Bay of Islands
North Island (Māori: Te Ika-a-Māui) is one of the two main
islands of New Zealand, separated from the
South Island by Cook Strait.
The North Island is 113,729 square kilometres (43,911 sq mi) in area,
making it the world's 14th-largest island.
It has a population of 3,287,600 (June 2009 estimate).
Eight important cities
are in the North Island, notably New Zealand's largest city, Auckland,
New Plymouth, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Hamilton, Palmerston North and
Wellington - the capital, located at the southern extremity of the
Approximately 76% of New Zealand's population lives in the North Island.
The highest mountain in the North Island is Mount Ruapehu (2,797 metres
According to Māori mythology, the North and
South Islands of New Zealand arose through the actions of the demigod
Māui and his brothers were fishing from their canoe (the South Island)
when he caught a great fish and pulled it from the sea. While he was not
looking his brothers fought over the fish and chopped it up.
This great fish became the North Island and thus a Māori name for the
North Island is Te Ika-a-Māui (The Fish of Māui). The mountains
and valleys are said to have been formed as a result of Māui's brothers'
hacking at the fish.
Until the early 20th Century, an alternative Māori name for the North
Island was Aotearoa. In present Māori usage, Aotearoa is a collective
name for New Zealand as a whole.