Road Trip: From Auckland to Matakana

Road trip from Auckland!
This article describes some highlights just north of Auckland, easily done in a day or longer if your itinerary permits

Auckland is the gateway for many visitors into New Zealand.  Budget Rent a Car is located inside the terminal building and with an onsite car park for vehicle collection and return.  Additionally we have branches spread throughout Auckland City – located in Downtown, Penrose, Highbrook and North Shore.

Auckland is a vibrant and diverse city with much to see and do.  Within an hour’s drive from the city centre, you can feel half a world away.  Having your own vehicle provides flexibility to see the sights at your own pace with the freedom to take detours, or when beautiful scenery encourages a 'photo stop'.

One of our favourite day trips is to head North from the city, to the areas of Puhoi, Warkworth, Matakana, Leigh and Snells Beach.

From the city head North across the Harbour Bridge, taking in the views.  To your left are the Waitakere Ranges.  To your right, look beyond the suburb of Devonport to Rangitoto Island – a volcanic landmark of the city
State Highway One will take you through the North Shore, and is an easy drive on a multilane highway. 

After approximately 30 kilometres there is the choice to continue on the Toll Road (charges apply, payable direct to NZ Transport Agency, see, or the alternative to bypass the Toll Road will take you through the coastal area of Orewa and Waiwera.  Here you will find Waiwera Thermal Resort and Spa, which offers a discounted entry when using The Budget Book of Deals.  The free route adds about 5 kilometres to your journey but offers some picturesque vantage points.  The Toll Road and alternative free route meet again just South of Puhoi. 

The historic small town of Puhoi is worth visiting.  The pub is filled with memorabilia and knick knacks, and the outdoor tables are often bathed in sunshine.  A few kilometres further is the Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store (275 Ahuroa Road, Puhoi). 

Continuing on State Highway One, you will find the Honey Centre to your left (7 Perry Road, Warkworth).  The shop provides free tastings and sell many varieties and flavours of honey.  They also stock beauty products, including those with royal jelly.  Make sure to venture to the back wall of the shop where you can see inside a hive and watch the bees at work, and try to spot the Queen Bee. 

Arriving in Warkworth, pay particular attention to navigating the intersection.  Following the signs: to reach Matakana you will first turn right towards Sandspit, and then very soon a turn left onto Matakana Road.
The township of Matakana becomes a bustling hub on Saturday mornings at the Farmers Market.  If your itinerary permits, this is the ideal time to visit the town. 

Continuing past Matakana you will find Morris and James Pottery down a street to your right (48 Tongue Farm Road).  The showroom displays a range of handcrafted items including pots, tiles, gifts and homeware.
Omaha Beach has become a popular area over recent years and this has seen much property development along the coast.  The beach is beautiful for a stroll, with fine pale coloured sand.  If the waves tempt you for a swim, do swim between the flags.

Further up the coast near Leigh is an area known as Goat Island.  This area is a marine reserve, and from the rocky point it is possible to see the fish.  If time and weather permit, try snorkelling from the beach or a trip on the glass bottom boat.

Heading back towards Warkworth, try Charlies Gelato Garden (17 Sharp Road) for home made artisan gelato and sorbet.  We’ve heard about the new wood fired oven, and are keen to try the pizza!
Continuing up Sharp Road will take you towards Snells Beach.  Just before you enter the township area is the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail.  The Glass House at the Brick Bay vineyard is the starting point of a two kilometre trail through the unique outdoor gallery. 

The area offers a range of accommodation choices to consider if you plan to travel further North.  It is also within easy range to return back to Auckland for the evening, at around 64 kilometres from Warkworth to the city centre.