The Northland Region (Māori: Te Tai Tokerau) is the northernmost of New Zealand’s 16 local government regions. New Zealanders sometimes call it the Winterless North because of its mild climate. The main population centre is the city of Whangārei, and the largest town is Kerikeri.
The Northland 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, Northland Region extends north to the tip of the Northland Peninsula, covering an area of 13,940 km2, a little over five per cent of the country’s total area. It is bounded to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the east by the Pacific Ocean. The land is predominantly rolling hill country. Farming and forestry occupy over half of the land and are two of the region’s main industries.
Although many of the region’s kauri forests were felled during the 19th century, 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.
The western coast is dominated by several long straight beaches, the most famous of which is the inaccurately-named 88 km stretch of Ninety Mile Beach in the region’s far north. Two large inlets are also located on this coast, the massive Kaipara Harbour in the south and the convoluted inlets of the Hokianga Harbour.
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 northernmost point of the country is further north, in the Kermadec chain of islands. Cape Reinga and Spirits Bay, however, have a symbolic part to play as the end of the country. In Māori mythology, it is from here that the souls of the dead depart on their journey to the afterlife.
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