the northern 80% (265 km) of the 330 km Northland Peninsula, the southernmost part of which is in the Auckland Region. Stretching from a line at which the peninsula narrows to a width of just 15 km a little north of the town of Wellsford, it extends north to the tip of the Northland Peninsula, covering an area of 13,940 km2. A little over 5% of the country’s total area. Bounded to the west by the Tasman Sea and the east by the Pacific Ocean, the land is predominantly rolling hill country. Farming and forestry occupy over half the land and are two of the region’s main industries.
During the 19th century, tragically many of the region’s native kauri tree forests were felled. Thankfully some areas still exist where this rare giant grows tall. New Zealand’s largest tree, Tāne Mahuta, stands in the Waipoua Forest south of the Hokianga Harbour.
Several long straight beaches dominate the western coast. The most famous is the inaccurately-named 88 km stretch of Ninety Mile Beach in the region’s far north. Located on this coast are two large inlets. The massive Kaipara Harbour in the south and the Hokianga Harbour’s convoluted inlets.
The east coast is more rugged and is dotted with bays and peninsulas. Several large natural harbours are found on this coast, from Whangaroa Harbour and past the famous Bay of Islands down to Whangārei Harbour. Numerous islands dot this coast, notably the Hen and Chicken Islands and the Poor Knights Islands.
The northernmost points of the North Island mainland lie at the Surville Cliffs, close to North Cape, although the country’s northernmost point is further north, in the Kermadec chain of islands. However, Cape Reinga and Spirits Bay have a symbolic part to play as the end of the country. In Māori mythology, it is from here the souls of the dead depart on their journey to the afterlife.
We visited Northland and the kauri coast in October 2020, and adored it.
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