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Your guide to Matakana
All About Matakana
Named after the Matakana River that flows through it, Matakana is a small town home to several vineyards and breweries, craft outlets, farmers markets, and country-side cafes, offering a glimpse into New Zealand’s rural life. The Matakana River snakes through the village, creating a serene setting for kayaking beside the lush river banks. If you follow the river to the coast, you’ll reach Kawau Bay, which is lined by Snells Beach to the west. Here you’ll find wide swaths of golden sand and shallow turquoise water, perfect for safe swimming. There is a long boardwalk where you can take a stroll or a bike ride and look out at views of Kawau Island. The island can be reached by ferry or water taxi and is home to the historical Mansion House, idyllic beaches, and peacocks and wallabies that can be spotted wandering around.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Matakana?
Matakana has four distinct seasons; however, note that since Matakana is in the southern hemisphere, summer is from December to February and winter is from June to August. One of the best times to book an accommodation in Matakana is during the summer, which offers pleasant weather with mild temperatures and little to no rainfall. The city organizes several events in the summer, including food and beer festivals and a Vibes in the Vineyard music festival.
Spring and autumn bring color to Matakana’s natural landscape. During spring, you’ll want to catch the cherry blossom blooms in Matakana Village, while in autumn, experience the changing fall foliage in Puhoi Village. These seasons also have cold spells, so you’ll want to pack layers if you visit Matakana during this time. Although Matakana receives more rain in the winter, the temperatures remain fairly mild, making it an enjoyable time to explore the hiking trails here.
What are the top things to do in Matakana?
Matakana Village Farmers Market
The riverside farmers market in Matakana Village is open Saturdays from the mornings through early afternoons. You’ll find fresh local produce here, as well as products made from ingredients sourced in the region such as honey, coffee, olive oil, and baked goods. There are also stalls serving up full meals, including burgers and brunch, and you’ll be able to sample some locally made cider and wine, as well. Live music performances happen every weekend and there is a playground for kids to explore. The market is zero-waste, so be sure to bring your own bags.
Matakana Wine Trail
Matakana is home to several vineyards that produce excellent wines made from locally grown grapes. Wine has been produced in this region since the 1950s, and traditionally it has been red wines, like merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah that have flourished here, though some whites have also been produced with great success. Most of the varieties made here in Matakana are boutique, meaning they are made in very small quantities — this may be the only place you’ll get to try them.
Goat Island Marine Reserve
Head 20 minutes northeast of Matakana and take a ferry to Goat Island where you’ll find New Zealand’s first marine reserve. Once overfished, the area became a protected region in 1975 and since then has become a rich ecological area with over 1,000 species of marine life. You can dive or snorkel here to get a closer look at the creatures and plant life that make this island their home, and to explore the underwater cliffs and canyons where they live. Some of the gorgonian fans, lace coral, and sponges are hundreds of years old, so divers must be careful not to disturb them.