The Northland Region occupies the northern 80% (265 kilometres) of the 330 kilometre-long Northland Peninsula, the southernmost part of which is in the Auckland Region. Stretching from a line where the peninsula narrows to a width of just 15 kilometres a little north of the town of Wellsford, Northland Region extends north to the tip of the Northland 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, Tāne Mahuta, stands in the Waipoua Forest south of the Hokianga Harbour.
The western coast 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. The slightly longer Ripiro Beach lies further south. 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, then Whangaroa Harbour, and past the famous Bay of Islands down to Whangarei Harbour, on the shores of which is situated the largest population centre. Numerous islands 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.
Northland is New Zealand's least urbanised region, with 50% of the population of 179,100 living in urban areas. Whangarei is the largest urban area, with a population of 52,600 (June 2018). The region's population is largely concentrated along the east coast. During the five-year period up to 2006, Northland recorded a population growth of 6.0 percent, slightly below the national average. Northland includes one of the fastest growing towns in New Zealand, Mangawhai, which is expanding rapidly due to residential and subsequent commercial development.
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