Just one hour’s drive north of Auckland is Matakana district; a region blessed with beautiful beaches, lush countryside, boutique wineries, market gardens, lively cafés and fine-dining restaurants.
Matakana Village is the hub of the region with its mix of original, renovated township buildings and the newly developed Matakana Village Complex.
Every Saturday, Matakana Village Farmer’s Market swings into life. The place for serious foodies, savour a spiced hot chocolate while browsing through stalls replete with fresh organic vegetables, free-range eggs, freshly baked breads, homemade sausages and locally produced meats, relishes and cheeses.
A wander around the village will uncover a world of culinary pleasures. Matakana Patisseries is a much loved local haunt and is famous for its pies, artisan breads, french pastries and ‘melt in the mouth’ chocolate éclairs. For the best coffee and home-made muffins in town, stop by Black Dog Café. Blue, Matakana’s organic ice-cream café, makes mouth watering ice creams, sorbets and smoothies. A cone of their signature blueberry organic ice-cream is a must.
Take morning or afternoon tea at the Brookview Teahouse for a delightful experience of exquisite sandwiches, small cakes, tarts and pastries. At the Vintry, enjoy the wines of the region without driving to the wineries. Tucked away by the Matakana Cinema, the Vintry offers local Matakana wines by the glass or bottle.
Matakana is also the home of internationally known Morris and James Pottery and Tile Works. Beautiful handcrafted and glazed terracotta pots, tiles, plaques and wall art, free pottery tours and Cosi, their licensed courtyard café and bar are among the many reasons to pay a visit.
And if you are visiting with kids, there’s the Matakana Country Park; a farm and equestrian theme park featuring playgrounds, a petting zoo, horse riding and miniature train rides.
With more than 20 boutique vineyards, it’s no wonder Matakana has gained a reputation for world class wines and sensational food.
If you only visit one winery while in Matakana, make sure you visit Ascension. This multiple award-winning wine estate and restaurant dares to be different yet gets it right every time. Ascension specialises in hand-crafted wines using grape varieties rarely found outside Matakana and their popular restaurant, the Oak Grill, marries their wines with food to perfection.
For a unique experience, visit Heron’s Flight, the only vineyard in NZ that specialises in Italian grapes. Over the years, the vineyard has evolved into a Tuscan style farm and restaurant where vines intermingle with figs, mulberries and olive trees.
Matakana Coast is known for its stunning scenery, rolling hills and pristine beaches.
Goat Island Marine Reserve is a must visit. Teeming with fish and other sea life, the best way to experience what’s on offer is by snorkelling and diving or if you want to stay dry, taking a cruise on a glass bottom boat.
Further north lies Pakiri beach, 30km of beautiful, undeveloped, pristine white sand beach. The road to Pakiri Beach is a windy metal road but absolutely worth the drive. Go walking or experience this coastal wonderland on horseback with Pakiri Horse Back Rides.
You can also enjoy the surf at Omaha, sail at Kawau Island, soak in the hot pools at Waiwera Thermal Spa Resort or enjoy the splendour of the Matakana district’s 3 regional parks; Tawharanui, Mahurangi, and Scandrett’s. These parks provide some of the region’s most beautiful white sand beaches, rolling pastures, shingled bays, native coastal forest and wetlands.