Visit historic Warkworth, the hub of the Matakana Coast. Relax by the river, dine in style, follow the heritage trail or visit the Matakana Village Farmers’ Market.
Situated at the head of the Mahurangi River, laid-back Warkworth is the ideal place to begin your Matakana Coast adventure.
Founded in 1856 by John Anderson Brown, Warkworth’s historic buildings lend the town a charming ambience. The recently restored Warkworth Town Hall is a popular concert and theatre venue, while on the main street, the Warkworth Hotel and its iconic Norfolk pine are much-loved local landmarks.
Visit the Information Centre to pick up a map of the local heritage trail or follow the walkway along the banks of the Mahurangi River, once a bustling port for passenger steamers, sail boats and scows transporting goods to and from Auckland. Take a cruise on the restored scow Jane Gifford, feed the ducks with the kids or wander up to the Bridgehouse Hotel, the oldest surviving building in town.
The town bridge sits above a historic weir that provided fresh water for the town’s original industry, including a timber mill, a jam factory and the Wilson Cement Works. In the 1930s, the weir famously served as a bathing pond for elephants when the circus came to town.
A little out of town, the atmospheric ruins of the Wilson Cement Works is the perfect place for a misty morning stroll with the dog. It’s a popular picnic spot on hot days, too; confident swimmers can ‘bomb’ into the deep flooded quarry, or paddleboard up the river to town for a coffee.
To discover the town’s pioneering past, take a short drive to the Warkworth Museum. Kids love exploring the genuine World War 2 US Army huts, the original Warkworth jail and the model school house, hospital rooms and shops. The short stroll to the grove of giant kauri trees in neighbouring Parry Kauri Park is perfect for little legs (trail not suitable for strollers).
Just off State Highway 1, another historic walking trail winds through the huge totara and matai of Kowhai Park, past the 1884 lime kilns that were once part of the Wilson Cement Works – a great spot to stretch your legs if you’re heading north or south.
The thriving hub of the Matakana Coast, Warkworth is within easy reach of Pūhoi, Kaipara Flats, Mahurangi East, Matakana, Leigh and Wellsford. You’ll find boutique shops as well as larger chain stores, so it’s the perfect place to stock up for all your holiday needs or look for something special. Warkworth’s accommodation options include motels, lodges and B & Bs, and the burgeoning dining scene offers plenty of choice for a café brunch or a fine evening out.