Road Trip Destinations: Pukekohe to Awhitu

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Sometimes one happens across a drive which can quite aptly be described as an utter delight. Such is the case with a jaunt from Pukekohe to the Awhitu Peninsula. Tucked away as part of the Manukau Heads close to the vast expanse of Manukau Harbour, Awhitu offers up some stunning views, charming little bays and some of the most delightful roads in the North Island. There is plenty to see on the way too, so here is how you can take your classic to Awhitu.

Beginning in Pukekohe, head west along Waiuku Road. Follow this to leave the town limits and past Puni and plenty of lush farmland. In case you hadn’t guessed it already, your first stop is the town of Waiuku. There are multiple ways you can reach Waiuku from your position, but following Waiuku Road till it becomes Morley and turning right onto Glenbrook-Waiuku Road is a good bet.

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Waiuku can trace its origins back to 1843 where it was a thriving trade route between Auckland and the Waikato. The name comes from a Maori legend of two brothers vying for the affection of a local Waikato Chieftainess. The town is steeped in history and offers plenty to see and do. It is recommended you stop for a wander if time allows. Also, a refreshing beverage at the Kentish Hotel is not something to be missed.

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Departing Waiuku, take Awhitu Road north west through suburbia. Shortly after this, the road starts to ascend. Here is where the trip really gets going as far as driving is concerned. The roads begin to get faster and snake their way through some truly epic rolling scenery.

To you left you are able to see the Tasman Sea, to your right, more lush farmland and rolling hills. While one would not recommend pushing hard here, it is best to just sit back and lap up the surroundings in your classic.

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It isn’t long before you arrive at the small community of Pollock where you must stop at Pollock Arts Co-op. Here you will find a selection of exquisitely presented work by local artists and craftsmen. Also feel free to have a walk through their sculpture garden where all works are for sale. Pollock Arts Co-op is open five days a week from Thursday to Monday so travelling on a Tuesday or Wednesday means you will probably have to miss out.

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From here a sharp left and you continue on towards Awhitu. This section of road becomes even more technical and windy, so be aware of oncoming traffic when undertaking a blind corner at speed. The views are also equally stunning, especially when you reach the top of the hill.

Before long you will arrive in the first community which makes up the greater Awhitu area, Matakawau. If you stop outside Matakawau War Memorial Community Centre opposite Awhitu School, you can head into Bhana’s Foodmarket for an Ice Cream or even a bottle of wine. Plus, if you happen to arrive on Monday morning, Bhana’s will have some delicious donuts on offer. It pays to be quick as they are very popular with the locals and its very much a case of while stocks last.

Credit: Bhana’s Foodmarket

From here you can venture into several different points of interest around Awhitu. Head down Matakawau Road and you arrive at the Matakawau Reserve. Here you can park up and marvel at the views of Manukau Harbour and the surrounding bays. Also, the boat ramp is an ideal location for taking photos of your car.

Alternatively, head down Awhitu Road and turn right onto Brook Road. This will take you to the Awhitu Regional Park. Here you can park up and go for a wander down to Matakawau Beach and explore the surrounding walking trails.

On further up Awhitu Road, you will eventually arrive at Grahams Beach. This is another idyllic spot with sea views and places for a picnic. Or head west along Orua Bay Road to Wattle Bay. Here you get a great view of the Waitakere Ranges and you can saunter along the sand. Finally, you have the Manukau Heads Lighthouse which you can walk up while getting a stunning elevated view of the Waitakere Ranges and where they meet the Tasman Sea.

There are countless other bays and places of interest around this area so feel free to get out and explore. Of course, the ultimate companion is a classic car. Whether in an Impala or MGB, the jaunt to Awhitu and the Manukau Heads is a timeless classic car excursion and one of the greater Auckland area’s best kept secrets.

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