Marvellous Matakana

Isobel Benesch takes in the charming and peaceful surrounds of Matakana with her family.

Often called "The Hamptons of Auckland", Matakana is a small, rural town 45 minutes north of Auckland, by the coast. The town is only a block or so long, but is filled with gorgeous boutique shops, new restaurants, and a bustling farmers' market on Saturdays that people from all over Auckland attend.

What we love most about Matakana is that it's tucked away from the hustle and rush of everyday life, transporting you into a serene and peaceful countryside of rolling hills that drop right into turquoise seas, but still close enough to the city of Auckland if you want to go to the Big Smoke for the day. Travelling a few minutes outside of the town, you will find the most amazing bush walks, stunning beaches, wildlife reserves that you could spend hours getting lost in, and glass-bottom boat rides to Goat Island.

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The Black and White Barn lives up to its name

Where to stay

The Black and White Barn is a delightful little family-run bed and breakfast located a short walk from downtown Matakana. With two adjoining rooms (one with a queen bed and one with a king) and a large front yard, it's a great place for families, and its central location makes it the ideal home base for those looking to explore the area.

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Relaxing at the comfortable bed and breakfast.

Where to eat

  • The Weekend Farmers' Market for local and fresh produce
  • Black Dog Cafe for breakfast
  • The Dairy for an upscale selection of cheeses and meats for the perfect picnic
  • The Takeaway Shop for "create you own" sandwiches for lunch
  • The Matakana Village Pub to enjoy a cozy al fresco dinner next to the outdoor fireplace
  • The Rusty Pelican for large plates of upscale bar food and delicious pizza
  • Jin Jin for exotic Thai fusion in a gorgeous setting
  • Tuck Shop for ice cream
  • Mussel Shop for locally farmed mussels

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Things to see

  • The Farmers' Market on Saturdays
  • Tawharanui State Park for a beach day and bush walks
  • Omaha Beach for surfing and tide pooling
  • Ti Point for fishing and bush walks to some deserted coves
  • Ti Point Reptile Park for an afternoon of animals
  • Brick Bay Winery and Sculpture Trail for lunch and art inspiration
  • Central Matakana for a more commercial afternoon of train rides, animal feedings, and a unique playground filled with large wooden climbing structures
  • Goat Island Reserve for an afternoon of snorkelling
  • Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre for hands-on learning and experiences with local sea life. Hand-feed crabs and sea stars, and watch the octopus open a jar to get a mussel!

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Kids' faves

  • Very impressive: Feeding the snake sea stars at the Goat Island Discovery Centre
  • Magical: Watching a pod of 30+ dolphins serenade us at Omaha Beach
  • Treat: The ice cream a Tuck Shop
  • Scary: The huge sting ray we encountered at Goat Island Marine Reserve when snorkelling
  • Laugh: Watching the green male iguana turn bright red and toss his head around
Isobel Benesch is a Kiwi, married with three littlies. She is a writer, stylist, and lifestyle blogger, and you can find more of her work on Instagram at @belandbeau and on her blog belandbeau.com
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