Road Trip Destinations: Auckland to Matakana

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By Ben Selby

One can always liken classic cars to fine food or a glass of the finest vintage. One sip or taste and then it becomes all you want to eat or drink. While we don’t condone the idea of binge eating or drinking whatsoever, we definitely encourage all classic car fans and those with a penchant for food and the grape to visit Matakana.

Regarded as a “foodie heaven” for those living in and visiting the upper North Island, it features a smorgasbord of picturesque vineyards, amazing views and of course, weekend farmers markets. With COVID levels beginning to drop around the country, the idea of a daily jaunt to Matakana in your classic car for some culinary consumption has never looked more appealing. Here is how you do it.

Starting from central Auckland, you join SH1 and head north out of the city. Once you leave city minutes you cross the toll road section of SH1 leaving Auckland.

There is a way around this. As you pass Snow Planet situated on your right side of SH1, you take the next motorway exit and head towards Orewa along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway.

The community of Orewa and Hatfields Beach is a relaxed one and very popular amongst beach goers. Plus, if it’s a hot day and your classic happens to be a convertible, then the icing is on the cake.

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway then rises, twists and turns past Waiwera and becomes the Te Aroha Bypass as you pass Wenderholm Regional Park. This section or road is a joy, just be aware of its popularity and the fact there may be times where you won’t be moving quickly. However, you won’t have to fork out dough for the Toll Road.

Re-joining SH1, you continue your trek north through Puhoi. Here you can park up and sample some cheese at Puhoi’s boutique café and cheese store, or have a hot brew at the Devonshire Team Rooms. The Puhoi Hotel is also the perfect place for an early lunch should you want it.

The next town you come to is one which is definitely fast becoming home to many in the greater Auckland area. Historic village Warkworth sits on the edge of Mahurangi River and is well on its way to becoming a large town in its own right. While you are here, it is worth checking out the museum for an insight of what it was like for the pioneers who built Warkworth.

Instead of following SH1 north, take Matakana Road when to reach central Warkworth. You are almost there. A short jaunt up this road and it isn’t long before Matakana Estate Winery appears on your right.

This is one of many wineries in the region and worth stopping by for a taste. A chardonnay or pinot gris could be your thing, or maybe you are more of a merlot of pinot noir person. Either way, its worth stopping by just for a sip or two.

Before you know it, you arrive in Matakana Village itself. The community vibe of this much-loved area is profound. A friendly face isn’t too hard to find.  It is recommended you visit Matakana on a weekend, then you can sample the famous Matakana Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

The market is awash with neat stalls selling a whole range of fresh produce, homemade spreads, organic foods, oils and cheeses. After a day in the market, the boot of your classic might be rather full.

When the time comes for a spot of lunch, Matakana has plenty of eateries. Also, if you have time, it is worth jumping in your classic and taking your lunch for a quick drive over to Omaha or Tawharanui Beach and have a picnic by the coast. The views are spectacular and with a warm spring or summer breeze blowing, it’s a very special place to be.

All this is only a 50-minute drive from Auckland. Whether you have an Austin Healey Sprite or Mk5 Ford Cortina, Makatana should be a classic car pilgrimage for the ages.

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