The journey from Auckland to the northern town takes less than an hour and is the place to board the ferry to Kawau Island.
Sandspit is a coastal settlement seven kilometres from Warkworth on the Mahurangi Peninsula. Snells Beach is to the south and the popular bohemian village of Matakana is to the north.
The trip aboard Reubens Cruises’ Kawau Kat takes just over half an hour. Kawau Island itself is a tranquil haven. Mansion House is there – the stately residence completed in 1872 and originally owned by New Zealand’s first governor, Sir George Grey – so too are wekas, tui, wood pigeon, wallabies and a pair of pushy peacocks. The colourful show-offs spend most of their time strutting around the palm-dotted grounds, staunchly defending the cafe entrance opposite the mansion.
Enjoy a leisurely 25-minute stroll to the lookout and stop for lunch to take in the spectacular views over Dispute Cove to the copper mine ruins below.
Back on the mainland be sure to visit the four donkeys that live on the hill overlooking Sandspit Holiday Park. Donkey dad Hercules, mum Xena and sons Zeus and Zac are super friendly and race up to the fence to get a pat on the head. Apples may also have something to do with it.
Then drive the 10 minutes down the road to the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, a unique environment where art and nature meet.
Richard and Christine Didsbury have created a type of art gallery set among the farmland and native bush of the Brick Bay Farm. Over 40 sculptures – most of which are for sale – dot the landscape. Metallic geometric shapes reflect the surrounding kanuka trees, giant windmills rise up from a farm hillside and corrugated forms float on a picture-perfect lake like wood shavings on the workshop floor.
The 2km walk is the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. Afterwards you can relax in the ultra-modern restaurant overlooking the lake while sipping on a glass of Brick Bay wine discussing your walk of art.
Sandspit is a 55-minute drive north of Auckland. Sandspit is on the Mahurangi Peninsula, 30 minutes from Mahurangi West, close to Warkworth and with Snells Beach and Algies Bay to the south. To the east is Scotts Landing and Mahurangi Heads. Matakana village is 10 minutes from Sandspit. The Matakana village farmers’ market is world famous for its locally grown produce and is a food lovers’ paradise. It is open Saturday from 9am until 1pm and Wednesday from 3pm to 7pm. Tawharanui regional park is 15 minutes from Sandspit. New Zealand’s first integrated open sanctuary is a 588-hectare park where native plants and animals including kiwi can live and breed successfully without the threat of predators. Brick Bay Sculpture Trail is open daily from 10am-5pm, adults $10, students $8 and children under five free.