The Northland Region[4] (Māori: Te Tai Tokerau) is the northernmost of New Zealand's 16 local government regions. New Zealanders sometimes refer to it as the Winterless North because of its mild climate all throughout the year. The main population centre is the city of Whangārei, and the largest town is Kerikeri. At the 2018 New Zealand census, Northland recorded a population growth spurt of 18.1% since the previous 2013 census, placing it as the fastest growing region in New Zealand, ahead of other strong growth regions such as the Bay of Plenty Region (2nd with 15%) and Waikato (3rd with 13.5%).[5]

Northland Region
Te Tai Tokerau
Northland landscape at Parua Bay
Northland landscape at Parua Bay
Our Northland - together we thrive
Northland within the North Island, New Zealand
Northland within the North Island, New Zealand
CountryNew Zealand
 • TypeRegional council
 • BodyNorthland Regional Council
 • ChairPenny Smart
 • Deputy chairJustin Blaikie
 • Total13,789 km2 (5,324 sq mi)
 • Land12,507.89 km2 (4,829.32 sq mi)
 (June 2023)[1]
 • Total203,900
 • Density15/km2 (38/sq mi)
 • TotalNZ$ 9.321 billion (2021)
 • Per capitaNZ$ 46,611 (2021)
HDI (2021)0.904[3]
very high · 14th
A map showing population density in the Northland Region at the 2006 census



The Northland Region occupies the northern 80% (265 kilometres (165 mi)) of the 330 kilometres (210 mi) Northland Peninsula, the southernmost part of which is in the Auckland Region.[6] 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.[6]

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[7] south of the Hokianga Harbour. These kauri forests are also home to Te Raupua at 781 metres (2,562 ft), the highest point in the region. Northland has many endemic plant and invertebrate species[8] such as the endangered snail pūpū harakeke (Placostylus ambagiosus), stick insects and the Northland green tree gecko (Naultinus grayii).[9]

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. The slightly longer Ripiro Beach lies further south. Two large inlets are also located on this coast, the massive Kaipara Harbour in the south, which Northland shares with the Auckland Region, 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 Parengarenga close to the region's northern tip, then Whangaroa Harbour, and past the famous Bay of Islands down to Whangārei Harbour, on the shores of which is situated the largest population centre. Numerous islands dot this coast, notably the Cavalli Islands, the Hen and Chicken Islands, Aorangaia Island and the Poor Knights Islands.

The northernmost points of the North Island mainland lie at the top of Northland. These include several points often confused in the public mind as being the country's northernmost points: Cape Maria van Diemen, Spirits Bay, Cape Reinga, and North Cape. The northernmost point of the North Island is actually 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.



The region of Northland has an oceanic climate (Cfb in the Köppen climate classification), but a subtropical climate in the Trewartha climate classification, with warm humid summers and mild wet winters. Due to its latitude and low elevation, Northland has the country's highest average annual temperature.[10] However, as with other parts of New Zealand, climate conditions are variable. In summer, temperatures range from 22 °C to 26 °C, occasionally rising above 30 °C. In winter, maximum temperatures vary between 13 °C and 19 °C, while minima vary between 6 °C and 11 °C.[11]

Ground frosts are rare due to the region being encircled by the moderating Pacific and Tasman waters, but light frosts do occur infrequently around Dargaville in the lowlands.[10] The hottest months are January and February. In January 2009, excessive sunlight hours and below-average rainfall resulted in the region being declared a drought zone.[12]

Typical annual rainfall for the region is 1500–2000 mm but varies at different altitudes.[13] Northland has an average of 2000 sunshine hours annually.[14] Winds are predominantly from the southwest. Occasionally in summer, the region experiences stormy conditions from former cyclones which generally become much weaker once they leave tropical latitudes.[11]



The Northland Region has been governed by the present Northland Regional Council since 1989.[4] The seat of the council is in Whangārei.

Regional council members represent 8 constituencies: Far North, Bay of Islands-Whangaroa, Mid North, Coastal Central, Coastal South, Whangārei City, Kaipara and Te Raki.

There are three territorial authorities in the region:

Until 1989 Northland was governed by several councils and an earlier Northland Regional Council known as the Northland United Council.[4] (It had been part of Auckland Province from 1853 until government was centralised in 1876. Long after Auckland Province ceased, the region continued to be known as North Auckland.)[15] In 1989, Kaitaia Borough, Mangonui County, Whangaroa County, Bay of Islands County, Hokianga County, and Kaikohe Borough were amalgamated to become the Far North District. Whangarei City, Whangarei County, and Hikurangi Town Councils became the Whangarei District, with Dargaville Borough and Otamatea County becoming the Kaipara District. The Northland Regional Council became a tier of local government above these territorial authorities.

A proposal to merge the three district councils and the regional council into a unitary authority to be known as the Northland Council was rejected by the Local Government Commission in June 2015.[16]



Northland Region covers 12,507.89 km2 (4,829.32 sq mi)[17] and had an estimated population of 203,900 as of June 2023,[1] with a population density of 16 people per km2.

Ethnicities, 2023 Census
Ethnicity Population
New Zealand European
Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [18][19][20]
Mature kauri tree (Agathis australis)

Northland had a population of 194,007 in the 2023 New Zealand census, an increase of 14,931 people (8.3%) since the 2018 census, and an increase of 42,318 people (27.9%) since the 2013 census. There were 88,092 dwellings. The median age was 43.2 years (compared with 38.1 years nationally). There were 38,070 people (19.6%) aged under 15 years, 29,859 (15.4%) aged 15 to 29, 83,790 (43.2%) aged 30 to 64, and 42,291 (21.8%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 73.0% European/Pākehā, 37.4% Māori, 4.9% Pasifika, 4.8% Asian, and 0.7% Middle Eastern, Latin American and African New Zealanders, and 1.1% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.[18]

In the 2018 census, Northland Region had a population of 179,076 at the 2018 New Zealand census. There were 64,257 households. There were 88,701 males and 90,375 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.98 males per female.

The proportion of people born overseas was 15.8%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 49.7% had no religion, 35.6% were Christian, 3.9% had Māori religious beliefs, 0.6% were Hindu, 0.2% were Muslim, 0.5% were Buddhist and 1.7% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 20,622 (14.6%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 30,210 (21.4%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $24,800, compared with $31,800 nationally. 16,284 people (11.5%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 60,396 (42.7%) people were employed full-time, 21,138 (14.9%) were part-time, and 7,380 (5.2%) were unemployed.[21]

Māori refer to Northland – and by extension its Māori people – as Te Taitokerau (the northern tide) and Māori language and traditions are strong there.[22] Major tribal groups include Ngāpuhi, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Kurī and Ngāti Whātua.[23] Several of these tribes form a loose association known as the Muriwhenua.[24]

Approximately one third of the region's population are Māori; the majority of the remainder is of European lineage. Compared to the rest of the country, Pacific Islanders are under-represented in Northland.[25] Although most of the region's European population are British (as is true with the rest of the country), certain other ethnicities are represented as well. These include a sizeable Croatian community from the Dargaville area north, particularly around Kaitaia.[26]

Largest groups of overseas-born residents[27]
Nationality Population (2018)
England 8,607
Australia 3,429
South Africa 1,923
India 1,365
United States 1,059
Philippines 1,014
Netherlands 957
Germany 909
Scotland 804
Fiji 729

Urban areas


Northland is New Zealand's least urbanised region, with 50% of the population of 203,900 living in urban areas. Whangārei is the largest urban area of Northland, with a population of 56,900 (June 2023).[1] The region's population is largely concentrated along the east coast, due to the west coast being more ragged and less suitable for urbanisation.

Urban area Population
(June 2023)[1]
% of region
Whangārei 56,900 27.9%
Kerikeri 8,270 4.1%
Kaitaia 6,390 3.1%
Dargaville 5,130 2.5%
Kaikohe 4,980 2.4%
Ruakākā 2,930 1.4%
One Tree Point 3,070 1.5%
Mangawhai Heads 2,800 1.4%
Moerewa 2,090 1.0%
Hikurangi 1,780 0.9%
Opua 1,720 0.8%
Paihia 1,720 0.8%
Kawakawa 1,670 0.8%
Ngunguru 1,270 0.6%
Haruru 1,210 0.6%
Waipu 1,350 0.7%


Kerikeri, Bay of Islands. Stone Store (left), St James (rear), and the country's oldest surviving building, Mission House (right).

According to Māori legend, the North Island of New Zealand was an enormous fish, caught by the demigod Māui. For this reason, Northland is sometimes referred to as "The tail of the fish", Te Hiku o Te Ika.

Northland iwi claim that Kupe made landfall at the Hokianga (although others claim this was at Taipa) in the northwest of Northland, and thus the region claims that it was the birthplace of New Zealand. Some of the oldest traces of Māori kāinga (fishing villages) can be found here.

If the Māori regard the region as the legendary birthplace of the country, there can be no doubt that it was the European starting-point for the modern nation of New Zealand. Traders, whalers and sealers were among the first arrivals, and the gum and timber of the mighty kauri trees brought more colonisers.

In the Bay of Islands, Russell, formerly known as Kororareka, was the first permanent European settlement and Kerikeri contains many historic buildings, including the Stone Store, New Zealand's oldest extant building. The nearby settlement of Waitangi was of even more significance, as the signing place of New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi between the Māori tribes and the British Crown, on 6 February 1840.

Between 1870 and 1920, the major industry in Northland was kauri gum digging, which by the 1910s was centred around the townships of Ahipara and Houhora.[28]



The subnational gross domestic product (GDP) of Northland was estimated at NZ$7.86 billion in the year to March 2019, 2.6% of New Zealand's national GDP. The regional GDP per capita was estimated at $42,104 in 2019, the lowest of all New Zealand regions. In the year to March 2018, primary industries contributed $984 million (13.1%) to the regional GDP, goods-producing industries contributed $1.59 billion (21.2%), service industries contributed $4.30 billion (57.1%), and taxes and duties contributed $645 million (8.6%)[29]

Fence on a sheep farm

The region's economy is based on agriculture (notably beef cattle and sheep), fishing, forestry, and horticulture. Northland has 4,423 hectares (10,930 acres) of horticultural land as of 2017. Significant crops include avocadoes, kumara, kiwifruit, citrus fruit and olives.[30][31]

Extensive forests are a feature of the Northland landscape. For this reason wood and paper manufacturing industries also make a large contribution to the region's economy.[30] The railway system, which once ran as far north as Donnellys Crossing, has been historically important for the transport of timber via Dargaville to Auckland.

Northland is a favourite tourist destination, especially to the Bay of Islands and the historic town of Kerikeri. Diving and fishing are also popular visitor activities, especially around the Bay of Islands and the Poor Knights Islands.

Northland was formerly home to New Zealand's only oil refinery, located in Marsden Point, a town, close to Whangārei across the harbour. New Zealand's natural fuel resources in Taranaki account for a little under half of the refinery's intake, with the rest coming predominantly from the Middle East. The nearby Marsden A thermal power station originally utilised heavy oil from the refinery for electricity production, but no longer does so.[32]

Notable people



  1. ^ a b c d "Subnational population estimates (RC, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (regional councils); "Subnational population estimates (TA, SA2), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (territorial authorities); "Subnational population estimates (urban rural), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996-2023 (2023 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023. (urban areas)
  2. ^ "Regional gross domestic product: Year ended March 2022". Statistics New Zealand. 24 March 2023. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 18 February 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "The Local Government (Northland Region) Reorganisation Order 1989". New Zealand Gazette: 2391 ff. 9 June 1989.
  5. ^ "Northern regions lead population growth | Stats NZ". Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b Orange, Claudia (13 July 2012). "Northland region – Geography". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  7. ^ Hodsell, Peter; Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Tāne Mahuta, Waipoua kauri forest". Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  8. ^ Taylor-Smith, Briar; Morgan-Richards, Mary; Trewick, Steven A. (2019). "Patterns of regional endemism among New Zealand invertebrates". New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 47: 1–19. doi:10.1080/03014223.2019.1681479. ISSN 0301-4223. S2CID 208600157.
  9. ^ Nielsen, Stuart V.; Bauer, Aaron M.; Jackman, Todd R.; Hitchmough, Rod A.; Daugherty, Charles H. (2011). "New Zealand geckos (Diplodactylidae): Cryptic diversity in a post-Gondwanan lineage with trans-Tasman affinities". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 59 (1): 1–22. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.12.007. PMID 21184833.
  10. ^ a b "Living in Northland". Northland District Health Board. 2 March 2009. Archived from the original on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  11. ^ a b Orange, Claudia (2 March 2009). "Northland region – Natural environment". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Drought confirms Northland as NZ's hottest place in 2009". The Northern Advocate. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  13. ^ Chappell, P.R. (2013). "The Climate and Weather of Northland" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 February 2023.
  14. ^ "NorthlandNZ – Climate". Destination Northland. Archived from the original on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  15. ^ Franklin, Samuel Harvey (1966). "North Auckland region". In McLintock, A. H. (ed.). An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
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  17. ^ "ArcGIS Web Application". Retrieved 26 February 2022.
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  19. ^ "StatsMaps – 2013 Census population and dwelling map". Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  20. ^ "2001 Census: Regional summary". Archived from the original on 29 September 2020. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  21. ^ "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Northland Region (01). 2018 Census place summary: Northland Region
  22. ^ Orange, Claudia (2 March 2009). "Northland region – Overview". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  23. ^ "Te Taitokerau". Te Puni Kōkiri/Ministry for Māori Development. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  24. ^ "Muriwhenua tribes". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  25. ^ "Pacific Islanders and Asians among Northland's changing ethnic diversity". NZ Herald. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  26. ^ "Croatian settlement in New Zealand". The Beehive. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  27. ^ "Birthplace (detailed), for the census usually resident population count, 2006, 2013, and 2018 Censuses (RC, TA, SA2, DHB)". Statistics New Zealand.
  28. ^ Hayward, Bruce W. (1989). Kauri Gum and the Gumdiggers. The Bush Press. p. 43-44. ISBN 0-908608-39-X.
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  31. ^ "Fresh Facts: New Zealand Horticulture" (PDF). Plant & Food Research. 2018. ISSN 1177-2190.
  32. ^ "Shareholders vote to close Marsden Point refinery, cutting 1 million tonnes CO2 emissions from NZ books". Newsroom. 6 August 2021. Retrieved 27 November 2021.

35°35′S 173°58′E / 35.58°S 173.97°E / -35.58; 173.97