Living on the Blue

Blue Adventures Matakana Coasts premium watersports school

Whether you’re a first time kitesurfer or looking to increase your boarding skills, a coaching session with Blue Adventures can make it all happen at some of the best beach locations from Auckland City to the Matakana Coast.  Owned and run by adventure-lovers Tony and Nina Carr , Blue Adventures is Auckland’s premier watersports school with the only IKO-affiliated kite center in the Auckland region.  The team of instructors are trained to teach using IKO’s safe progressive method’s and their kitesurfing courses are IKO certified. With a fully mobile watersports school, the instructors will get students geared up at the best location for the daily conditions. You can try anything from wake and kite foiling to wing surfing, wakeboarding or kitesurfing.

Blue Adventures prides itself on providing a personalised and exciting experience for all its customers.  Their dedicated team of  instructors are passionate about what they do and will provide students with a safe and fun way to learn water sports.  Tony and Nina believe that their success has been through their teaching technique of small groups, with step-by-step instructions.  They have up to date equipment and will ensure their students progress easily and safely.

“Keep an eye out on our facebook page if we have spots in our lessons and if the conditions are perfect we will let you know so you can join in.”

If you are ready for a relaxing activity, visit their surf shop, Omaha Surf & Supply where locals and visitors can grab a rental SUP or board, enrol in a lesson, or shop from a collection of surf, SUP or kiteboarding gear made, when possible, of sustainable materials. You can also pick up anything you may have forgotten for a trip to Omaha beach: swimwear, towels or reef safe sunscreen.  Where possible Tony and Nina purchase products made with sustainable materials.

After a brief holiday at Raglans tepee resort, The Carrs decided to build three hand-built teepees on their 1.1 hectare property between Matakana and Leigh.  This glamorous camping (or glamping) was a natural fit to their business and is a popular choice for their outdoor-savvy Blue Adventure clientele.

The three Tepees form a small off-grid experience for guests, connected by a wooden walkway but far enough from each other to offer guests privacy and an unobstructed view of the stars.

Be sure to book in advance for your stay and Blue Adventure water activities.

Living on the Blue - Blue Adventures & Tepee

Tony and Nina’s Must-Dos when visiting Matakana Coast: 

If you are visiting over the weekend then you must visit the Matakana Village Farmers Market on a Saturday.  Meandering past stalls of artisanal nibbles and fresh produce is a great experience and helps to fill up your pantry.  Tony and Nina will be found over summer enjoying a BBQ where they will endeavour to purchase organic meat if it’s available.  A visit The Village Butchery in Matakana for meat, fresh bread from Ringawera Bakery along with fresh veggies and cheese bought from the markets makes for the perfect BBQ meal.  Dessert will be watermelon from Omaha and strawberries from Charlies’ Gelato Garden.

A visit to Tāwharanui Regional Park is at the top of their must do list and is a favourite place for teaching.  Waves are suited to beginners (and swimmers) and a offers a beautiful pōhutukawa-lined coastline.

Water-lovers can head north of Matakana Village for diving, snorkelling and kayaking in Goat Island Marine Reserve a crystal clear ecosystem set aside for recreation and research.

Tony and Nina’s waters spots along the Matakana Coast: 

Auckland is home to two coastlines and Matakana covers a large part of the East Coast.  We are spoilt for choice here on the Matakana Coast when it comes to water adventures and enjoying water sports.  The region is popular for surfers, SUP and kite surfers with multiple spots for wave riders to enjoy, here are four of the favourites.

The beautiful Te Arai at the furthest north east point in the township of Wellsford, is well known for consistent and safe surf conditions.  Straddling the line between Wellsford and Mangawhai are two beaches; Te Arai Point and Forestry which sit on the Wellsford side while its northern beach Black Swamp sits in Mangawhai.  Pakiri Beach is popular with swimmers, surfers and fisherman with many Aucklanders drawn here in summer to enjoy one of Auckland’s truly open beaches on the east coast.

The Southern headland is home to a store, and Pakiri Beach Holiday Park.  Omaha is a fairly exposed beach that has reasonably consistent surf with an ideal swell direction from the northwest.  The white sand and rocky north facing beaches of Tāwharanui’s north are a great spot for surfing when southerly winds are blowing.

If you are looking for great flat water for SUP and Kiteboarding our pick would be Omaha Estuary and Snells Beach.

Living on the Blue - Blue Adventures

48 Hours in Matakana with Lauraine Jacobs

Less than an hour’s drive from Auckland Matakana is the ideal region to escape to for a weekend where the focus is on well-being to recharge the body and mind.  Outdoor activities including beach walks, along with swimming and surfing, plus there are art trails, a boutique cinema, the ever-popular farmers market and, importantly oodles of opportunities to indulge in fine food and wine.

Rest awhile

If you are escaping with a crowd of mates, Plume Villas or Riverside offers a slice of life’s little luxuries in self-contained serviced villas set in tranquil surrounds.  Plume also has a restaurant and cellar door on the property for lunch and dinner.  Just the two of ou for a dreamy escape? Check in at Beauregard Cottages – three quaint, private, self-contained cottages in gorgeous gardens – or book unique accommodation at The Stables Cottage in the beautiful Bali Garden near Point Wells.

There’s a host of other accommodation, in every price range, from camping grounds and motels to private B&B’s.  If all else fails or you’re keen on being close to the beach, see Omaha Holiday Houses for a selection of residences and baches curated by Nicola Hooper.

Plume Villas - Lauraine Jacobs 48 hours in Matakana

An edible wonderland

Cafés, restaurants and coffee spots abound.  Don’t miss The Farmers Daughter for healthy breakfasts and lunches, with dinner at the weekend.  Enjoy views across the Omaha Estuary, while tasting the sea with fresh fish from nearby Leigh Fisheries, and abundant veggies and herb’ straight from the garden.  Or grab something at the adjacent outdoor shack for quick bites and takeout coffee.  Smoko Room at Sawmill Brewery on Leigh Road has an excellent menu influenced by local and foraged native ingredients.  Match a craft beer with their smoked-fish pâté or famous spiced hummus, labneh and braised goat with cumin flatbread – plus there’s plenty of room for kids to roam.  For a sophisticated meal, book in at Rothko at Sculptureum on the Omaha Flats Road, where there’s a world-class wine list, fresh pasta and juicy grilled meats.  Another must is The Glass House at Brick Bay, for consistently top-class food for brunch, lunch and snacks throughout the day.  Here you can eat lamb and vegetables from the farm and some fine locally sourced fare, taste the latest vintage of chardonnay and the popular rose and walk the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail to view contemporary outdoor New Zealand sculpture.

For coffee to go, there’s ample choice.  Head to The Roastery at Matakana Coffee on the upper level of the village carpark (grab a bacon butty next door at Matakana Bacon Company), or try the Omaha Beach Café & Eatery, Ravish coffee cart or Ringawera Baker in the main street.  For good measure, award-winning gelato can be found at Charlies Gelato in Sharp Road.

Three exemplary spots off the freshest of fish from the renowned Leigh Fishery: Batter & Salt as you arrive in Matakana Village on the main road, Point Wells General Store, or drive further afield as you head to Te Hāwere-a-Maki/Goat Island for a snorkel and stop at the very cool Leigh Eats.

Sawmill Brewery and Smoko Room - Lauraine Jacobs 48 hours in Matakana

Village Vibe

Architecturally designed Matakana Village, with its three-theatre cinema, is the beating heart of the tiny town.  It has a carefully curated shopping centre that includes a fine independent bookshop, art-supply store, stylish clothing and shoe boutiques, florist, Honest Chocolat, the fine Ringawera Baker and a very smart surf shop.  The Matakana Village Pub is a great traditional pub with good food and music, and there’s also good eating at Matakana Market Kitchen.  No trip to the region would be complete without visiting the farmers’ market, on from 8am to 1pm Saturdays, with so many food discoveries to be made.  Be sure to take a large shopping bag.

Toasting the region 

There are several wineries to head to for local tastings.  Vineyards in the area offering interesting varietals include Brick Bay, Omaha Bay Vineyard, Matakana Estate, Heron’s Flight, Matavino, Runner Duck Estate and Sculptureum.  Or while away the time at The Vintry in the village, where all the wines of the region are on offer in the same spot,  And don’t miss the flight of selected beer tastes at Sawmill Brewery.


Well-being walks

Get outdoors for a spot of nature bathing in the regional parks, to swim at pristine beaches and walk well-maintained trails.  Top choice is Tawharanui Regional Park, with its sweeping sandy beaches, camping, extensive native plantings and a commendable open bird sanctuary.

Lesser known are the walks from Ti Point wharf around the rocks to Ti Point, and the simple but amazing boardwalk at Omaha Beach, which starts at the Surf Life Saving Club and passes to the south alongside the beach.  Here a series of five impressive carved pouwhenua are maintained by members of the local iwiw, Ngati Manuhiri.

Active participation

Golf, surfing lessons, kite surfing and paddleboarding are all centred at Omaha Beach and Omaha Beach Golf Club, is rated in the top 25 courses in NZ.  Cycling trails are sparse but there’s a short, easy ride from Point Wells to Omaha Beach with an extension along Jones Road and over a more challenging climb that leads to Matakana.

Oyster Farm Tours, run in conjunction with Matakana River Tours and Kayaks, offer a bracing trip on the Oyster Shuckleferry based at Scott’s Landing wharf on the Mahurangi Harbour.  Oyster lovers will be in heaven, as everyone get to shuck and devour their own.

Rejuvenating retreats

Live your best life with fitness classes, yoga, two gyms and health and beauty treatments – all found in the area.

The tranquil Bali Garden is an excellent environment for a range of yoga classes, and check out The Matakana Naturopath for consultations and owner Kim Campbell’s one-day experience at Kana Retreats.  Kate Arbuthnot’s Totem Retreat also offers a variety of workshops and days out.

Love our Local Heroes 

Matakana is a haven that attracts entrepreneurs with good ideas’ who wish to be self-employed.  It remains very much a rural community where farmers, horticulturalists, growers, artisan food producers, fishers and lifestylers value the richness of the soil, the almost subtropical climate, and the coastline and harbours.  It’s a region rich in diversity, opportunity sustainability and above all, friendship and respect.

Seek out some of the book’s ‘local heroes’ – good sorts who are creating businesses centred on health and wellness foods and services.  Most started at world-famous-in-New-Zealand farmers’ market and continue to operate there today.

Robe and Shannon Aucot of oob organics have built an organic farm into a multi-streamed business that sources and packages organic fruit and vegetables, as well as making organic ice cream for supply to supermarkets throughout New Zealand and to export to international markets.

Amber Rose of Wild Delicious Fermentary has developed a range of water kefirs, flavoured shrubs and other delicious gut-friendly drinks.

Josie Jackson of Wild RimuRimu produces premium nut butters and has created a seaweed brand with kelp salts, kelp powders, dried wakame and added healthy foraged ingredients.

Mandy and Craig Purvis’s Organic Herbs and Seedlings and Organic Blooms carry van loads of organic-raised seedlings and potted plants, grown on their property near Warkworth, to the market each week.

Danvers Devereux (Matakana Botanicals) uses locally sourced plants and honey to make his range of fragrant bath and beauty products.  The full range is carried at Studio Matakna in the Matakana Village Shops.

Last but not least Dewlyn War and Brad Gwynne of Daily Organics brew excellent Kombucha and apple cider vinegar in a small plant in the village, which they are now selling throughout supermarkets.


This article first appeared in Cuisine – Issue 207, September 2021

If you would like to learn more about what is on offer in the Matakana Coast region purchase a copy of “It takes a Village – A guide to Matakana and its surrounding districts” written by Lauraine Jacobs.  It is packed with everything you need to know about the region, stories of local heroes and 12 delicious but simple recipes written by Lauraine but inspired by the produce of the region.

Visit Matakana Village Bookstore to order your copy today – Massey University Press, S/B, $45.00


Discover Matakana in 48 hours with Lauraine Jacobs

Top 10 things to do with kids

Waiting for Auckland to come down to Level 2? Wondering what to do with the kids when we do? 

Jump right into discovering the ‘Top 10 things to do with the kids’ and family on the Matakana Coast.

1 Action Ninja World

Located in the expansive Matakana Country Park and offers amazing fun for children and families! Get up high and live like a flying trapeze artist, adrenaline junkie, or Ninja Warrior.  Action Ninja World includes; a Ninja Warrior Course, a Flying Trapeze (as high as the professionals use), a High Wire at 4 metres, Tarzan Swings, a Jousting Pole (where you try and knock your friends off a padded pole 3 metres above the ground), an 8.5m Climbing Wall, Jumping Pillow, Zorb Soccer, Animal Petting Zoo,  9-metre inflatable waterslide and so much more. You’re never going to be bored here!  Action Ninja World has recently been nominated and shortlisted for ‘DENIZEN EVERYDAY HEROS’ Favourite Children’s Entertainment Venue.

The Matakana Country Park hosts a wide range of family-friendly activities and has plenty of parking on-site along with a small motorhome park. Offering an awesome family day of fun, bring along a picnic, use the BBQ, and enjoy a great day out!

Ninja World Top 10 kid activities Matakana Coast

2 Ti Point Reptile Park

The perfect place for lovers of Jurassic Park, young and old.  Ti Point Reptile Park holds New Zealand’s largest collection of reptiles, displaying over 40 species from Aotearoa and around the globe, located just past Whangateau and before you arrive at the coastal village of Leigh.  Bring your picnic and enjoy the animals and park grounds that are set amongst regenerating native bush with stunning views and bush walks.  Don’t miss out on seeing New Zealand’s own living fossil – the tuatara.  Open at 10am – with last admission at 3pm daily (gates close at 4pm). Family passes available.

Top 10 things to do with kids Ti Point Reptile Park Matakana Coast

3. Treats for all the family 

So who doesn’t love a treat or two and we are not short of a few of these in the Matakana Coast.  What would a Top 10 list be without showcasing some of our favourites t0 visit with the kids.  Charlies Gelato is open everyday 10-5. They make small batch gelato and sorbetto on site with over 40 flavours to choose from. Visit Charlies Gelato, grab a treat and sit amongst the vines or visit their neighbour Slow Blooms where you can wander their gardens and pick flowers to take home with you!

Whether you’re passing and looking to break your journey or spending time in and around Puhoi, the Puhoi Cheese Factory and store makes a great place to visit, kids can come in and enjoy a range of Puhoi Valley goodies, including award winning ice cream, yoghurts, flavoured milk and of course cheese.  Kids can enjoy their treats and have a run around on the large grass lawn or at the playground.

Top 10 things to do with kids Charlies Gelato Matakana CoastWho doesn’t love Chocolate??? We have two of the best here in the Matakana Coast, Chocolate Brown in Warkworth where you walk in the door and feel like you’re stepping into a vintage sweet shop full of delightful surprises of not only chocolate but a scrummy array of sweets.  Enjoy a complimentary chocolate tasting while watching the Chocolatiers at work.  Or visit Nico and Emily Bonnaud’s Honest Chocolat in the Matakana Village where there is a range of beautiful and delicious products on offer – kids love watching the chocolate being tempered while munching on chocolate coated Hokey Pokey or Real Fruit Jellies.

4. Sculptureum

“While art certainly can inspire anyone at any age, our approach to the world of art at Sculptureum is decidedly designed to speak to the childish whimsy within us all.  Kids are often fascinated with what they experience at Sculptureum and parents are blown away by just how involved their children get.  From sculptures of melting ice-creams to petting our bunnies or feeding our birds, the bold colours, unique experiences and wonderland like feel of Sculptureum makes it the place of children’s dreams.  During the school holiday program, many kids and families enjoy our scavenger hunts throughout the property and are beyond enthralled when their sketches, drawings and recreations of some of our works end up being hung in our display for Little Artists in Residence.  There is nothing sweeter than to hear a child telling their mom, dad, grandma or grandpa, “Look! I’m a real artist!” while pointing enthusiastically at their own drawing.”

Top 10 things to do with kids - Animal Encounter @ Sculptureum

5. Brick Bay Sculpture Trail
Brick Bay is a place where young explorers can discover over 60 sculptures from NZ’s leading contemporary artists all set in incredible kauri forests, lakes and farmland abundant with native birds.  Kids love the complimentary Young Explorers maps, inspiring their learning, creativity and love of nature. There’s no need to book for the trail just turn up. Bookings are however  recommended for brunch or lunch at The Glass House Restaurant.  Open from 10am–4pm on weekdays and 10am–5pm on Saturdays. Sculpture trail pricing:
Adults $12 | Child 5 -17 $8 | Under 5 Free | Family Pass (2 adults and 2 children) $35

Top 10 things to do with kids Brick Bay Sculpture Trail Matakana Coast

6. Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre
The Marine Discovery Centre is a great location if the weather gives you an indoors day and why this makes our Top 10 list.  Learn about the unique marine environment of this area with interactive displays and high definition footage. Get up close to New Zealand marine life without getting wet using our interactive Microeye microscope, be amazed by our sound corridor playing a variety of fish sounds and see a range of marine creatures in our large ‘touch gently tank’. Even if you have been to Goat Island before you are sure to learn something new about New Zealand’s oldest Marine Reserve.

Goat Island Marine Reserve - Top 10 things to do with kids

7. Village Picnic
Wherever you plan to go on the Matakana Coast, a picnic is essential! Book in advance and have the perfect artisan picnic ready and waiting, for you and the kids. Or, hand over the adventure planning and book a Family ‘Mystery Picnic‘.  A self drive 5 hour scavenger hunt of the Matakana Coast, which includes a picnic for the family to share, wine tasting for the adults and colouring in for the children (2 adults and 2 children) for $195 usually $245.  This is a great and fun way to discover the region.
Village Picnic Matakana Coast
8. Kayaking in the Matakana Coast 
The Top 10 list of things to do with kids would not be complete without including a water activity.  Kayaking is a great option to do with the kids and we are fortunate in the Matakana Coast to have a number of operators offering the experience both on the sea and also on the river.  As like all water adventures things like weather and tides can play apart in the planning of the day so please check in with the operator on the day of departure.
Enjoy New Zealand’s marine life up close in your very own 100% clear kayak at Motu Hāwere ā Maki (Goat Island) Marine Reserve in Leigh.  A Clearyak allows you to explore areas that you can not access by land or by motor boat while not impacting the delicate ecosystem in the reserve.  As you gently paddle the clear waters, you’ll see a wonderful variety of fish, eagle rays and stingrays swimming just below you.  Goat Island Marine Reserve is the only place in NZ to clearyak.  This unique experience is unlike any other kayaking adventure, allowing you to marvel at the marine life that swims below the surface without getting wet!
Top 10 things to do Clearyak

Puhoi River Kayaks has been operating since 1995 out of the historic Puhoi Village offering a safe leisurely un-guided paddle along the Puhoi River.  This stretch of water meanders 8km from Puhoi to the scenic Wenderholm Regional Park.  Puhoi River Kayaks supply the kayaks, buoyancy aids, paddling instruction, local river knowledge and a courtesy coach from Wenderholm back to Puhoi.  Don’t forget to pack a picnic to enjoy when you get to Wenderholm.

Puhoi River Kayak - Top 10 things to do with kids

Matakana River River Cruise and Kayak is a great way to enjoy and learn more about the famous Matakana Village and its surrounding area.  Departing from the wharf in Matakana you travel on the River Boat ‘Kotiti’ where your captain will provide you with a commentary about the fascinating history and natural features of the river as well as the rich bird and marine life you sill see.  Coming back you can board your own Kayak at lower Sandspit and travel back up the river.  If you have a member of your party who doesn’t want to Kayak they are welcome to travel back on the Riverboat.

9. Morris & James Pottery
Open everyday from 9am.  Families will love to wander through the extremely colourful pottery showroom to spot the native birds and flowers.  Follow them on Facebook to find out more about the kid friendly factory tours which give you a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse of the factory, held most days at 11am.   Luckily, there is also the Coffee Pot-tery Cafe on sight next to a great playground to explore.  Adults can enjoy a hot drink while the kids have a play.

Morris and James - Top 10 things to do with kids Matakana Coast

10. Walking and Hiking 

The Top 10 list of things to do with your kids would not be complete without a list of our favourite walking and hiking tracks in the region.  A great way to get the kids out from behind the screens.  There are walks along the beautiful coastline, numerous bush walks or perhaps a walk along a riverbank from the township of Warkworth or along the banks of the Puhoi River.  The range of walking trails cater for all ages and abilities – the challenge will be choosing which one to do.  Look out for the locals from the shorelines, bush or farmlands there will be plenty to observe and take pictures on your walk.  Remember to take water with you and some cash to buy produce from the numerous stalls dotted along the side of the road or as your passing through the many villages in the Matakana Coast.  We do ask, please take your rubbish with you, ‘Be a tidy Kiwi’ and help to keep our locals happy and safe.

Encounters' with locals - Top 10 things to do with kids

Depending on where you are heading stop in at Warkworth, Puhoi or Matakana Village for your favourite picnic food from the bakeries, cafes or supermarkets and then head out on your adventure or activity.  Or check out one of the many great Fish n’ Chip takeaways throughout the region – because who doesn’t love a freshly caught piece of fish.  You definitely won’t go hungry with so much to choose from.

Matakana Coast has plenty of accommodation options to suit your budget so you can stay a night or two and tick off another awesome experience on the Top 10 things to do with kids.