North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui)
Though slightly smaller than the South Island, the North Island harbours some 77% of NZ’s population. Of the country’s 20 biggest urban areas, 16 are on the North Island – including Auckland (with around one-third of the country’s population) and Wellington, the capital.
The legend goes that demi-god Māui and his brothers were fishing from their canoe (the South Island) when he caught a great fish and pulled it from the sea – thus the North Island became Te Ika-a-Māui – ‘the fish of Maui’ .
Certainly the North Island is a fertile place and has become a land of intensive agriculture – with green grass, sheep and dairy farming, orchards and vineyards in abundance.
The North Island also has a lot to offer the visitor: Auckland is a gorgeous city known as one of the ‘most liveable” in the world; the Bay of Islands is world renowned for its beauty; Rotorua offers Maori culture and geothermal hot springs; the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is often called NZ’s best dayhike; there are top vineyards and wineries on the East Coast around Napier and Gisborne; and Wellington is a lively, vibrant capital.