North Island

The Champagne Pool at Waiotapu ("Sacred Waters") thermal area, near Rotorua

The North Island of New Zealand is warm, with scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland to active volcanic peaks. Although it is smaller than the South Island, it is much more populous, with half of New Zealand's population living north of Lake Taupo in the middle of the North Island.

The Māori population of the North Island is much larger than that of the South Island and, in the 2006 census, 24% said that they could carry out an everyday conversation in the Māori language. For more than two hundred years this island was known as Aotearoa, often translated as land of the long white cloud, by Māori. Recently, there has been an increase in use of the alternative name of Te Ika a Māui – "the fish of Maui". In 2009, the New Zealand Geographic Board discovered both the North and South Islands had never been officially named. In October 2013, the island was officially named North Island / Te Ika-a-Māui.


Regions of the North Island

The regions, listed from north to south (as best as possible), are:


Other destinations

Mount Ruapehu from the Desert Road in mid-January (summer)

Get in

By air

Auckland Airport

Auckland International Airport (IATA: AKL) is the primary arrival point, handling 70% of all tourist air travel, and is serviced by most major airlines. There are also international flights to Wellington airport.

By sea

A significant number of people arrive in Auckland by cruise ship.

Bluebridge and the Interislander ferry companies sail across Cook Strait from Picton in the South Island through the Marlborough Sounds to Wellington. The ferries take bikes, cars, buses and trains and the scenery on a good day is spectacular. The ferries are substantial ships designed for the sometimes rough conditions and the journey takes 3-3.5h.

Get around

The North Island is adequately serviced by many national bus companies.


The North Island may not be quite as well known for its outdoor attractions as the South Island, but it still has an impressive selection. As it has the greater share of the country's population it also has a good selection of urban sites.

Volcanoes and geothermal heat

Urban fare


Parks and gardens

Historic sites



Go next

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