North Island

The North Island, also officially named Te Ika-a-Māui, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the larger but much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island's area is, making it the world's 14th-largest island. It has a population of
Twelve main urban areas 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 % of New Zealand's population lives in the North Island.

Naming and usage

Although the island has been known as the North Island for many years, in 2009 the New Zealand Geographic Board found that, along with the South Island, the North Island had no official name. After a public consultation, the board officially named the island North Island or Te Ika-a-Maui in October 2013.
In prose, the two main islands of New Zealand are called the North Island and the South Island, with the definite article. It is also 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

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 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 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 Māori 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.


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.


Nine local government regions cover the North Island and all its adjacent islands and territorial waters.
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.
There are 28 urban areas in the North Island with a population of 10,000 or more:
% of island
Lower Hutt%
Palmerston North%
New Plymouth%
Hibiscus Coast%
Upper Hutt%
Havelock North%
Te Awamutu%


Culture and identity


Healthcare in the North Island is provided by fifteen District Health Boards. Organised around geographical areas of varying population sizes, they are not coterminous with the Local Government Regions.
District Health BoardDistrictPopulation
Northland District Health Board Whangarei District, Far North District, Kaipara District159,160
Waitemata District Health Board Auckland Region525,000
Auckland District Health Board Auckland Region468,000
Counties Manukau District Health Board Auckland Region490,610
Waikato District Health Board 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 Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty District, Whakatāne District, Kawerau District, Opotiki District214,170
Lakes District Health Board Rotorua Lakes, Taupo District102,000
Tairawhiti District Health Board Gisborne District44,499
Hawke's Bay District Health Board Napier City, Hastings District, Wairoa District, Central Hawke's Bay District, Chatham Islands155,000
Taranaki District Health Board New Plymouth District, Stratford District, South Taranaki District104,280
Whanganui District Health Board Wanganui District, Rangitikei District, part of Ruapehu District62,210
Mid Central District Health Board Palmerston North City, Horowhenua District, Manawatu District, Tararua District, part of Kapiti Coast District158,838
Wairarapa District Health Board South Wairarapa District, Carterton District, Masterton District38,200
Hutt Valley District Health Board Lower Hutt City, Upper Hutt City145,000
Capital and Coast District Health Board Wellington City, Porirua City, part of Kapiti Coast District270,000

Major geographic features

Bays and coastal features