While you’re here, you won’t want to miss –
The Matakana Coast is a picturesque area situated an hour northeast of Auckland between Warkworth and Leigh. A popular weekend getaway for Aucklanders, you’ll find relaxing things to do in Matakana – the district is a wine lovers paradise with more than 30 vineyards and 12 wineries. Many vineyards have restaurants where you can enjoy a quality wine and food experience in picturesque surroundings.
Keep an eye out for independent studios in the area selling pottery, art, jewelry or sculpture. The landscape and energy of the coast has inspired many creative people. Indeed, the Matakana Coast has a fabulous array of beaches and regional parks worth getting excited about. Spend the day, a weekend or longer, you’ll never be lacking for things to do and see.
One of the lures of Matakana is its trendy village with a cinema, boutiques, art galleries, tea rooms and restaurants.
One main reason it’s a popular weekend haunt for Aucklanders – the Matakana Village Farmers Market. Every Saturday you’ll find great coffee and yummy specialty food products such as olive oil, breads, meats, pickles and cheeses.
A newly-opened local shop offers cooking classes where you can learn to prepare some yummy local dishes, find the fresh ingredients at the local markets – and try perfecting your skills in the kitchen, if you’re staying in a local lodge.
There is also good eating to be had at the Matakana Market Kitchen, underneath the cinema, and the Matakana Village Pub across the road. Featuring sophisticated menus with using fresh produce and local seafood and meats, the dishes here are not your typical country pub fare.
Food & Drink
When it comes to wine making, the Matakana district is a relative newcomer but its sub-tropical climate is perfect for grape growing. Wine tastings are offered at many family-owned boutique wineries including Ascension Wine Estate, Herons Flight, Hyperion and Ransom. For a range of tasting experiences – without the hassle of driving – consider a wine tasting tour.
Food and wine are never far apart in Matakana. Brick Bay Wines features platters of local nibbles accompanied by its award-winning wines in the airy Glass House restaurant. Or head over to Runner Duck Estate, with a range of wine tastings and dining options available at Plume, the vineyard restaurant.
For a one-stop shop, The Vintry in Matakana Village is both a wine center, bar and restaurant and has an excellent range of local wines.
Relaxing Regional Parks
The Matakana District boasts a number of beautiful, unspoiled coastal parks – perfect for a day at the beach and a relaxing picnic. The closest to Matakana Village are Tawharanui Regional Park, best for those who like wave action, and Scandrett Regional Park, a quiet, secluded bay with a historic homestead.
A boat trip to Kawau Island from nearby Sandspit is a relaxing way to spend the day. Kawau Island was the home of the former governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, in the 1800s.
His residence, Mansion House, is now a well-preserved stately property open to the public. The formal gardens are a lovely setting for a picnic with native birds flitting around and peacocks strutting about. Exploring further on the island will reveal the remains of a copper mining industry.
Leigh is small community a 15 minute drive north of Matakana. It has a thriving local eatery called the Leigh Sawmill Cafe – it’s always buzzing on the weekends. The cafe serves international cuisine with a New Zealand flavor – try their wood-fired pizzas and fresh fish – and hosts live music events with New Zealand artists.
Just up the road from Leigh, the Goat Island Marine Reserve is equally popular but for its abundant marine life. Here you can spend a relaxing day on your vacation snorkeling, diving among the fishes or taking a ride in a glass bottom boat.
The many things to do in Matakana truly offer the best of both worlds: its fabulous wineries and restaurants entice your senses while creative locals and unspoiled beaches offer a laid-back vibe. Whatever your interests – wine food, art, shopping or simply sunning yourself on the beach – this is one vacation spot that caters for everyone.