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

Family walks including for people with tiny legs.

Walks for those with tiny legs

From ancient kauri trees to tidal pools and waterfalls, the Matakana Coast has plenty to intrigue the little explorers in the family.  Pack a picnic and allow plenty of time to explore the rock pools, listen to bird calls or pick up sticks along the way.

Parry Kauri Park, Warkworth – 10 to 30 minutes

This accessible, easy set of boardwalks weaves amongst magnificent kauri trees – some up to 800 years old. Choose which sections you complete and spend 10 to 30 minutes enjoying the dense bush and vast kauri.  This walk sits alongside the Warkworth Museum which is a great place for kids to visit with interactive displays and information that give insights into the lives and pursuits of our pioneering heritage.

Scotts Landing, Mahurangi East – 30 minutes

Historic Scott Homestead is a handsome backdrop for a low tide ramble out to Casnell Island – toddlers will love this. Spot sea creatures in the rock pools, see who can find the most glorious shells and savour the views of Mahurangi Harbour, before enjoying a picnic on the Homestead’s lawns.

Snells Beach waterfront, Mahurangi East

Head to Snells Beach waterfront for an easy, flat walk along the foreshore footpath. Kids can scoot their pedal-free bikes, paddle safely in the shallows or enjoy a kick about with a ball. There’s also a playground, a café at the northern end and plenty of shady trees for your picnic.

Highfield Garden Reserve, Mahurangi East – 15 minutes

With easy access pathways, beautiful views and friendly donkeys, this walk is bound to appeal families with little ones. Feed the donkeys and then follow the paths upwards to take in splendid views. A side trail leading down through the bush to Algies Bay has numerous steps and is not suitable for pushchairs.  Access the Highfield Garden Reserve from the carpark on Mahurangi East Road, between Snells Beach and Algies Bay.

Family Walks including for people with tiny legs

Great family walks

Ti Point Coastal Walk – 2 hours return

This gentle, sheltered walk along the southern coastline of Ti Point peninsula is popular with young families. You’ll pass through native bush, sandy beaches and rocky coves with lovely views of Omaha, Tāwharanui and Hauturu Little Barrier.

You’ll drive right passed Ti Point Reptile Park open everyday from 10am.  Stop in and get up close with over 40 species of native and exotic reptiles, alligators, turtles and spiders.

The walking track begins at the car park at the end of Ti Point Road, by a picturesque wharf and popular fishing spot. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on lead to protect the kororā (little blue penguins) that nest along the shoreline. In wet weather it can be slippery in places. Watch out for tree roots.

Matheson’s Bay Track – 40 minute loop

From Matheson Bay beach, follow the west side of the stream across the grassy reserve, to find the start of the track. The trail climbs gently through native bush rich with flora and fauna including kauri, rimu and pōhutukawa trees, native ferns and nikau palms, and darting birdlife such as kōtare (kingfisher), kākā (the north island’s native parrot), kererū (wood pigeon) and riroriro (grey warbler).

The track is well maintained with stairs over the steeper sections. At the end of the track you’ll emerge onto Leigh Road, where you can either turn round and return through the bush, or follow Matheson Bay Road and complete the loop down to the beach.

Matakana to Omaha or Point Wells Walkway & Cycleway – 7 km

This walkway and cycleway is a community initiative linking the coastal settlements of Omaha and Point Wells with the vibrant village of Matakana. Starting at Plume Café in Matakana Village, cross the wooden footbridge overlooking the waterfall then turn right across the fields to Tongue Farm Road. Here you’ll find the first terracotta wayfinder column engraved with the trail map and local topography, made by the talented artisans at the neighbouring Morris & James Pottery. Pop in for a coffee or the free daily tour.

Continue along Tongue Farm Road until you see a wayfinder column on your left, and follow the trail to the top of the hill. Cross over Whitmore Road and continue along the side of Takatu Rd. At trail’s end, cross over the road for your next wayfinder, with a bench seat and spectacular views across the orchards to Ti Point, Omaha Beach and Little Barrier.

The short gravel descent is steep and even experienced cyclists may need to dismount and descend with caution. At the bottom of the hill, the trail descends gently through eucalyptus trees to Jones Road, where you can pop into OOB for a real fruit ice cream in the summer.
At the north end of Jones road you have a choice: turn right to cross the causeway for Omaha Beach, and grab a coffee and something delicious to eat from the Farmer’s Daughter or go straight ahead through farmland to Point Wells for tidal swimming.

The trail follows a mix of gravel pathways and rural roads, so is not suitable for wheelchairs or small children on bicycles. Confident younger children may be able to cycle the section between Point Wells and Omaha, but will need close parental supervision as sections of the trail run alongside busy roads. All riders should exercise caution on the ascent and descent to Takatu Road.

Omaha Beach

With white sands stretching four kilometres Omaha Beach is a popular destination for a morning or evening stroll.

Wander over the sands, or follow the footpath that rises and falls behind the dunes skirting stunning architecturally-designed homes, with stunning views to Hauturu Little Barrier and beyond. The path runs from the Surf Club car park to the southern end of the beach and is safely shared by walkers, dogs and cyclists.

Along the way you’ll pass five pouwhenua handcarved by local iwi. At the southern end of the beach, you can walk around the rocks at low tide to secluded Pink Beach, a popular picnic spot. Or stay on the footpath as it curves inland and to the left of the tennis courts, where you’ll find a tranquil pond teeming with bird life. Energetic walkers can continue around to the Quarry Loop, with more than 130 steps and views as far as Great Barrier and the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula on a clear day.

At the northern end of Omaha Beach, a dotterel reserve is tucked away behind an impressive, community organised, predator-proof fence. Quiet, careful visitors might catch a glimpse of some of the world’s rarest birds. No dogs allowed and remember to give the birds plenty of space.

Tāwharanui

With white sand beaches, rolling pasture and lush native forestTāwharanui Regional Park is undoubtedly one of the jewels of the Matakana Coast. The 588-hectare park is New Zealand’s first integrated open sanctuary and has walks to suit most ages and abilities.

From the Anchor Bay car park, the Mangatawhiri Walk offers a 20-minute ramble through regenerating wetland – an excellent way to glimpse wildlife.

At the east end of Anchor Bay, you’ll find the Sanctuary Hut where you can learn about the wildlife and the park. Then head out on the 4-kilometre Ecology Trail through wetlands and atmospheric native bush, over grassy hilltops and along the ocean’s edge. An astonishing array of native wildlife can be found in these habitats. The Ecology Trail is for most levels of ability (including young children) but there are plenty of steps, some hills and a few rocky outcrops to climb around.

The sanctuary is protected by a predator-proof fence and dedicated community volunteers, so remember to leave your dog at home.

Tawharanui Walking Family Walks including with people with tiny legs

 

Leigh Harbour Trail – 1 hour return

Starting from Leigh Harbour boat ramp, walk along the rocky foreshore. You will climb steps to the head of the harbour, cross two pedestrian bridges and follow a boardwalk to get to the shade of the bush track. Continue on the trail or take a side path up and over the hill through a stand of kauri trees. Both paths reconverge ahead of a sandy beach, perfect for a refreshing dip before you return the way you came.

Take extra care on the bush track – in places it is narrow with a steep drop. The first part of the track may be underwater at high tide; alternative access is available from Ferndale Avenue. Dogs allowed on leash.

Goat Island Walkway – 3km, 2 hours return

Leave your car in the main Goat Island car park and follow the driveway to the University of Auckland’s Marine Laboratory, where the start of the walking track is well signposted on the right hand side.  The Marine Lab discovery centre is a fantastic place for children to experience marine life.

The gravel walkway runs behind the Marine Lab to the cliff-top where you can enjoy views over Goat Island and Pakiri beyond. The track winds downwards into coastal broadleaf forest and ends at Tabletop Reef – where more remarkable views of the Hauraki Gulf stretch out to Hauturu Little Barrier and the Hen and Chicks islands.

On your way back, pop into the visitors’ centre where kids will enjoy the exhibits and touch tanks or hire snorkelling gear down on the beach and marvel at the diverse sea life of New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve.

Pakiri Beach

The untouched, sandy wilds of Pakiri Beach stretch for more than 9 kilometres, bordered by crashing surf and sand dunes. You can cross the river on the beach and walk all the way north to Forestry and Te Arai beaches, or head to the southern end to search for tiny marine life in the rock pools under the cliffs. Leave your pets at home as this stretch of coastline is home to a handful of New Zealand’s most endangered endemic bird, the tara iti (fairy tern). The tide is very strong so swimming is not recommended – the estuary’s shallows, however, are an excellent habitat for paddling about, especially for younger visitors.

Pakiri Beach Family Walks including people with Tiny Legs

 

Mahurangi West – 30 minutes to 3 hours

This Mahurangi Regional Park has several beautiful walks to suit all abilities, ranging from 30 minutes to 3 hours – there’s even an orienteering course! Three beaches line the coast of Mahurangi West and the walks wind through the area’s epic scenery, allowing you to savour some of the most breathtaking views in the region.

The Te Muri Track takes about 2 hours and is roughly 6km long. Leave your car in the upper carpark at the park’s entrance, and follow the path down to the Te Muri estuary – where you can cross at low tide. Across the estuary there is an historic cemetery as well as lovely Te Muri beach, accessible only by boat or on foot.

Mt Tamahunga Walk – 2.5km, 90 minutes to the summit

The climb to the summit of Mt Tamahunga requires a good level of fitness and stout walking boots, but you’ll be rewarded by the deep tranquility of native bush and peeks of a distant Omaha Bay to the east.

To access the track, drive past Matakana Village to Omaha Valley Road and at 1km look for the car park. The track heads almost immediately upwards crossing undulating farmland and sometimes passing curious cattle, to reach the bushline. Adventurous children will enjoy the well maintained bush track, although you may need to embrace muddy patches and scramble over a few steep spots.

Once at the summit you can either return the way you came, or continue your hike north to Rodney Road for sweeping coastal views (2 hours), or west along a section of the Te Araroa trail to Matakana Valley Road (1 hour). This 2.5km track descends gently through native bush to with stunning rural views through the trees.

Mt Tamahunga - Walks for family and tiny legs

Discover Matakana Coast’s ‘Top 10’ places to visit

Discover New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve at Goat Island

This marine reserve surrounding the tiny Goat Island or Te Hāwere-a-Maki is one of the most popular snorkelling/diving spots in the Auckland Region as is New Zealand’s first marine reserve.  As a “no-take” zone fish are fearless and plentiful, which makes the whole trip worthwhile and you don’t even have to get your feet wet to enjoy it!  

Less than 10 mins from the township of Leigh you can make a day of it at Goat Island picking up essentials from Matakana Village on your way in, to enjoy on the beach or check out one of the cool eateries including The Leigh Sawmill for a taste of Leigh Fish no doubt caught that day. 

Top 10 things to do Goat Island Marine Reserve - Matakana Coast

Discover the boutique Matakana Coast vineyards

Less than one hour’s drive north of Auckland City the Matakana vineyards offer boutique wines for tasting, luxury accommodation, restaurants and stunning views of the region a must add to your day out in Matakana Coast. 

The vineyards are constantly evolving and reflect with distinction their sense of place, climate and community and offer one of the most diverse mixes of grape varieties in New Zealand: 28 different French, Italian, Spanish, even Austrian varieties, comprising 11 whites and 17 reds.

Our white wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Albarinõ show consistent excellence, and the climate is also warm enough to ripen such red wine varieties as Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Be sure to taste the silky Italian varieties such as Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Montepulciano.

 

Top 10 things to do Wineries Matakana Coast

 

Discover a local favourite Charlies Gelato 

The most challenging part of visiting Charlies Gelato on the outskirts of Matakana is weighing up which flavour to choose. Luckily they provide tasters so you can make an informed decision. From dairy-free sorbetto, to deliciously creamy gelato you’d be mad not to sample several. 

There are a ludicrous number of flavours, ranging from delicious takes on old classics, sorbets (elderflower and boysenberry is a standout) as well as recognised Kiwi flavours including Feijoa and Jaffa.  Unlike other faux-gelato makers, the flavours are truly on par.  The banana gelato tastes exactly like its real-life counterpart, and when paired with a scoop of their dark chocolate, it has an almost uncanny resemblance to freshly made banana cake.  

One successful visit to Charlies will confirm that these Matakana locals are doing their bit to better gelato, in all of its varying forms.

Top 10 things to do Charlies Gelato - Matakana Coast

Discover the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail 

If you are spending time in the Matakana Coast make sure you take a detour to visit Brick Bay Sculpture Trail (and winery), located less than 10 mins from Warkworth.  Little and large come together seamlessly on the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail. Nestled in the grounds of its namesake vineyard, you need only to step into the foyer to find a selection of bijou art pieces – handbag-sized and ready to go.  

Once on the trail itself, which forges a route through a surprisingly wild environment largely managed by Mother Nature, some sculptures grow in scale, while others sit modestly in the foliage. There is a spectacle to see (and often hear) in every corner, from the water lily lake to the burgeoning kauri forest. You can easily spend hours here. Bright dinosaurs are currently proving a big hit with kids, while the commanding follies, constructed every year following an annual competition to elicit emerging Kiwi talent, always draw the eye.

 

Top 10 things to do Brick Bay Sculpture Trail - Matakana Coast

Discover the riverside town of Warkworth

Everyone often passes through Warkworth on a road trip to Northland or heading to one of the white sandy beaches on the east of Matakana Coast.  People need to plan to stop either for an hour or two, or consider making it their base while exploring the Matakana Coast.  Warkworth is a picturesque riverside town located on the banks of the Mahurangi River, packed with heritage architecture shops and some seriously awesome cafes and restaurants – hint: Chocolate Brown Cafe, Warkworth Hotel just a couple of ideas?

If Heritage and Architecture is your thing a visit to Warkworth Museum with a mock up room of a home that would be the style all over the Warkworth area back in the 1920’s The museum is set in the stunning surroundings of the Parry Kauri Park where you can see the largest Kauri Tree on the East Coast of New Zealand estimated to be over 700 years old.

Top 10 things to do Mahurangi River Warkworth

Discover Pūhoi Valley Café and Cheese Store

Go ahead and pinch yourself. With so much gourmet goodness on offer, you might just think you’re dreaming.  Pūhoi Valley is every turophile fantasy. Brimming with stacked camembert in the chillers, creamy wedges toppling over the counter, cheese tasting by the bucket-load and award-winning blues churning behind large picture windows – and that’s all before the fresh milk, yoghurt and ice cream. 

Just 40 minutes north of Central Auckland, the venue sits in grounds as heavenly as the produce and even non-cheeseaholic will enjoy the native forest and water fountains. Dine like a king on the terrace and then pop indoors to admire the new wheels of cheese residing in the cellar. Polish off your visit with a bottle of Puhoi flavoured milk, the sweetest of treats no matter what your age.

Top 10 things to do Puhoi Valley Cheese Board - Matakana Coast

Discover Oyster shucking in style

If you’re bivalve-curious there’s no better experience for sampling seafood than on board the Shuckleferry.  Departing daily from Scotts Landing at the very tip of Māhurangi East Peninsula, the Shuckleferry is a unique, flat-hulled boat that takes you on a tour of the harbour’s oyster farms. 

Māhurangi Harbour is also known as the Jade River because of its colour and length, with the head stretching all the way back to Warkworth. The western coves and bays are ideal growing grounds for oysters, as nutrient-rich currents circle through the narrow harbour entrance and into the shallow tidal waters. 

Today, the harbour is home to 13 separate farms, with the largest covering more than 250 acres. 

Aboard the Shuckleferry you’ll learn all about the delicious kaimoana. Like the fact that it takes 12 months for an oyster to grow to full size, depending on the amount and quality of nutrients in the sea. As filter-feeders, each oyster will process 100 litres of water each day, and if they’re left high and dry when the tide goes out, they seal shut. Which also means they’ll keep for up to three days once harvested, retaining all their juices in the shell. 

You’ll have an opportunity to shuck your own oysters and sample them straight from the shell or gently steamed on the barbecue drizzled in garlic butter. 

Top 10 things to do NZ Oyster Farm Tours

Discover Tāwharanui Regional Park

After visiting Tāwharanui Regional Park you can see how it can boast of being one of New Zealand’s most beautiful white sand beaches, surrounded by rolling pastures, shingled bays, native coastal forest and regenerating wetlands.  It is considered to be one of the best swimming and surfing venues in the Auckland region and with the shady pohutukawa trees a perfect spot for a picnic which many families can be seen doing during the warmer months.  

A favourite activity is the Ecology Trail where you encounter multiple native bird life – think Takahē and Dotterel: fauna and forest.  If you are on a Kiwiwness Tour at night you might might even come across a Kiwi.  Remember as an Open Sanctuary you need to leave ‘Rover the dog’ at home and bring supplies you won’t find in a corner store here!

For those of you who are interested in an overnight stay you are in luck, there is a large campground in the Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary The campground is situated on the north eastern coast behind the sand dunes and between Phoenix Reef and Comet Rock. Beware this is a popular camping spot and you must book early to secure.  

Top 10 things to do Kiwiness Tours Tāwharanui Regional Park

Discover the walkways of Matakana Coast

A fantastic way to discover the Matakana Coast is on foot, exploring one of the many walking tracks on offer with varying degrees of fitness offered.  From sheltered leisurely bush walks containing waterfalls and native trees including the mighty Kauri to coastal pathways offering breathtaking views you will not be disappointed.  

A section of Te Araroa – New Zealand’s Trail also runs through the Matakana Coast, starting in Mangawhai and travelling through to  Pakiri, connecting to the Mt Tamahunga Track then onto Govan Wilson to Puhoi Valley track and finishing in Puhoi

Two of the favourite local walks include Ti Point Coastal Walk a family-friendly walk starting at Ti Point wharf near the Whangateau harbour.  Offering amazing views out to Omaha beach and out to Little Barrier on a clear day.  You are likely to catch sight of local fisherman fishing of the end of Ti Point along with divers looking for the crayfish along the rocks.  There’s a nice picnic spot with a table just a few hundred meters from the start and several good swimming spots and places to play on the rocks at low tide. 

The second is the Dome Valley Summit Track which offers amazing views including a mystical Kauri grove.  The walk itself starting at the Dome Valley tearooms starts fairly easy going but does turn into a serious tramp – so make sure you are fit.  Enjoy the views you will get across the Mahurangi peninsula before heading up to the Dome Summit, making sure you listen out for the native birdlife.  Please note this track does cross land sacred to local iwi so please be respectful and stick to the track.   

Top 10 things to do Walking Tracks Matakana Coast

Discover one of the oldest Farmers Market in New Zealand

Pick up fresh local produce at the Matakana Village Farmers Market on Saturdays.  Fill your basket with delicious local cheese, artisan breads, oysters, handmade chocolates, olive oils, craft beers & ciders.  Make sure you munch out on a fresh Manaki Whitebait Fritter by the river’s edge while enjoying a coffee from Matakana Coffee Roasters.  Watch out for the cheeky eels and ducks checking out all the visitors and hoping for a morsel. 

If you can’t make Saturday don’t worry, many of the producers at the market can be visited at the Matakana Village 7 Days a week or purchased at the local ‘4 Square’ and at a number of the boutique food shops located throughout the Matakana Coast region. 

Top 10 things to do Matakana Farmers Market