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Overview

The Northland Region (Māori: Te Taitokerau, also Te HikuoteIka, 'the Tail of the Fish (of Maui)'), is one of 16 regions in New Zealand. It is, as the name suggests, the northernmost of New Zealand's administrative regions, the main centre being the city of Whangarei Northland is a beautiful place steeped in Maori history and boasting many scenic wonders.

It features golden sunny beaches, pristine forests, hidden coves and unique harbours. The clear, tranquil waters are just waiting for aquatic sports enthusiasts to start surfing, scuba diving, sailing or fishing. The water is also a haven for marine life such as dolphins, and swimmers can enjoy frolicking in close proximity with them at several locations. Northland is also where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. The Bay of Islands is the one of the most popular Northland destinations, featuring 144 different islands containing all types of unique flora and fauna. Over on the west coast there are giant kauri trees and vast undulating sand dunes that are forever being sculptured by the wind. The northern tip of New Zealand, known as Cape Reinga, is a rare place where one can see the waves of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea collide in a graceful dance of power and might. There is something for everyone in Northland and all visitors are welcomed with open arms and embraced by the local people. Come and see what they can offer you; it’s a place where New Zealand comes to life.

Local Employment

There are many restaurants, cafes, hotels and lodges in Northland. The busiest time in this area is summer. The region boasts everything from exclusive lodges to everyday cafes. This is a wonderful place to work if you love water sports and the great outdoors.

Other areas of employment are available on day charters from dinner cruises to sailing and diving. Northland is a favourite tourist destination, especially the Bay of Islands and the historic town of Kerikeri. Diving and fishing are particularly popular visitor activities, especially around the Bay of Islands and the Poor Knights Islands chain. The region's economy is based on agriculture (notably beef cattle), fishing, forestry, and horticulture. Citrus fruit makes up the majority of the latter industry, with lemons, oranges and tamarillos all being produced. Avocados are widely grown, as well as kumara (especially in Ruawai part of the Kaipara district). Olive groves flourish on the Aupouri Peninsula.

Population

Population: 155,800 June 2009 estimate.

Northland is New Zealand's least urbanised region, with only some 50% of the population of 155,800 living in urban areas. Of these areas, Whangarei is the largest, with a population of 51,400 (June 2009 estimates). In the rest of the region only eight other centres have populations of more than 1000: Russell, Kaitaia, Dargaville, Kaikohe, Paihia, Kerikeri, TaipaMangonui, and Kawakawa. The population is largely concentrated along the region's east coast. During the five years up to 2006, Northland recorded a population growth of 6.0 percent, slightly below the national average but conversely the region includes one of the fastestgrowing towns in New Zealand, the coastal paradise of Mangawhai, which is expanding rapidly due to residential and consequent commercial development. Over the last 10 years Northland's population has defied national (and worldwide) trends by becoming increasingly rural. Approximately onethird of the region's population is Māori, the majority of the remainder being of European lineage. Compared to the rest of the country Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in Northland. Although most of the region's European population are of British stock (as is true with the rest of the country), certain other ethnicities have left their mark on the Northland racial mix. Of these the most influential have probably been the Dalmatian community from the Dargaville area north, with a particularly strong heritage around Kaitaia.

Land Area: 13,789 km²

Main Centres: Whangarei, Paihia, Russell, Kerikeri, Kaikohe, Kaitaia, Hokianga.

History

The region of Northland and the Bay of Islands stretches north from Auckland, towards the warm waters of Polynesia, the ancestral home of New Zealand's first inhabitants. 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 tree still stands tall, including New Zealand's largest tree, Tane Mahuta, a magnet for visitors in the Waipoua Forest, south of the Hokianga Harbour. There is also a deep appreciation of the region's fascinating Maori and European history. It is believed that the first Polynesian voyagers arrived in this region during the 11th century, but it wasn't until after the landing of the British sea voyager Captain Cook in 1769 that missionaries, whalers and traders arrived. The Treaty of Waitangi, the document that founded bicultural New Zealand, was signed in the Bay of Islands in 1840. The legacy of Northland's earliest European settlers can be seen in the form of historical buildings and museums that provide a unique insight into colonial New Zealand. The region brims with historical and cultural significance.

Activities: What to do there?

Much of Northlands' extensive coastline remains unspoilt an aquatic playground for adventure activities and escapist relaxation. Whangarei and Opua are renowned throughout the Pacific as attractive havens for yachts. If you have a passion for water sports, surfing, boating, game fishing, sailing and diving are all a way of daily life.

You'll find, too, that Maori culture is still very much alive in this region (32 percent of the population are Maori), and you'll also enjoy the shopping, dining and entertainment possibilities that stem from the distinctive local culture that embraces art, creativity, organic farming and alternative thinking. There is diversity everywhere, from Kaitaia, the most northern major town in New Zealand; Kerikeri, producer of art and fruit; Paihia, gateway to the Bay of Islands; Whangarei, New Zealand's northernmost city; Dargaville, heart of the Kauri Coast; to the Bay of Islands, the tourism hub that includes Kerikeri, Paihia, Waitangi and Russell. The highlights are Cape Reinga andNinety Mile Beach. Poor Knights Islands are a marine reserve fantastic for diving. The Hole in the Rock (Paihia) is a highspeed powerboat adventure. Sail NZ On the Edge (Paihia), New Zealand’s fastest commercial catamaran or visit Eagles Nest (Russell) for a luxury spa. Kauri Cliffs (Matauri Bay) is a golf course that attracts the rich and famous with its spa and lodge. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are the site where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. The Kauri Museum at Matakohe is a theme museum that tells the story of pioneering settlers. The jewel in Northland’s crown is undoubtedly the Bay of Islands, with 144 islands set in beautiful clear waters boasting fantastic diving.

Entertainment

Northland’s galleries and museums are filled with artistic treasures, many influenced by the strong cultural feeling that pervades the district. The art of Northland is an interesting insight into the region and is as diverse as its people. The region has an excellent arts profile. It has an expansive collection of community arts organisations through to internationally recognised artists; the choice is extensive and varied.

There are artists over the entire region who host a remarkable array of art activities. Festivals, events and performances endorsing the arts are sprinkled throughout the year, offering an opportunity to enjoy the best of our actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists. Northland is a destination for the interactive traveller. The depth and breadth of authentic arts and culture on offer enhances the region’s outdoor activities and extraordinary landscape. Many bars, pubs here have a wonderful selection of good live music, ranging from rock and country to traditional. There is also a show called Culture North (Waitangi) which depicts New Zealand’s culture stories.

Check out www.culturenorth.co.nz

Transport

Airports: Whangarei, Kerikeri (Bay of Islands) and Kaitaia, with regular scheduled flights to and from Auckland on Air New Zealand. Air charter companies also provide flights into the region.These regional airports offer a number of domestic flights daily. (There are no international flights available). The nearest international airport is Auckland.

www.auckland-airport.co.nz

Roads: From Auckland, State Highway 1 is on the east coast and State Highway 12 on the west coast. All state highways are good roads. These two highways form the Twin Coast Discovery Highway touring route.

Buses: Buses and coach services operate between the larger centres in the region. Several companies provide regular scheduled passenger services to and from the Northland region. Reservations are recommended. Guided coach tours provide comfort and relaxation with informative commentary and insight into local history and culture.

Ferries: Vehicle ferries operate across the Hokianga Harbour between Rawene and Kohukohu, and across the bay between Opua and Okiato (bookings not required). Passenger services operate between Paihia and Russell. There are three short ferry trips available in Northland. Passenger services between Paihia and Russell operate frequently from about 7am each day. Two vehicle ferries operate in the region and they are suitable for all vehicles. One crosses the bay between Opua and Okiato, en route to Russell, Bay of Islands. The other traverses the picturesque Hokianga Harbour between Rawene and Kohukohu. Bookings not required. Pay on board each vessel.

Cycling: Explore Northland’s natural beauty by bike. The region’s wonderful temperate climate (New Zealanders have dubbed the region “The Winterless North’’) makes cycling an excellent way to see the area. There is advice on routes and road conditions on the Northland website.

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