Wet weather activities for families
CINEMA CRAFT NATURE
The first stop after checking in with the local experts at the Matakana Coast Information Centre desk would definitely be the film schedule at Matakana Cinemas. You’ll always find a fun family favourite on at around 10am. If breakfast or brunch are more tempting the kids can take a short walk along the river’s edge to see the huge eels or spot the goldfish dotted around the Matakana Village shops.
Morris and James Pottery run free tours of the pottery factory every weekday at 11.30am. The artists will show you the various stages of creating a pot, from harvesting local clay, to throwing, drying, firing and glazing. The gift shop holds a kaleidoscopic display of pots, art pieces and iconic collections in every colour, shape and size imaginable. There is a small playground for younger children and it’s all walkable from Matakana Village.
On the way to Tāwharanui regional park, stop in at the Matakana Country Park for refreshments from Bramble cafe or Smiths bar. You can also check in on the cheeky goats, rabbits and chickens housed near the massive playground. You’ll be surprised at how much rain cover the native forests at Tāwharanui regional park can provide.
CHOCOLATE ANIMALS ART
If you start your rainy day adventuring in Warkworth, you must visit Chocolate Brown, open every day for the best fluffies in the region, home-style baking and a viewing window to keep an eye on the chocolatiers and sample special treats. Head back onto the highway north to Sheep World for an indoor dog and sheep show at 11am and 2pm. There’s an ecology trail, cafe, picnic area and a large farm park to explore full of pigs, goats, donkeys, alpaca, emu, deer and lots of sheep!
You could drive back into Warkworth for a meal at the beautifully decorated Warkworth Hotel or take Sandspit road to the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail on the way to Snells Beach. The all weather walking trail leads you through native bush, a lily pond and enormous sculptures that will delight children and adults. The stunning Glass House Restaurant is open every day and diners get a discount on the sculpture trail ticket. Keep an eye out for the umbrellas to borrow at the door. There is a yummy children’s menu and colouring-in activities as well as high chairs and baby-changing facilities. In Algies Bay you’ll find the friendliest donkeys waiting to meet you, you won’t have to walk far to reach the Highfield Reserve from the carpark.
CREATURES BIG AND SMALL
Fill up your lunch box in Matakana at the Farmers Market, Plume Cafe or the Four Square and head to Ti Point Reptile Park. Hundreds of lizards, geckos, turtles, spiders and creepy crawlies are on display at this reptile zoo, surrounded by a large tropical garden with picnic benches and amazing views over the ocean. The lovely little fishing village of Leigh, has a general store and fish and chip shop. At Goat Island, inside the special marine reserve you will find the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre. This is a brilliant small marine environment museum with microscopes and a salt water touch tank. The centre is quiet and calm and has a great viewing point over the water to Goat Island. If the kids are ready to be wowed, take them to Sculptureum. There are lots of dining options here on this large sculpture park and vineyard with a kids menu and indoor and outdoor gardens and galleries. Expect to be surprised by giant sized animals everywhere, in every colour, some are even real and can talk!
GET SPORTY AND CURIOUS
Today would be the perfect day to collect a delicious family picnic basket from Village Picnic in Warkworth. The kete will include everything you need for a gourmet, local, eco-friendly food adventure! Or book a mystery picnic – all the planning is done and you get to enjoy a day trip with a difference, solving clues along the way, rain, hail or shine.
Just south of Warkworth at The Range, families can burn off some energy under cover at the golf driving and rifle shooting range seven days a week. There’s plenty of sports to try; baseball, softball and cricket along with a mini golf course. Nearby in the beautiful Parry Kauri Park sits the Warkworth & Districts Museum which is jam packed with hands-on experiences for kids and adults. There is an amazing boardwalk through native forest to discover our oldest kauri.
After all this wet weather exploring, don’t forget to stop in at Charlies Gelato Garden. Even if it’s raining a handmade award-winning ice-cream would be the best way to end a full-on day of wet weather adventuring.
With more regional parks than you can poke a stick at, every trip to this coast will offer a uniquely different experience – from forest to sea and the wildlife in between! Stick your head under With countless beaches along this coast, and New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve at Goat Island, there are plenty of opportunities to have a refreshing dip in the ocean.
For every experience of nature there’s an inspiring experience of art and culture along this journey, including art galleries and a number of sculpture parks.
Sample local delicacies
Earn a treat with a walk or swim first, then visit a local cafe, a farmers market or sample our local cheese, chocolate, ice cream, olive oil, honey and more.
Quality local produce and passionate hospitality means great local food. Check out the numerous and varied cafes, delis, eateries, artisan producers and of course the farmer’s markets scattered around the region.
Wineries and breweries
The local micro-climate and artisan culture produces impressive wines. Be sure to visit cellar doors on your way and don’t miss sampling the local craft beers and cider either. Most Matakana wineries are family-owned and welcome visitors to the cellar door (some by appointment only), where you can experience the philosophy of the winery and meet the winemakers who bring such passion, curiosity and dedication to their terroir. Take a look at the Matakana Wine Trail Map and take a self drive tour. Learn more about the Matakana Winegrowers Association.