The Top Things to Do and Places to Visit on the Matakana Coast
One of the great things about Auckland is the fact that you can enjoy many varied day trips from the city. One day you can be exploring the Hauraki Gulf, the next you can drive up the Matakana Coast. We’ll help you make the most of the latter with this list of the best things to do in Matakana and the Matakana Coast!
The Matakana Coast is a section of the North Shore district incorporating both the east and west coasts. So whether you’re passing through on your way up north or sticking around Auckland for a while, the Matakana Coast is something fresh and isolated in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the city. Explore diverse landscapes, from romantic vineyards to stunning beaches. Go on an adventure by diving in a marine reserve or culture yourself at a Maori village. Take a look at the list below to find some great additions to your Auckland bucket list.
1. Experience the Matakana Farmers’ Market
If there is a “best” time to visit the village of Matakana, it has to be on a Saturday morning. The Matakana Farmers’ Market brings the best of the village to life, from colourful products to talkative locals to delicious food. There’s fresh produce, artisan cheeses, homemade spreads, organic foods, craft beer and olive oils to sample and purchase, as well as street food to enjoy. What’s more, the market is zero-waste, so bring your own bags!
Location: 2 Matakana Valley Road, Matakana.
2. Have a Tipple at the Matakana Wineries
Another aspect of Matakana that makes it such a haven for foodies is its wine region. Treat yourself to a wine tasting experience at the Matakana Estate or pop into their cellar door for lunch accompanied by a glass of wine, while Ascension Wines is another popular choice nearby. Alternatively, combine wine tasting with a glorious sculpture trail at Brick Bay Wines. Better yet, hire a designated driver for the day and visit several wineries on a guided tour with Bush and Beach.
Location: Matakana Estate – 568 Matakana Road. Ascension Wines – 480 Matakana Road. Brick Bay Wines – 17 Arabella Lane, Snells Beach.
3. Discover Amazing Marine Life at the Goat Island Marine Reserve
This marine reserve surrounding the tiny Goat Island is one of the most popular snorkelling/diving spots in the Auckland Region. Fish are fearless and plentiful, which makes the whole trip worthwhile. Join snorkelling tours, visit the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre, or see the fish through a clear kayak with Clearyak. Find out how to make the most of your visit with 5 Fun Things to Do at Goat Island Marine Reserve.
Location: Goat Island Marine Reserve, Leigh, approximately 16 km (10 mi) north of Matakana.
4. Be Amazed by the Sculptureum
A hub for creativity, Sculptureum offers more than 750 pieces of art found across six galleries and three sculpture gardens. See pieces from around the world from the likes of Picasso, Chagall, Rodin, Chihuly and Cezanne and admire gardens full of fun and thought-provoking pieces. Break up your visit with a relaxing dining experience at their on-site restaurant or even indulge in a wine tasting.
Location: 40 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana.
5. See Rare Birds and Farm Animals Together at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary
One of the regional parks in Auckland, Tawharanui Regional Park is New Zealand’s first open sanctuary where conservation, farming and public recreation are encouraged in one place. Tawharanui Open Sanctuary has a predator-proof fence protecting reintroduced species like takahe, kiwi, bellbird, gecko, kaka and much more. There are also beaches and walking trails to discover, as outlined on the Auckland Council website.
Location: 1181 Takatu Road, Tawharanui Peninsula, approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) east of Matakana.
6. Relax at Omaha Beach
Summertime calls for a day at the beach, and there is none in the Matakana area more popular than Omaha Beach. A vast stretch of white sand, there’s room for everyone to relax, indulge in a picnic or pick something up from the local cafe, stretch their legs or paddleboard when the water is calm. There’s even Omaha Beach Golf Club just behind the beach if you feel inclined – one of the Top 20 Golf Courses in Auckland.
Location: Broadlands Drive, Omaha Beach, approximately 7 km (4.3 mi) east of Matakana.
7. Delve into Native Bush and Discover Amazing Sculptures at Brick Bay
Not just another place to sip locally-made wines, Brick Bay Wines is also home to a gorgeous sculpture trail. The trail is dotted with contemporary sculptures and delves into a stunning natural environment with wildlife and ponds bursting with water lilies. There’s a small entry fee to the trail, but those who dine at the on-site restaurant get a discount.
Location: 17 Arabella Lane, Snells Beach, approximately 8 km (4.9 mi) east of Matakana.
8. Hit the Ti Point Coastal Walk
A fun free thing to do on the Matakana Coast, the Ti Point Coastal Walk is a 2-hour return venture along the sheltered southern coast of Ti Point. The walk incorporates native bush, sandy beaches and rocky coves, as well as views of Omaha, Tawharanui and Little Barrier Island. Keep your eye out for little blue penguins and seals that bathe on the rocks in winter.
Location: End of Ti Point Road, approximately 13 km (8 mi) northeast of Matakana.
9. Take the Ferry to Kawau Island
For those with a bit of spare cash, hopping on the ferry to Kawau Island leaving from Sandspit is a treat. The island boasts wildlife and walks that rival other islands in the Hauraki Gulf. There are seasonal timetables for the ferry run by Kawau Cruises. They also offer a mail cruise should you simply want to take in the scenery.
Location: Sandspit Wharf, Warkworth, approximately 9 km (5.5 mi) south of Matakana.
10. Hike Up Mt Tamahunga
If you’re looking for an adventure, take the 90-minute ascent to the summit of Mt Tamahunga. Escape from civilisation into the deep tranquillity of the native forest. The track is mostly well-maintained but there are often a few muddy sections and steep spots to scramble. Once at the summit, either return the same way for peeks of Omaha Bay on the way down or continue north to Rodney Road for some of the best coastal views (a further 2 hours).
Location: Car park around 1 km up Omaha Valley Road, approximately 5 km (3.1 mi) north of Matakana.
11. Take the Kids to Matakana Country Park
A privately-owned 50-acre estate, there’s plenty to do for all ages at Matakana Country Park. Let older kids loose at “Action Ninja World” on an epic Ninja Warrior-esque assault course, while younger ones might appreciate the miniature ride-on train. There’s also an adventure playground, horse and carriage rides, as well as shopping at the Craft Shop, Matakana Art Gallery and John Crockett Goldsmith.
Location: 1151 Leigh Road, approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) northeast of Matakana.
12. Shop ‘Til You Drop
Gifts, fashion, homeware, art, artisan food; who would have thought that such a tiny town offered such retail therapy?! Inspire yourself at art galleries and gift shops like Pigment Art and Artform Gallery. Pick up some artisan goodies from Honest Chocolate, Tea & Tonic and The Roastery Matakana Coffee. Finally, get a new look at Two Boutique, Delovely or Unity Collection.
Location: All shops mentioned are located at Matakana Village, 2 Matakana Valley Road.
13. Eat ‘Til You Pop
Matakana is also the place to divulge in local flavours, from wine to artisan delights. Treat yourself to freshly baked goods at Ringwera Baker, try the latest specials at Matakana Market Kitchen open all week from 8:30 am until late, dine at one of the country-themed and memorable venues of Matakana Country Park, like The Stables and Smiths Matakana. Plume Restaurant is also an acclaimed choice pairing fine food with local wine. Finally, complete the affair with fresh fruit gelato and sorbet from Charlie’s Gelato.
Location: Ringwera Baker and Matakana Market Kitchen – Matakana Village, 2 Matakana Valley Road. The Stables and Smiths Matakana – Matakana Country Park, 1151 Leigh Road. Plume Restaurant – 49A Sharp Road. Charlie’s Gelato – 17 Sharp Road.
14. Take a Pottery Tour at Morris & James
Simply browsing the eye-popping showroom of the potters, Morris & James, is an experience but if you want to take it a step further, join one of the factory tours available daily at 11:30 am. See first-hand what it takes to create ceramics on this informative tour. On-site is also the Nectar Cafe, providing an attractive courtyard setting for all your cabinet favourites.
Location: 48 Tongue Farm Road.
15. See Kauri Trees and Dive into the History of Warkworth
The town exudes a strong colonial heritage, so any 1900s fan will be served! Aside from heritage architecture, do not leave Warkworth without checking out the huge kauri trees in the Parry Kauri Park or horse riding with Horse Riding Warkworth or Ti Tree Hills – the latter you can organise from Auckland with ExperienceKart (more info on Viator and Klook). For more activities, see the 10 Wonderful Things to Do in Warkworth.
Location: Warkworth, approximately 9 km (5.5 mi) south of Matakana.
16. Learn About the Kiwi Farming Lifestyle at Sheepworld
Enjoy the novelty of this “Kiwi” stereotype at Sheepworld! Kids from urban areas especially love discovering this side of New Zealand, where visitors get a taste of the farming lifestyle and see how farms harvest wool through live demonstrations. There’s also a short walking trail through native forest, as well as a family-friendly cafe. For more family-friendly vibes, head to the 10 Things to Do in Auckland with Kids.
Location: 324 State Highway 1, approximately 14 km (8.7 mi) southwest of Matakana.
17. Snap a Pic of the Quaint Historic Buildings of Puhoi
More than a simple small village, Puhoi showcases the story of its early settlers: bohemians that came to the country in search of a fresh start. The village is worth a quick stop to admire the cute buildings. Oh, and don’t miss a tasting at the Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store (check their Facebook page for reopening dates).
Location: Puhoi, State Highway 1, approximately 24 km (15 mi) south of Matakana.
18. Take a Tour of Te Hana Te Ao Marama
Auckland’s leading Maori cultural centre, Te Hana Te Ao Marama, offers a true Maori experience from a guided village tour to a marae stay. Plus, the village’s lighting work is stunning to see at night! See how the experience compares to the 10 Best Places to Experience Maori Culture in New Zealand.
Location: Te Hana, State Highway 1, approximately 30 km (19 mi) from Matakana.
19. Hit the Beaches of the Mahurangi Peninsula
The peninsula is home to multiple beaches, bays and parks; take your pick! Snells Beach, Martins Bay and Algies Bay are backed by facilities like children’s playgrounds, picnic areas, etc. On the other hand, Scandrett Regional Park offers more secluded beaches and walkways to stretch your legs. See more regional parks worth discovering in the 20 Auckland Parks You Can’t Miss.
Location: Mahurangi East Road, approximately 9 km (5.5 mi) south of Matakana.
20. Beachcomb or Fish at Pakiri Beach
Pakiri Beach is often described in three words: “pristine white sand.” It is a great spot for surfing, fishing and even bird watching. It takes around 20 minutes to walk to the southern end of the often deserted Pakiri Beach where you’ll likely spot a number of oystercatchers, dotterels and terns. You can also enjoy views of Little Barrier Island from Pakiri Regional Park.
Location: Pakiri Beach, Pakiri Road, approximately 22 km (13 mi) north of Matakana.
More Things to Do on the Matakana Coast
That’s it for our list of things to do on the Matakana Coast. For more experiences in the area, check out the following guides:
Finally, get inspired for more adventure with The Best Day Trips from Auckland.