North Island of New Zealand

The North Island of New Zealand is a place of wonder, adventure, and culture. It is the smaller but more populous of the two main islands, with a diverse and scenic landscape, a rich and vibrant history, and a warm and hospitable people. Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway, an exhilarating thrill, or a cultural immersion, the North Island has something for everyone!

An Overview of the North Island of New Zealand

North Island of New Zealand Location:The North Island of New Zealand is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, separated from the South Island by the Cook Strait.
Island Size (km2):113,729 km2 (43,911 sq mi), which is 44% of New Zealand’s land area!
Population:The North Island has a population of 3,997,300 as of June 2023, which is 77% of New Zealand’s total population of 5.2 million!
Regions of the North Island of New Zealand:Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Manawatū-Whanganui, Wellington
Main Cities and Towns in the South Island:Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Hastings, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Whanganui, and Rotorua
An infographic showing the popular destinations of the North Island of New Zealand

Upper North Island

The Upper North Island of New Zealand is a region of stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and the vibrant and bustling Auckland city. It covers the area from Auckland, the largest and most multicultural city in the country, to the stunning Northland region, the northernmost point of New Zealand. This area is known for it’s beautiful weather, with hot summers and mild winters.


Auckland, North Island of New Zealand

Auckland is the largest and most populous city in New Zealand, located on the North Island. It is a vibrant and diverse city, with a rich Māori and Pacific heritage, a thriving arts and culture scene, and stunning natural attractions. Auckland is surrounded by water, with two harbours, the Waitematā and the Manukau, and many islands, such as Waiheke and RangitotoAuckland is also home to the Sky Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Northland and Bay of Islands

Northland Region, North Island of New Zealand

The Northland peninsula is the northernmost region of New Zealand, and stretches all the way from the stunning coastal town of Mangawhai up to Cape Reinga! This region is stunning, with golden beaches in the Bay of Islands, to dense forests of ancient Kauri trees. It also is a place of historical significance, and you can visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the founding document of New Zealand was signed!

Central North Island

The Central North Island is an area of stunning natural beauty, diverse attractions, and rich cultural heritage. It spans from the golden beaches of the Coromandel in the Waikato region to the alpine forests of the dramatic Tongariro National Park. The climate is temperate, with mild winters and snow around the mountains!) and warm summers.


Hobbiton in Waikato, North Island of New Zealand

The Waikato Region is found in the west of the North Island, and is named after the mighty Waikato River! It is a diverse and scenic region, with beaches, orchards, waterfalls, and geothermal wonders. Some of the most popular attractions in Waikato include the stunning Coromandel Peninsula, and Hobbiton, from the Lord of the Rings! Waikato is also home to the Waitomo Caves, where visitors can see incredible glowworms during a tour of the caves.

The Coromandel

The Coromandel North Island of New Zealand

The Coromandel Peninsula is a popular tourist destination for beach lovers, hikers, and artists! It is known for its incredible scenery, pristine white-sand beaches, native forests, and laid-back vibe. Some of the most popular attractions in the Coromandel are the incredible Cathedral Cove rock formations and Hot Water Beach!

Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty North Island of New Zealand

The Bay of Plenty region stretches along the northern coast of the North Island, and is a diverse and stunning region of New Zealand! It is home to many towns and cities, including the coastal city of Tauranga, and Rotarua, a geothermal wonderland and a centre of Maori Culture. It is known for its warm climate and its orchards – it is one of the biggest producers of kiwifruit in the world! The Bay of Plenty also has many islands, along its coastline, including White Island – an active volcano!


Rotarua North Island of New Zealand

Rotarua is a city nestled on the southern shores of Lake Rotarua, in the Bay of Plenty region. It is one of the most visited places in New Zealand, due to its unique geothermal features, such as geysers, hot springs, mud pools, and fumaroles. Rotarua is also a hub of Maori culture, with many marae, cultural performances, and artworks around the city.


Taupo North Island of New Zealand

Taupo is a charming town on the north-eastern shore of Lake Taupo, the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and a crater of a massive volcanic eruption! It  is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and skiing. It makes a good base to stay at, as it is also close to many natural attractions, such as the Huka Falls and the Tongariro National Park. Taupo has a vibrant town centre, with fantastic cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops to explore.


Gisbourne North Island of New Zealand

Gisborne is a city on the east coast of the North Island, at the northern end of Poverty Bay. It is the first city in the world to see the sunrise each day, and has a sunny and warm climate.

Gisborne is known for its wine industry, especially its chardonnay, and its incredible surf beaches, such as Wainui and Makorori.

East Cape

East Cape North Island of New Zealand

The East Cape is the easternmost point of the North Island, and one of the most remote and unspoilt regions in New Zealand. It is a place of rugged beauty, with steep hills, rocky shores, and pristine forests. The East Cape has a strong Māori presence and identity, and many of its towns and villages have a traditional and rural character. It is also home to the East Cape Lighthouse, the first lighthouse in the world to see the sunrise! It is a great place to experience the authentic New Zealand experience.

Lower North Island

The Lower North Island is an area of diverse and scenic landscapes, vibrant and cosmopolitan cities, and historic and cultural significance. It covers the area from Taranaki, a region known for it’s dramatic volcano, beautiful national parks, and surfing locations, to Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand and a hub of creativity and innovation. The climate is maritime, with cool winters and mild summers. 


Taranaki North Island of New Zealand

Taranaki is a region along the west coast of the North Island, and is named after the magnificent volcano Mount Taranaki that dominates the skyline of the region! The main city in the Taranaki region is New Plymouth, which is known for it’s amazing coastal walkway, surfing spots, and botanical gardens. This region also is home to many natural and cultural attractions, such as the Egmont National Park, the Puke Ariki Museum, and the Parihaka Pa, a historic Māori settlement.

Tongariro and Ruapehu

Tongaririo North Island of New Zealand

In the heart of the North Island of New Zealand you will find the Tongariro region. This dramatic region is centered on the Tongariro National Park, which is the oldest national park in New Zealand! It has three active volcanoes, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro, and many spectacular landscapes, such as alpine meadows, volcanic craters, and glacial lakes. Tongariro is a paradise for hikers, with many different trails, such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the best one-day hikes in the world!

Hawke’s Bay

Hawkes Bay North Island of New Zealand

Hawkes Bay is a region on the east coast of the North Island, and is known for it’s beautiful sunny, dry climate! It is one of the leading wine regions in New Zealand, with over 70 wineries and a reputation for its merlot, syrah, and chardonnay. Hawkes Bay also has a vibrant art deco and heritage scene, especially in Napier, which was rebuilt in the 1930’s after a devastating earthquake. This incredible style is celebrated annually in the fantastic Art Deco Festival, as is popular with locals and tourists alike!


Manawatu-Whanganui North Island of New Zealand

Manawatu-Whanganui is a region in the lower North Island, named after the Manawatu and Whanganui rivers, which flow through it. It has a population of 243,500 and a diverse economy based on agriculture, manufacturing, education, and tourism. It is also home to the New Zealand Defence Force, with bases in Linton, Ohakea, and Waiouru! One of the most popular tourist destinations in this region is the beautiful Whanganui National Park.


Wairarapa North Island of New Zealand

Wairarapa is a remote and stunning region in the south-east corner of the North Island of New Zealand, and is known for its rural character. It is known for it’s wine-industry with over 50 wineries and a focus on Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.

Wairarapa also has a rich history and heritage, with many historic buildings, museums, and marae. It has a diverse landscape, including the stunning Lake Wairarapa and the Putangirua Pinnacles (which were used as a filming location for Lord of the Rings!) Another must-do when exploring this region is heading to the remote Cape Palliser Lighthouse, which has incredible views and a local seal colony!


Wellington, North Island of New Zealand

Wellington is nestled at the south-western tip of the North Island, and is New Zealand’s capital city! It has a diverse and youthful culture, with a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, a thriving film industry, and many festivals and events! It is home to the the incredible Te Papa Museum, as well as the New Zealand Parliament.

Wellington is also a nature lovers paradise! Set in the stunning Wellington Harbour, it is surrounded by water, and has some spectacular coastline! It also is known for its incredible green spaces, such as the Botanical Gardens, Zealandia, and the Mount Victoria Lookout. You’ll always find something to do and see while while visiting Wellington!