The Northland Region (Māori: Te Tai-tokerau, also Te Hiku-o-te-Ika, 'the Tail of the Fish (of Maui)'), one of the 16 regions of New Zealand, is, as the name suggests, the northernmost of New Zealand's administrative regions. The main centre is the city of Whangarei.
Northland is located in what is often referred to by New Zealanders as the Far North, or, because of its mild climate, The Winterless North. It occupies the upper 80% of the 285 kilometre-long North Auckland Peninsula, the southernmost part of which is in the Auckland Region.
Stretching from a narrowing of the peninsula close to the town of Wellsford, Northland extends north to the tip of the North Auckland 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 main 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 of the region 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. 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 which is situated the region's largest population centre. Numerous islands also 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 points often confused in the public mind as being the country's northernmost points: Cape Maria van Diemen, Spirits Bay, Cape Reinga, and North Cape. The northernmost point of the North Island is actually the Surville Cliffs, close to North Cape, although the northernmost point of the country is further north in the Kermadec chain of islands. Cape Reinga and Spirits Bay do, however, have a symbolic part to play as the end of the country. In Māori mythology, it is from here that the souls of the dead depart on their journey to the afterlife.
The region has a sub-tropical climate with warm to hot humid summers and mild winters. Typical summer maxima range from 24 °C to 28 °C (72 °F to 79 °F). In winter, maxima are between 14 °C and 17 °C (57 °F and 63 °F). Ground frosts are virtually unknown in the region. The hottest months are January and February. Typical annual rainfall for the region is 1500–2000 mm. Winds are predominantly from the southwest. Occasionally, the region experiences stormy conditions from former cyclones which generally become much weaker once they leave tropical latitudes.
According to Māori legend, the North Island of New Zealand was an enormous fish, caught by the adventurer Māui. For this reason, Northland sometimes goes by the nickname of "The tail of the fish", Te Hiku o Te Ika.
Northland iwi claim that Kupe made landfall at the Hokianga (although others claim this was at Taipa) in the northwest of Northland, and thus the region claims that it was the birthplace of New Zealand. Some of the oldest traces of Māori kainga (fishing villages), can be found here.
If the Māori regard the region as the legendary birthplace of the country, there can be no doubt that it was the European starting-point for the modern nation of New Zealand. Traders, whalers and sealers were among the first arrivals, and the gum and timber of the mighty kauri trees brought more colonisers.
Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands can lay claim to being the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand, and contains many historic buildings, including the Stone Store, New Zealand's oldest extant building.
The nearby settlement of Waitangi was of even more significance, as the signing place of New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi between the Māori tribes and the British Crown, on February 6, 1840.
Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/
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