With crystal-clear water and golden sands, the bay is a popular surfing venue in an easterly swell. At other times it's a peaceful beach for swimming and snorkelling. From the ridge above the bay, there are panoramic views over the headland and out to the Cavalli Islands.
These islands are a favourite spot for divers, being home to a unique collection of marine life, as well as the remains of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior. It was sunk by the French intelligence service in 1985 in the wake of anti-nuclear protests.
An unforgettable highlight of Matauri Bay is Mataatua II, a Maori war waka (canoe) built to commemorate the great Pacific migration that brought the Maori people to New Zealand around 700 years ago.
Visit nearby towns of Kerikeri and Paihia for their spectacular array of coastal activities and delicious fare. Both towns have plenty of good accommodation options.