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Halfway from Auckland to Matakana

matakana nzOn your way north for a weekend away? Come and stay at a Bed and Breakfast on the park. Accommodation close to Puhoi and Warkworth; we’re about halfway from Auckland to Matakana. The perfect retreat to relax and unwind.

Matakana: Well worth the drive

When I was a kid, Matakana was just a bend in the road on the way to, well, nowhere in particular. Now it’s a destination in itself, with its market and cinemas, as well as being a service centre for the upscale bach community at Omaha. (You know you’re not in any old small town when the Four Square stocks freeze-dried raspberry powder.) It’s also a lot closer to Auckland than it was in the 1980s, making it super-accessible for a day trip or, as we did, an easy overnight getaway.

With a weather window opening up between winter storms, we decided to escape the city for a school holiday family mini-break. Armed with a couple of Grab One deals and two preschoolers, we headed north late morning, in time for lunch at Plume.

Fortunately it’s warm enough to sit outside and let the children run ever-so-slightly riot in the gardens while we enjoy a glass of Runner Duck syrah – produced from grapes grown just down the road by restaurant manager Farida Cooper’s husband Clyde – and a superb meal, with views out over the Matakana countryside.

The shower clouds miraculously pass by on all sides without landing one drop on us.

It’s time to put our feet up and recover, so we head for our accommodation…. There are great rural views, and the kids and I head down to the river to throw sticks in the water, look for crabs and cockles and spot mangrove-monsters.

After our sumptuous lunch we almost don’t need to eat dinner, but head down to Matakana Village for a light meal at the pub. Built in 1903, apparently from the timber of a single kauri tree, it’s a sophisticated establishment now, with a tasty tapas menu as well as heartier mains. It’s wonderfully dark and quiet when we get back to our “bach”, and the kids enjoy the chance to see some real, unadulterated stars, the Milky Way brightly smeared across the sky.

The next day dawns beautifully fine ….. We eventually drag ourselves away and off …

We don’t feel ready to head back to town just yet, so visit Charlie’s Gelato Garden, surely a reason in itself to visit Matakana.

We head back to the city against the traffic, feeling as if we have been a lot further away from the city than just 45 minutes. The Matakana area has changed a lot, but it has retained its charm and beauty, with the positive addition of good food, wine and coffee and plenty of things to do.

By Sarah Ell