The Best of Matakana Coast: Itinerary & Top Things To Do

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The Matakana Coast is a great destination to take the family either on a road trip up north or a day trip from Auckland. Whether you’re travelling or live in New Zealand, discovering this new up-and-coming tourist hub is one of the best ways to explore Auckland North.

In this post, we’ll take you on a road trip from Auckland North to the best attractions and must-stops on the Matakana Coast. We’ll explore Matakana Coast’s most family-friendly things to do, and together with our photos and vlogs, you can plan out your own family day trip to the Matakana Coast with ease.

We’ll divide this guide into 2 sections: a day trip from Auckland and a road trip to the best destinations on the Matakana Coast.

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Day Trips from Auckland North Matakana Coast Top Things To Do Featured

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New Zealand Travel Guides by Region: North Island

Northland: Paihia | Tutukaka Coast | Whangarei
Auckland: Clevedon Coast | Matakana Coast | Waiheke Island | Waitakere Ranges
Waikato: Coromandel | Hamilton | Raglan
Bay of Plenty: Rotorua
Taranaki: Egmont National Park
Manawatu-Manganui: Tongariro

Discover Matakana Coast on Google Map

Day Trip from Auckland

Matakana Village Saturday Farmers Market

Opening Hours: Every Saturday 9am – 2pm

If you’re only making a day trip from Auckland on a Saturday, let Matakana Market be one of your first stops. Aim to get there before 10am (if not earlier) because the market is only vibrant in the mornings, and the stalls will start to pack up around 1pm. Schedule other destinations around the Matakana Market.

© Photos by Kida

To our surprise, Matakana Market attracts a rather large crowd, especially on a hot summer day. From tourists to locals, people gather here for a nice day out. What we love the most about this market, is its atmosphere.

© Photos by Kida

Right by the entrance, there’s a dog sitting service where you can leave your dog here for some love and pats from friendly strangers. You might meet a talking parrot welcoming you to the market from time to time. There’s live music, playgrounds, sitting areas by the river, and even a little fish pond! Kids love it here.

© Photos by Kida

Most stalls now take cards, but it’s always convenient to bring some cash with you. ATM is available near the restaurant.

There’s no short of fresh produce at Matakana market, you can find organic seasonal fruits, vegetables and free-range eggs. Most stalls have tasting samples for their organic products, you’re most welcome to try.

© Photos by Kida

Here, you can find really good coffee, hot chocolate, and freshly blended fruit juice. Breakfast or brunch options will satisfy most taste buds. Mussel fritters, big breakfast, homemade pastry, dumplings, pies, and more! Make sure to leave home in the morning with an empty stomach.

© Photos by Kida

Kids will find eye-catching apple candy and marshmallow skewers here, so be warned parents, save some cash for treats, especially those cute cupcakes, most kids will be nagging for some!

Matakana Village Saturday Market Strawberry-Season Pregnant with Kids Fresh Local Produce
Strawberry season!

© Photos by Kida

Ladies, don’t miss out on designer boutique fashion shops scattered around the market. I found some of the most unique clothing here at reasonable prices and went on an unexpected shopping spree instead. Yes, very guilty indeed.

Matakana Boutique Shopping Spree Original
Matakana Shopping Spree

© Photos by Kida

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Matakana Oysters

If you love oysters, Matakana Oysters is one stop you must not miss. Satisfy your taste buds and indulge in the freshest Oysters here at Matakana Oysters!

The Matakana Oysters shop is only about 1km up Leigh Rd, a few minutes drive from Matakana Market. It offers a range of oyster products, including half a dozen or a dozen, freshly shucked or not, small, medium or large oysters based on your preferences.

© Photos by Kida

On a winter day, don’t leave Matakana without trying their hot oyster soup! It’s so seriously satisfying, your tummy will be warm and happy for the rest of the day!

Hot Tips

If you’re getting the oyster soup, buy some freshly baked pastry from Matakana Market before you go!

It’s worthwhile to give them a ring before you go, just in case the harvest season is over.

Matakana Oysters
Matakana Oysters

© Photos by Kida

Matakana Village Restaurants

If you’re here to have lunch or to host guests visiting Auckland, there are many award-winning cafés and restaurants that will be sure to impress! For example, Plume Café and Rusty Pelican, just to name a few.

As for desserts, you must try a real fruit ice-cream! It’s guilt-free delicious!

© Photos by Kida

Boutique Vineyards

Matakana is known for its award-winning wines, which you can find in many local boutique vineyards. If none of the restaurants near Matakana Market fancies you, choose one of the boutique vineyards to have lunch or brunch.

Our family tried two of the top-rated vineyards on the Matakana Coast. One is Ascension Wine Estate and the other one is Omaha Bay Vineyard.

Ascension Wine Estate

This vineyard often gets booked out for wedding functions and events. Ascension Wine Estate is beautifully decorated in a classic European fairy tale style inside and out.

Our toddler loved exploring the gardens and spotting grapes on the vines at Ascension.

© Photos by Kida

Omaha Bay Vineyard

On the day we visited Omaha Bay Vineyard, it was pouring down with rain. So there weren’t a lot of people here at the time.

The unique thing about this vineyard is their little gallery leading to the restaurant seating area. No photos were allowed in there, so I took a photo from the outside peeking into the gallery to give you an idea.

Omaha-Bay-Vineyard-Restaurant-Seating-Area
Omaha Bay Vineyard

© Photos by Kida

There were heaters and blankets in the outdoor dining area, sheltered from the rain and cold. We ordered an antipasto to share with an extra hummus & bread on the side.

© Photos by Kida

Matakana Country Park & Sculptureum

If you’re travelling with kids, you may have to skip the vineyards and come straight to Matakana Country Park. This park hosts a range of activities such as horse-riding, miniature train rides, a nature walk where you can see horses and of course a playground for kids.

© Photos by Kida

There is also a craft and souvenir shop, a gallery and cafés & restaurants. If that’s not enough, there’s an Action Ninja World to burn off the extra energy those kids still have left.

© Photos by Kida

The Sculptureum is not far from Matakana Country Park and is worth a visit as well. On the day we went to Omaha Bay Vineyard, the restaurant Rothko at Sculptureum was also bustling with a great atmosphere despite the rain.

Heading Back to Auckland
If you’re on a day trip from Auckland, then it’s about time to wrap up and start heading back. Most of these places below close early in the afternoons, so choose and pick the ones that interest you the most and squeeze them in either before Matakana Market or finish early at Country Park.

Chocolate Brown

Closes at 3pm.

Chocolate Brown has some of the most delicious handcrafted chocolates in town. Relax and try its famous hot chocolate at the busy café! Chocolate lovers must not miss this little boutique shop.

Honey Centre Warkworth

Honey Centre Warkworth has the most delicious honey-flavoured ice-creams. This is usually our must-stop on the way back to Auckland to recharge, entertain our toddler, fill up our BYO bottle with 1L of honey, and get two scoops of flavoursome ice-creams.

Puhoi Valley Cheese Co

Closes at 4:30pm on the weekends

Puhoi Valley Cheese Co is not just for cheese lovers. If you don’t mind a little detour, this café is known for its award-winning rich and creamy ice-creams. The café has a great atmosphere, excellent choices of breakfast and brunch. Cheese tasting is available for cheese lovers.

© Photos by Kida

Matakana Accommodation

Before we dive into the top road trip destinations on the Matakana Coast, here are four of our hand-picked top-rated family-friendly holiday homes, apartments and luxury stay on the Matakana Coast.

Alternatively, you can search on Booking.com below or browse through BookABach for other accommodation on the Matakana Coast.

Road Trip Destinations

Sheepworld

New Zealand is known to have more sheep than people, so this is a great stop for farm animal lovers. If you have a few days to explore the Matakana Coast or don’t mind coming back on a day trip from Auckland, Sheepworld is the best place to learn about wool production, sheepdog, and entertaining farm shows.

The best thing about Sheepworld is it doesn’t affect you rain or shine!

Make sure to check out travel deals for discounted admissions. BookMe offers the best price if you can make it to their time slots either in the morning or afternoon.

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Things to do with kids in Auckland on a rainy day

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach is known for its long stretch of smooth white sand and crystal clear water. Relax at Omaha Beach and let the kids play in the sand. There’s a few eateries near Omaha Beach, so don’t worry about lunch and spend a day at Omaha.

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Omaha Beach

© Photos by Kida

Whangateau Reserve

Whangateau Reserve is a little hidden gem loved by locals. There is a playground and very calm water for the kids to play in. Pack a picnic, put up a beach tent and relax here for the afternoon.

Whangateau-Reserve-Matakana-Coast
A quiet and relaxing afternoon at Whangateau Reserve away from the crowd

© Photos by Kida

Ti Point Wharf & Reptile Park

Ti Point Wharf is a nice little stopover to stretch your legs, enjoy the scenery and watch people fishing on the wharf. If you’re travelling with kids, you may be interested in Ti Point Reptile Park.

© Photos by Kida

Matheson Bay Reserve

Similar to Whangateau Reserve, Matheson Bay also has a playground and the beach is calm and suitable for families with young kids.

Mum and Toddler at beach watching over rainbow
Matheson Bay Beach on this glorious day

© Photos by Kida

I went for a walk while the rest of the family was at the playground. I didn’t wander too far and discovered a little lookout up the hill near the playground. It’s on the eastern side of the Reserve if you want to find it on the map. This was the hidden gem I enjoyed the most here at Matheson Reserve, so be sure to walk a few steps for a panoramic view of the coast.

© Photos by Kida

Leigh Eats Takeaways

Usually, by the time we get to Leigh, we’re all hungry and need a quick bite. We found this busy takeaway by accident and have been coming back here ever since.

Grab some fish and chips at Leigh Eats, they make the best burgers and fish and chips around here.

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Leigh Eats

© Photos by Kida

Leigh Sawmill

If you want to sit down and have a proper lunch, Leigh Sawmill is a popular place to dine. To be honest, I felt Sawmill was a bit formal and overpriced for our family. But hey, many people come here with friends and relatives for a nice lunch on the weekend, and there’s a little playground for tots, so it might be just the right restaurant for your family’s occasion.

Sawmill also offers accommodation if you’re interested.

Photo © Leigh Sawmill

Goat Island & Marine Reserve

Goat Island is known for its marine reserve and is one of the top snorkelling spots you’ll find on the North Island. On a hot summer day, the black sand of this beach can be very hot, yet the beach is still packed with people.

© Photos by Kida

Bring your tent, beach blankets, snorkel gear and see what you can spot at the Marine Reserve. There will be a lot of people in the water, so just follow the crowd!

Alternatively, book a Glass Bottom Boat tour (summer only Oct-) or hire a kayak and enjoy the beauty of Goat Island without even getting wet! You can hire snorkel gear and transparent kayaks right on the beach.

© Photos by Kida

Plan ahead and avoid paying full price! Check out these amazing BookMe travel deals for massive discounts on Goat Island hires and tours!

My very honest thoughts on Goat Island

I feel the need to share my honest thoughts on Goat Island, if I don’t get booed out of the travel community.

Goat Island is way over-rated and it’s becoming a hot touristy spot where the beach gets way overcrowded on a hot summer day. I honestly don’t get the hype about this place. The sand here is so hot to even stand on in summer, let alone sit/lie and chill. And every time we come here, we have trouble even finding a spot to set up our beach tent. I haven’t personally swum far enough to see the Marine Reserve yet (it’s on my bucket list this summer). However, I went for a swim with my goggle and the water was so murky and dirty that I couldn’t get out quick enough.

Anyway, that was just my bad experience at Goat Island, as you can see in our vlogs below. I’ll give it another go this summer and revise here if it changes my view on Goat Island and its Marine Reserve.

Pakiri Beach

This is a hidden little gem only 10 minutes away from Goat Island. If you want to get away from the crowd and enjoy your own piece of paradise, then drive through the gravel road to Pakiri Beach. This is our family’s favourite beach on the North Island of New Zealand.

At Pakiri Beach, you can find smooth golden sand, shallow and warm lagoon pools during high tides, patrolled main beach and beautiful landscape with native shorebirds like Oyster Catchers and NZ Dotterel.

© Photos by Kida

Goat Island (00:00:24) & Pakiri Beach (00:01:07)

There is a holiday park right on the beach, so book yourself a night here if you’re planning to go further up north!

Wrapping Up

There you have it, the best stopovers, attractions and things to do on the Matakana Coast with kids.

We’ve been to the Matakana Coast many times. Sometimes, we do a day trip from Auckland and wander around the Matakana Farmers Market, indulge in the oysters and let the kids have some fun at Matakana Country Park. Other times, we skip Matakana and go straight to the Reserves, Bays and Beaches all the way to our favourite Pakiri Beach. Below is a vlog from one of our day trips from Auckland.

POI featured: Matakana Oysters, Goat Island, Leigh Takeaways, Pakiri & Omaha

Road Trips from Auckland: North

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In the meantime…

Do you plan to do a day trip from Auckland or a multi-day road trip up north? Let us know in the comments below and share your travel stories with us!

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