Moving to Matakana – North Auckland
Not so long ago Matakana was a sleepy little village that people passed through on their way to coastal destinations such as Leigh, Omaha or Tawharanui.
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Matakana started out as a sawmilling area in the 1800s, supplying timber to shipwrights, and had a port on the Matakana River where boats – on the right tides – would pick up and deliver supplies and produce. Once all the kauri in the area had been felled and processed, farming and orcharding took over.
Largely a rural service centre since then, the village has been rejuvenated within the past 10 years – driven by the establishment of a farmers market and adjoining retail and cinema complex as well as wineries in the surrounding countryside. The fact that it is within an hour’s drive of Auckland also adds to its appeal.
Matakana has become a destination in its own right and also serves as a popular stop-off for supplies for people heading out to their coastal baches at places such as Omaha.
Property investor Richard Didsbury began that transformation when he purchased the old sawmill site in Matakana and, with the help of architect Noel Lane, redeveloped it to accommodate the farmers market, movie theatre and shops.
About the same time he was mulling over what to do with the site in the mid-1990s, Didsbury began planting grapes at Brick Bay which would eventually supply the winery. He followed in the footsteps of others who began planting vineyards and setting up wineries in the 1980s. The establishment of wineries as well as the development of the village have combined to make Matakana a popular place to live and visit. And with that popularity has come more shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and galleries.
Controlling the growth of Matakana has also become an issue with locals keen to retain the village’s character by preventing urban sprawl and “ribbon development up the main road”. Neville says while it’s not a sentiment he shares, many locals would also oppose big barn retailers or fast food restaurants coming to town.
Matakana has an eclectic mix of people all doing something including artists, writers and musicians as well as business people, farmers, families and retired people. This all adds to the diversity.
The other thing in Matakana’s favour is its proximity to Auckland. While it is a lovely rural area it is only 45 minutes to the Auckland CBD out of rush hour traffic. There are many people that have moved north to escape the rat race and love the lifestyle on offer in the area, while still a relatively easy commute to the city. Matakana North Auckland – a destination in its own right.