Ascension Wine Estate, Matakana © davidwallphoto.com

Matakana Coast: markets, beaches and vineyards


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Matakana has gone crazy in the last decade or so: leaps and bounds barely describes it.

Already spoiled with a million great activities and natural attractions and close enough to Auckland that it’s a great day trip, latterly so much has sprung up here you start wondering what they put in the water. Wine, you might think, driving around.

Yep, a bunch of vineyards have truly taken hold here in the last ten to 15 years. While a few brave viticultural souls were already established when the millennium turned over, it’s Wine Central up this way now. There is a heap of great places that offer a taste and a tasty treat, fab food, good views and a delightful environment to put your loafers up in.

Likely they’ll serve local produce, too: the whole area is throbbing with honey producers (over and above the bees themselves, clearly), cheese-makers, folk who make killer jams and preserves, and that’s before we take a sunny stroll through the olive groves.

All of these goodies and more are available at one of the country’s best farmers’ markets; totally worth checking out, even if it’s just to see the Aucklanders trying to wedge their SUVs into too small a parking space. You’re not going to get in there, Maaaartiiiiiinnnnnnnnnn!!

Need a bit more action? Goat Island at Leigh is legendary for snorkelling, a protectorate of all things pure and natural – birdlife, fish life, wildlife – and for nightlife the nearby Leigh Sawmill hosts bands and brews its own beers as well. Pakiri is a beautiful, wild beach, a stretch of coastline that encompasses dunes, woodland and endless surf.

It’s all good, it’s all close to the big smoke, but it feels a million miles away. Wake up and smell the (artisanal) coffee.

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