Population: Around 3,360,000
Size: 113,729sq km
Major cities: Auckland, Wellington
The North Island is where most New Zealanders live – around three quarters of the country’s total population live here, with most concentrated in the city of Auckland. Around 30 per cent of all Kiwis call the city home. Auckland is widely considered to be the commercial hub of New Zealand, and is the most cosmopolitan of the country’s cities, with large Polynesian and Asian communities.
Two harbours and plenty of beaches within the urban area contribute to Auckland’s nickname – the City of Sails. It boasts a great lifestyle, and was voted the world’s third most liveable city by the Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey in 2012.
The landscapes of the North Island are generally gentler than those of the South Island, but no less spectacular. North of Auckland lies Northland, famous for its golden sandy beaches and beautiful climate. Moving south, through the rolling green farmlands of the central North Island, and to the east, you’ll come to bustling Tauranga, one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cities, and then on down the east coast to the sophisticated town of Napier, which boasts beautiful Art Deco architecture as well as some of the best vineyards in the country.
The central North Island is rugged, featuring the amazing lunar-like landscapes and walking trails of the Tongariro National Park (a World Heritage Site) and the ski fields of Mount Ruapehu.
The North Island comes to a stop with the city of Wellington, perched on the south coast. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and, despite being much smaller and not having the commercial clout of Auckland, would certainly lay claim to being the country’s cultural centre. Wellington is home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the National Opera, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the country’s national museum, Te Papa. It’s a sophisticated, relaxed city, with a vibrant café and restaurant culture and a well deserved reputation as a thriving centre for music, cinema and the arts.
Though busier than the South Island the North Island still offers easy access to the great outdoor lifestyle New Zealand is so famous for, with great walking, diving, water sports, skiing or just general outdoor lazing within easy reach of all its towns and cities.