Wellsford, Te Hana & Te Arai

Visit Wellsford and Te Hana Te Ao Marama cultural village. Surf at Te Arai beach, mountain bike in Atiu Creek Regional Park or visit historic Port Albert

Te Hana is the northern gateway to the Matakana Coast and home to Auckland’s premier cultural experience, Te Hana Te Ao Marama Maori Cultural Centre. Step 300 years back in time with a memorable guided tour of this replica village and fortified pa. 

Across the road, visit The Arts Factory and stand in awe at the giant sculptures, carved from 25,000 to 40,000 year-old kauri logs salvaged from swamps around the upper North Island. Many of the carvings made here are now held in private and corporate collections around the world.

If you fancy a surf, head north east from Te Hana to magnificent Te Arai beach. With 10 kilometres of pristine white sands, it’s perfect for long leisurely walks and a popular spot for surf lessons. Intrepid teens love jumping into the lagoon (high tide only), while little ones love searching for shell treasures in the small cove to the south of the lagoon. The road is unsealed and facilities are limited, so bring your sun umbrella, water and a picnic. 

To the south of Te Arai, neighbouring Forestry beach offers more remote surfing, while behind the dunes you’ll find Tomarata Lakes recreational reserve, a good spot for swimming, a picnic or walking the dog on the sandy trails. 

Feeling hungry? Look out for the hangi cart on Te Hana’s main road for some authentic Kiwi kai. If you’re visiting on a Friday look out for the fortnightly night market where you can snap up fresh produce, local crafts and some delicious eats, with a laid back country vibe.

The night market alternates between Te Hana and Wellsford, a bustling Kiwi rural town five minutes further down State Highway 1. Stop for a coffee, browse the many vintage stores, or visit the Albertland Museum to discover the pioneering history of New Zealand’s third and last religious settlement at Port Albert, on the Oruawharo River. 

It’s a ten-minute drive to the site of the former settlement, where you can stop at the Port Albert General Store for good coffee, fish ’n’ chips and if you’re lucky, fresh flounder. Continue further west and you’ll find Atiu Creek Regional Park, a working farm with panoramic views over the Kaipara and plenty of walking and mountain biking trails. 

If you’re keen to stretch your legs, head south from Wellsford and follow the Dome Valley track from the tea rooms to the summit for views across the Mahurangi Peninsula and Taranga Island (the ‘Hen’ of the Hen and Chickens island group). Be sure to explore the stunning Waiwhiu kauri grove, with 20 mature kauri trees that managed to escape historic logging in the area. 

Further to the southwest, you’ll find rural peace and tranquility in Kaipara Flats. Go horse riding through bush and farmland, take a scenic flight, or hike to the summit of Mount Auckland for breathtaking views of the Kaipara Harbour. 

For sheer scale and awe, Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park (selected open days only) is not to be missed. Book tickets in advance, bring a sunhat, comfortable walking shoes and a windproof jacket – the sweeping coastal and rural views come with windy and often changeable weather. 

The Wellsford area has a range of accommodation from the simple campsites at Te Arai beach or Atiu Creek, to lake chalets, farm stays and luxury lodges. For a true rural retreat, base yourself in Wellsford, Te Hana or Kaipara Flats and take your time exploring the northern and western reaches of the Matakana Coast. 

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Wellsford, Te Hana and Te Arai