Small Town New Zealand: Matakana

Many of our Natural High clients start (and finish) their holidays in Auckland, and they often leave a few days at the end for a spot of city touring. But what if you want to break out from the big smoke and see some of Auckland’s surrounding regions?

The Matakana coast makes for a perfect side trip from the city. It’s an easy, 45 minute drive from Auckland and offers heaps to see and do…

Play: Head to Goat Island Marine Reserve to get up close and personal with New Zealand’s marine life. The shallow and sheltered waters make it a fantastic spot for snorkelling and diving. Goat Island is located in Leigh, approximately 20 minutes from Matakana. You can hire snorkelling gear at the reserve and several operators offer dive tours, tuition and equipment hire. If you don’t fancy getting wet, take a tour in the Glass Bottom Boat.

Another place well worth checking out is Tawharanui Regional Park. Set on a remote peninsula to the east of Matakana, this is New Zealand’s first open sanctuary: a pest-free habitat that provides a safe home for many threatened native species, like brown teal/pāteke, variable oystercatchers/tōrea and pūkeko. You can walk, swim, surf and mountain bike in the park and there’s also a campsite if you want to stay a little longer.

Go wine tasting! There are heaps of vineyards scattered amongst the region and many are open for tastings. You’ll find a good list here.

Java-hit: The Love Shack, for freshly-roasted blends.

Refuel: In Matakana the Black Dog Café is a popular spot. If you’re feeling puckish after a snorkelling session at Goat Island, pop into The Leigh Sawmill Café for woodfired pizza and craft beers.

Tug at the purse strings: If you’re lucky enough to be in town for the weekend, a browse at the Saturday Matakana Farmers’ Market is a must. Featuring delicious produce from local growers, artisan baking, fine wines, olive oil and live music.

Admire: The Matakana region is home to numerous artists and craftspeople. For pottery and outdoor sculpture, visit Morris and James just past the village – they offer a free tour of the pottery every day at 11.30am.

After-hours: Catch a flick at Matakana Cinemas, a three-screen, boutique cinema in the heart of the village.

Sweet dreams: Heaps of listing here.

Getting there: From Auckland: Take State Highway 1 north. Just past Warkworth, follow the signs to Matakana. A small section of State Highway 1 is now a toll road (Orewa to Puhoi), and costs $2.20 per car, one-way. You can pay the toll online by credit card (up to five days after your journey) or use a self-service kiosk, which are clearly signposted.

Need wheels to escape the city? We can hook you up with a great camper deal or car hire. Check out our camper range here>>