James Williams takes a drive to an Auckland farmer’s market – the legendary Matakana, with fresh local oysters, a sustainable farmer’s market and great dining experiences.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I was told we were going to Matakana’s famous farmer’s market, a quaint little village on Auckland’s rural outskirts – but it turned out to be a foodies’ paradise.
Nestled in the heart of Auckland’s wine country, Matakana was relaunched several years ago by a local investor Richard Didsbury and with leading NZ architect Noel Lane he’s created a masterpiece of integrated cultural tourism. He established a cinema and modern shopping around a square where the markets are held, creating a community hub and attracting lots of local business people to the town.
The town is beautifully crafted and environmentally friendly – as you stroll through the town you’ll also discover trickling fountains and wrought-iron artworks. Even the public restrooms are a work of art and given pride of place at the turnoff to Matakana at the top of the main street.
MATAKANA VILLAGE MARKET
The market opens at 8 am sharp and runs until 1 pm every Saturday, offering fresh, sustainable and local artisan goods. You can sample award-winning coffee, tasty brunch offerings and lots of samples along the way. Kids can explore a rustic treehouse and natural playground while the parents relax by the riverside with live music. Matakana is decidedly zero waste, so you’ll need to bring your own shopping backs to stock up on fresh produce, flowers, bread, treats from the deli and sweets, which would be perfect to take into the local wine country for a picnic.
Once you’ve finished stocking up on your provisions, take a gentle stroll down by the river or stop for refreshments and food at one of the many restaurants.
MATAKANA COFFEE ROASTERS
The owners of Matakana Coffee Roasters migrated north to Matakana to be part of the growing community of sustainable producers in the region. Lindesay has been roasting coffee for more than 30 years and is hands-on in his businesses – with a focus on roasting each batch of coffee to that precise moment when the beans release their optimum flavour. You’ll find Lindesay, Angela and the rest of the Roastery team, adjacent to the Matakana Farmers’ Market where you can enjoy a selection of award-winning blends, single origin coffees, and Fairtrade Organic varietals.
You’ll find chocolatier Nico Bonnaud at Honest Chocolate, making small-batch chocolates that will be some of the best you’ve tasted. The secret is the sustainably sourced single-origin ingredients, with each batch containing no artificial flavour, preservatives or palm oil. The chocolates are beautifully boxed and ready for gift giving.
Matakana is a great location for picking up a perfect unique gift for a loved one. Whether you’re after homewares, furnishings, or a unique piece of art, there’s plenty to find at Matakana Village. and at Studio Matakana you’ll find body products, gifts for Babies & Toddlers, and Homewares.
When you’re all shopped out – head up to the Cinema complex and through to The Vintry, Matakana’s wine bar – where you can drop in for a locally grown wine from regional growers, all located within 14 kilometres from the Vintry’s doorstep. You can enjoy a wine tasting by the glass or and maybe even take your own taste of Matakana home with you from our cellar door wine list.
If you’ve still got some time left, grab some jaffas or some popcorn and catch a movie at the local cinema – which plays all the latest films. Even if you don’t catch a film you should pop in to check out the ‘long white cloud’ light artwork suspended from the foyer’s ceiling.
For a unique dining experience or a quick takeaway, you can enjoy the Tramcar outside the cinema. Featuring house-made burgers, fresh fish and chips (a Kiwi staple!) and a selection of small and side plates, you can finish it off with some Kapati ice cream and fruit yoghurt. Everything is free-range, locally source and the packaging for takeaways is compostable.
Matakana is a historical village in the heart of Auckland’s wine country. It’s about an hour north of Auckland by car, but worth every minute of the journey. To cut 10 minutes off the journey take Highway 1 via the toll road and exit just before Puhoi. Turn right at Warkworth and follow the posted signs for 12km to Matakana Village. Click here for Google Maps driving directions.
WHERE TO STAY
For a truly luxurious stay in peaceful surroundings – try Takatu Vineyard and Lodge located just north of Matakana Village. Treat yourself to one of their luxury suites for super king-sized beds with 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, and romantic double-soak baths with essential oils and candles. Details www.takatulodge.co.nz