Skip to main content
Critical alert


Together, we can stop the spread! For the latest updates and resources, visit the Government’s dedicated website:

Close alert

About the Waikato region

Map of New Zealand showing the Waikato region

On this page: The Waikato region, our people , our economy , caring for the Waikato region

The Waikato region

The Waikato region is the fourth largest region in the country. Covering most of the central North Island (approximately 25,000 km2, or 2.5 million hectares) it has 1,138 km of coastline.

The region stretches from the Bombay Hills and Port Waikato in the north, south to Mokau on the west coast, and across to the Coromandel Peninsula on the east coast.

In the south, the region extends to the slopes of Mt Ruapehu and the Kaimai Range. Check out the region’s boundaries and those of the 11 district council areas in the Waikato region.

Find out more about the natural environment of the Waikato region.

Our people

The Waikato is also the fourth largest region by population in New Zealand (after the Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington regions) with an estimated 449,200 people (based on the June 2016 subnational population estimates) – or around 9.6 per cent of New Zealand’s total estimated population. Around 96,100 of those people identify as Māori (based on 2013 estimates, the most recent available) – totalling around 13.9 per cent of New Zealand’s Māori population.

The regional population grew by 7 per cent between 2001 and 2006, with the national population growing 7.8 per cent over the same period. The national population is projected to reach 5 million by the late 2020s. Find out more about the population of the 11 district council areas in our region.

In the Waikato region around 75 per cent of people live in urban areas. The median1 age of the population is slightly younger than the national average, at 35.5 years compared with 35.9 years. 

Check out a brief history of the Waikato region.

Our economy

The Waikato region’s natural environment supports its people, culture and economy. But we demand increasingly more from our natural environment. More people and increasing economic activity mean we develop and use more natural resources. Find out more about the economy of the Waikato region.

We must learn to live within the limits of our environment if we want to keep it in its current condition, or improve it. Thinking about people and the economy as part of the natural system, and how natural systems link together will help us to maintain a healthy economy and a healthy natural environment. This integrated view of people and the environment is termed the ecosystem approach and is not unlike a Maori perspective of the region’s resources and their management issues.

Caring for the Waikato region

In the past, we tended to use nature’s resources to suit our short term needs. The changes we made in the past to our natural environment have given us our current lifestyle. There was a need to introduce plants and animals to sustain human life, and to eventually build the thriving economy we have today. The issue today is striking the right balance between protecting the environment and using its resources.

Now, as we understand more about natural processes and how people affect them, we must take our environment into account when making economic decisions. We have to recognise that everything we do – building towns, turning forests into farms, using cars, creating beach resorts – - is 'borrowing' from our environment.

Our well being depends on a healthy environment – clean water, clean air, healthy soil and a variety of plants and animals. To keep our environment healthy, we may have to change the way we do things in the future.


  1. The median age is where half the population is younger and half older than this age.
  2. Statistics New Zealand, 2006.