Situated just an hour’s drive from
Auckland, Warkworth is the complete opposite in terms of character and pace. It is the first step in accessing the local Coast & Wine Country including: vineyards, local markets, iconic beaches and islands, marine reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, all within a short distance of the Warkworth Township. Much of the formerly agricultural land in Matakana Valley has been converted into vineyards, several of which are open for meals, wine tasting and cellar door sales.
Matakana is a short drive from Warkworth and is the heart of the area’s wine growing district. It is one of the area’s fastest growing villages with a shopping centre containing restaurants, bars, specialty shops and a boutique cinema. Saturday morning visitors flock to Matakana's local Farmers Market which showcases local produce such as vegetables, cheese, olive oil, fruit, preserves, bread and pastries, seafood, blueberry ice creams, coffee and live music.
Just past Matakana is the turnoff to Omaha, Point Wells and the
Park . The final few winding kilometres to Tawharanui are not tar sealed and have some one-way sections, however the drive there is well worth the effort with spectacular beaches, walking and biking trails, camp sites all on the secluded peninsula and just a 25 minute drive from Warkworth. The new pest proof fence cuts the across the peninsula to keep introduced pests out which has allowed the regeneration of native plants and the reintroduction of rare native birds, including mature Kiwi.
Leigh is an outlying village being a 30 minute drive from Warkworth, however it is one of the area’s most beautiful spots. Walk the deserted beaches, enjoy the spectacular views, take a bush walk or just enjoy the relaxation, peace and quiet of this little coastal community. The village is built around the Leigh Harbour, home to a fleet of recreational and commercial fishing boats. Leigh provides easy access to beautiful diving and fishing spots including Goat Island, Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands. Walkways extend east and west along the coast and through the native bush.
Five minutes from Leigh is New Zealand´s first and most amazing marine reserve that was established in 1975.
Goat Island gets its name from the off lying island only 130m from the shore. Snorkellers and scuba divers can swim to the island and explore the island and the rocky, kelp-covered reefs. The water is clearer and warmer in late summer when the fish move in close to the shore. Standing in knee deep water or on the rocky platform to the east of the beach, visitors can see schools of blue maomao, parore and snapper.
Pakiri is 12 kilometres to the north from Leigh. The beach has long been known as a desirable surf destination where the white sands extend for 14 kilometres northwards. Other activities such as horse riding, fishing, walking and bird watching are also very popular when visiting Pakiri.
A 10 minute drive from Warkworth is
Bay which both over look Kawau Bay. Holiday homes once dominated
Bay, but now these are predominantly residential areas with a greater combined population than Warkworth itself.
Kawau island can only be accessed by boat. The island was originally used to mine copper and manganese and the remains of the mines existence still stands and can be explored across the island. KawauIsland was home to
New Zealand ’s first Governor, Sir George Grey, who turned the 10-room mine manager’s house into his beautiful two-story home which became known as the Mansion House. Today, the house is administered by the Department of Conservation and is open to the public. It is still home to many of the former Governor’s treasures.
To the west of Warkworth lies the settlement of Kaipara Flats. Predominantly sheep and cattle country, the area has become popular with lifestyle farmers who often combine working in the city with a variety of agricultural activities. This proliferation of small block owners has breathed new life into the community. There is a tiny airfield on Kaipara Flats Road, home to the Rodney Aero Club, which offers lessons and scenic flights. Towards Tauhoa, kayakers can explore the Hoteo River which extends out into the Kaipara Harbour, the largest inland waterway in the southern hemisphere.
Warkworth, Queen Street