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A long, flat island mostly covered with pine forest, Matakana has one of New Zealand's best beach breaks for surfing. A powerful north-easterly swell on a high tide produces great sand barrels. Matakana's surf side is a nesting site for a large number of sea birds, including the endangered New Zealand dotterel.
To get to Matakana Island to surf, you will need your own boat or find someone in a boat to take you. It is illegal and dangerous to swim across the shipping channel from Mount Maunganui.
It's possible to visit the inner harbour side of Matakana island on a guided tour, which involves a ferry trip and a journey across tidal sand flats on a restored 1914 wagon drawn by Clydesdale horses. The trip includes historic sites and a barbecue lunch.