Road trips: Wellsford to Auckland

Where time permits in this region, take every opportunity to head down a side road for a closer look at the many hip little seaside villages, glorious white sandy beaches, roadside stalls, and award-winning vineyards.

Things to see and do

Mangawhai Heads: a subtropical paradise with a white sandy beach popular with surfers, sand dunes, and a wildlife sanctuary. Leigh: a quaint fishing cove and township, 13 kilometres north of Matakana, Leigh is famous for its Sawmill Café & Bar and the nearby Goat Island Marine Reserve. Leigh Sawmill Café & Bar: this old sawmill now brews its own beer and is famous for fresh fish dishes and gourmet wood-fired pizzas. It’s also hosts live music most weekends. Leigh Marine Reserve: Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, around Goat Island, is open all year round and is known for its snorkelling. Hire your gear or bring your own. Matakana’s Reptile Park is on Ti Point Road. Open daily 10-5pm. Brick Bay Sculpture Trail: featuring 45 contemporary New Zealand sculptors, the adjoining winery and café is cantilevered over the lake. Arabella Lane, Snell’s Beach.

Places to eat and drink

Artisans’ food market Matakana Village: visit for fresh home-grown seasonal vegetables and fruit, homemade gourmet food products, with live music and lots of atmosphere. Matakana Indie Market: vintage Up-cycled, indie, re-purposed, retro – with scrumptious food, artisan coffee, and talented buskers. High season only. Sunday, 9am-2.30pm, Market Square, Matakana Village. Matakana Country Park Market offers crafts, fresh vegetables and fruit, and prepared foods, as well as plants, clothing, animals to feed, pony rides, a miniature train ride, and large playground. Saturday 9am-1pm, Country Park’s big red barns on Leigh Rd, 2km north of Matakana. Matakana Market: bric-a-brac, clothing, arts and crafts, jewellery, and food on offer every Saturday, 8am-2pm, at the Old Dairy Factory, Matakana Village. Puhoi Market: a historic village featuring local seasonal produce, homemade food, meats, bread, sweets and ice creams, crafts and plants, with a play area for the children and live music. Last Sunday of every month, 8.30am-12.30pm. Puhoi Domain. Warkworth Craft and Produce Market: second Sunday of each month – 9am-1pm, Wharf Street, by the riverside. Roadtrip _article _tile
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