By Hannah Anderson
By Hannah Anderson
Matakana alongside the golden Omaha Beach are two of New Zealand’s favourite summer holiday spots with stunning holiday homes. But most homes sit completely empty over the winter months as the owners head to any other island in search of sun or snow. Not that I blame them – if I could I would, but being left here is not that bad at all. In fact it is probably my favourite time of year in this beautiful part of the world.
Located only 50 minutes from Auckland, yet enjoying a climate closer to that of ‘The Winterless North’, Matakana has something for everyone, year round. Though the climate is mild, the seasonal transitions are pronounced thanks to the vineyards and blossom trees that mark the dramatic change. Farm animals are visible at every turn – though this can get confusing when the lambs seem to appear in the middle of winter.
They say life is about the journey not just the destination and it is easy to get happily distratced on the journey to Matakana village especially if, like me, you love eclectic, up-cycled or recycled, antique or new gorgeous bits and pieces. Start your fossicking on route to Matakana with six independent shops that line the way and make up the Collectables Trail. Some favourites are the Red Barn Antiques, Rummage and Green with Envy, where you can also grab a Coffee Supreme and delicious snack from Ravish @ The Kiosk, right next door. After your coffee fix don’t miss the vintage and industrial gems over the road at Old School Inc. You can even stay there in their charming guest house.
If it’s a Saturday morning it would be churlish not to indulge at the Matakana Farmers Market. After sampling the vast array of artesan food on offer you may well feel the need to walk it off. Five minutes on from Matakana Village, and cleary sign-posted, is Omaha Beach – at its most stunning in the winter months. Crystal clear water, gentle waves and barely another soul in sight. The only people that seem to make the most of it are the dog owners and it is a dog’s paradise. You can start along the paths if you want to have a nosey at the architecture – there’ll be no one home so you don’t even have to be subtle about it. However, if a walk on the beach sounds too much like “a walk on the beach” then challenge yourself to Mount Tamahunga. A great walk, with well-marked paths, and stunning views from the top; then you really will deserve your fat chips.
Yes next stop – fat chips! You can’t go past Matakana without calling into the iconic Matakana Village Pub. In a beautifully restored old villa in the heart of the village The Pub really is the heart of the community. Sit around the outdoor fire and warm up with a mulled wine and the obligatory fat chips, or try a few of the local wines and craft beers they have on tap. Rated number one on Trip Advisor, the restaurant offers stand out food and quirky décor, whilst maintaining that traditional pub charm.
There are many more fabulous things to do in and around Matakana and it really does make a great day or weekend away no matter what time of year. Don’t miss the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail and Winery. The Vivian Gallery, just 10 minutes from Matakana village, and the village itself with gorgeous shops and a boutique cinema complex showing all the latest movies. There are beautiful accommodation options from rental houses, guest lodges and B&B’s.