The Northland Region (Maori: Te Tai Tokerau, also Te Hiku-o-te-Ika, "the Tail of the Fish" (of Maui)) often referred to by New Zealanders as the Far North, or, because of its mild climate, the Winterless North occupies the northern 80% (265 kilometres) of the 330 kilometre-long Northland Peninsula, the southernmost part of which is in the Auckland Region. The main population centre is the city of Whangarei, and the largest town is Kerikeri.
Stretching from a line where the peninsula narrows to a width of just 15 kilometres a little north of the town of Wellsford, the 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 primary 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, Tane 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-kilometre-long 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, past the famous Bay of Islands down to Whangarei Harbour, on the shores of the largest population centre. Numerous islands dot this coast, notably the Cavalli Islands, the Hen and Chickens 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 often confused in the public mind as being the country's northernmost points: Cape Maria van Diemen, Spirits Bay, Cape Reinga, and North Cape.
Northland is New Zealand's least urbanised region, with Whangarei as the largest urban area. The region's population is concentrated mainly along the east coast. During the five years up to 2006, Northland recorded a population growth of 6.0 per cent, slightly below the national average. Northland includes one of the fastest-growing towns in New Zealand, Mangawhai, which is expanding rapidly due to residential and subsequent commercial development.
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