auckland escape

Five of the best mini-breaks in Auckland

Auckland has plenty about it to love, but sometimes we all need and Auckland escape;  to get away from the big smoke.

If you’re already considering a mid-winter break but don’t want to break the bank, then a stay-cation rather than a vacation may be just the thing. And one of the great aspects of Auckland, because of its huge sprawl, is that there are some secret little corners that will make you think you’re not in Auckland anymore.

Stuff have put together a list of favourite spots on the fringes of the city, which will provide you with a getaway, be it just for the day or an overnighter. Either way, they’re guaranteed to show you a new side of Auckland and recharge your batteries. Looking for somewhere to stay on your Auckland mini-break? See if we have availability at the time you’d like to escape.

1. Goat Island, Leigh

Goat IslandSnorkeler surveying fish at Goat Island Marine Reserve in Leigh.

With pristine waters and friendly fish, the marine reserve of Goat Island in Auckland’s rural north is a world away from the hustle and bustle of big city Auckland. Though a dip in the water may not sound like the ideal holiday for a mid-winter break, the locals say its the perfect time to visit, with the weather conditions making for the most crystal clear waters.

You can tog up in a thick wetsuit provided by the local rental snorkelling shop, or if you really don’t want to get wet there are kayaks or a glass-bottomed boat offering 45-minute tours of the marine life. And then drift back to Leigh for a meal and a hot toddy. You can make it a day trip or stay at our B&B to make a weekend of it – and check out some of the other local attractions. Goat Island is about 40 minutes’ drive from our bed and breakfast.

2. Matakana


Mahurangi River winery is one of the finest of Matakana’s selection of vineyards.

So fins and a wet suit are not your cup of tea. Maybe a glass of pinot and a cheese platter is more your style. No problem, the north can cater for your tastes too. A mere hour away from Auckland’s CBD a sprawl of vineyards and cafes awaits you.

With plenty of accommodation, such as our B&B, you can easily extend your stay it into a weekend getaway. Enjoy the Matakana Farmer’s Market which takes place every Saturday and Sunday with a spread of fresh produce and great lunch food. We’d highly recommend the buffalo burgers. There is also a quality ice cream shop and a gallery of local arts and crafts to bring some of Matakana home with you.

3. Kawau Island
Kawau Island

Kawau is surrounded by clear blue water.

Auckland is a city of cars (and congestion and interminable traffic light delays at times). So where better to get away from Auckland without leaving Auckland than go where there are no cars. Get out onto the Hauraki Gulf and try Kawau Island, accessible only by a ferry or a water taxi from Sandspit – 25kms from our B&B. Once you’re there we guarantee the big smoke will be well out of your mind.

Take a walk along one of the Island’s many tracks, visit the Mansion House to dabble in some history and if your budget allows, stay in one of the Island’s cottages overnight.

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Exploring Matakana

Enjoy a taste of the good life on a road trip through Matakana Coast & Country.

With sparkling beaches, flourishing marine reserves, gourmet treats, character pubs and friendly towns, this area is a favourite getaway. It’s a dose of country living less than an hour north of Auckland City and just inside the region’s northern boundary – but this is Auckland as you’ve never experienced it before.

Begin your adventure at the historic village of Puhoi, which was settled by immigrants from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). Evidence of its Bohemian culture is still visible, particularly at the iconic Puhoi Pub with its interior filled with memorabilia.

At Puhoi you can also hire a kayak or canoe and paddle down the picturesque Puhoi River to the Wenderholm Regional Park – an expansive scenic park encompassing a long sandy beach, native forest and plenty of gorgeous scenery – before catching a courtesy coach back to Puhoi. Indulge on handcrafted cheeses and yoghurts at Puhoi Valley Café and Cheese Store before you set off for Warkworth.

Warkworth is the main town on the attention-grabbing Matakana Coast, with plenty of cafés, restaurants and boutique shops to explore. Take a stroll along the boardwalk lining the Mahurangi River in the heart of town, admire giant kauri trees at Parry Kauri Park, check out the museum or take a horse-riding trip. If you’re a craft beer fan or just like a good place to relax, visiting Tahi Bar is a must.

Just outside of Warkworth is Matakana, a village that’s becoming increasingly popular as a weekend getaway destination thanks to its laid-back lifestyle and boutique wineries. Matakana Village has a cinema, boutique shops, excellent restaurants and there are many wineries and vineyards in the surrounding district. Morris and James Pottery and Café is well worth a visit, and the whole family will love the Matakana Country Park with its petting zoo, pony rides, gallery, café and gift shop.

If the likes of mussel fritters, organic blueberry ice cream, locally made olive oil and cheeses, artisan baking, freshly brewed coffee and fresh produce has your mouth watering, a trip to the Matakana Farmers’ Market is a must. Held here on Saturday morning, these markets are not only a chef’s heaven, they also have a wonderful atmosphere. With live music and entertainment, friendly locals and bargains galore, this is a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

Around 15 minutes from Matakana is Leigh, a relaxed township known for the great live-music gigs at the Leigh Sawmill Café, which is also home to a brewery, restaurant and accommodation options. At Leigh you can also charter a boat to take you to local dive spots or wander around the harbourside walkway.

When you’re finished exploring Leigh, loop back towards Auckland via Pakiri Beach – horse riding is available here – and Wellsford before rejoining SH 1 and heading south towards Auckland City.

Matakana coast holiday park

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golf accommodation

Golf Courses Nearby

A guest recently inquired after golf courses close to our bed and breakfast at Mahurangi West and so I put together this list for him. I had imagined the list would be reasonably brief, but was surprised to realise just how many fantastic golf courses are in this region: the Matakana Coast and beyond to Mangawhai.

Here is the list:

  • Warkworth golf course: 20 minute drive from Mahurangi West
  • Omaha links: a 30 minute drive from Mahurangi West
  • Whangaparaoa golf course – Peninsula Golf Club: 20 minutes drive from Mahurangi West
  • Gulf Harbour golf course: a second golf course set further down Whangaparaoa peninsula and about about a 40 minute drive south from Mahurangi West. You can see the Whangaparaoa peninsula from your deck at the Mahurangi West Wing bed and breakfast.
  • Mangawhai golf course: (my brother likes this one) this is about 50 minutes’ drive from from Mahurangi West and  “the Mangawhai Golf Club has consistently been regarded as one of the top courses in New Zealand”.
  • Huapai: maybe a 25 minute drive from Mahurangi West to the west (my brother has also been known to sneak off to this one)
  • Wellsford: maybe a 30 minute drive north from Mahurangi West
  • Helensville: 30 minutes west from Mahurangi West

As you can see there are loads of places in this area to enjoy a great game of golf and according to a 2013 article I found on the ranking of New Zealand golf courses from New Zealand industry leaders,”Gulf Harbour also moved up from number 13 to number nine. Mangawhai Golf Club and the Carrington Resort in the far north snuck into the “Top 15”.

Sounds like good reason for golfers to be happy to me, and Mahurangi West B&B is close to all these courses: only about a 20-30  minute drive in all directions.

For bed and breakfast inquiries, please go to our reservations page.

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Less than an hour from Auckland city you will find one of New Zealand’s most picturesque destinations. Between Auckland city and Northland is 1500 square kilometres of rolling green countryside with stunning beaches, native bush, exotic islands, sheltered harbours and  coastal reserves, walking tracks, beautiful regional parks, boutique vineyards, friendly towns, villages, cafes, restaurants and  markets. The Matakana Coast area offers everything from a traditional Kiwi beachside holiday, to a day out wine-tasting at one of the many vineyards.

Matakana Village itself  is a small town in the Rodney District of New Zealand. Warkworth is about 9 km to the south-west, Snells Beach the same distance to the south, Omaha is about 7 km to the east, and Leigh is about 13 km to the north-east.

The area surrounding Matakana contains several vineyards and is well known for its farmers’ market, cinema, cafes, restaurants and boutique food shops.

As word has spread of Matakana as a lifestyle location and weekend getaway for many Aucklanders, so too has its popularity, transforming Matakana Coast & Country into one of New Zealand’s hottest new holiday destinations.

Mahurangi West, on the Matakana cost is about 5 kms from Puhoi, the gateway to the Matakana Coast and about a 30 minute drive to Matakana Village. Mahurangi West is a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of Matakana and is only a 10 minute drive from Ransom’s Winery. We offer luxury bed and breakfast accommodation and have excellent walking tracks through the Mahurangi Park and along the coast.

Call us on 09 4220521 for more information about the B&B accommodation at Mahurangi West Wing or go to our reservations page to make a booking.

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