Matakana is only an hour drive from Auckland City but it feels miles away. A day in Matakana wine country is the perfect city escape.
Traditionally a red wine growing region, classic red varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinotage, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese can be enjoyed from here.
I suggest heading up on a Saturday morning when the Matakana Farmers’ Market is on. And I mean early, not 10am, more like being there at 8 or 9am. It gets really busy, especially in summer and there is so much to do in the region that you need a bit of a head start.
The market has a great selection of local artisan products, great coffee and live music, all beautifully set on a market square in the heart of Matakana village. Go next door to the creamery and have a look at the vintage stalls as well, it’s worth it.
Once you’re fueled for the day, head to to Brick Bay which is about a 10 min drive back towards Warkworth, for a wander through their sculpture trail and a sip of their vino. They open at 10am.
For lunch, I recommend venturing to Runner Duck Estate and Plume Restaurant. You’ll be greeted with 180-degree views of vineyards, fields, valleys and mountains, an excellent lunch menu (11am-3pm) and friendly service.
I’m sure you’re ready for a rest and a lie down after that. Tawharanui is one of my favourite beaches in New Zealand, not only because I got engaged there, it’s a real hidden gem! This slice of paradise is only a 20 min drive from the restaurant through the beautiful Tawharanui regional park. Please note that you can’t tale your pets along and the road is partly gravel and very narrow, I wouldn’t take the bus either. But it’s definitely worth the drive!
On the way back you should stop by at Omaha Bay Vineyard or OBV, owned by a fourth generation wine growing family producing Pinot Gris, Syrah, Bordeaux Reds and Montepulciano. They’re open until 4pm.
I suggest driving up to Leigh Sawmill after that for a pizza from their wood-fired oven and a pint of their delicious beers.
It’s a no brainer but I should mention it, make sure you nominate a driver!