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The beautiful Mahurangi River sets the scene at Warkworth, one of the last busy stops before reaching the Auckland-Northland border. Warkworth is the gateway to the beautiful Matakana Coast, with Goat Island, Tāwharanui and Matakana all a quick drive away.
This pretty little town has a quirky collection of cafés and shops, many scattered around the river’s edge. Bargain hunters, prepare your dollars for some excellent op-shopping in town. Hungry? Tuck into a feed while revisiting the glory days of Warkworth Hotel, an elegantly restored institution that has wined, dined and lodged locals for more than 150 years.
For something more casual, enjoy some fish and chips on the riverbank with free entertainment – friendly ducks and gulls. It’s easy to find a scenic spot by following the kōwhai-lined walkway along the river from the bridge to Lucy Moore Park.
Back in its heyday, this riverside was a bustling port used by steamers, yachts and scows heading to and from Auckland. Step back in time on a cruise aboard Jane Gifford, a restored scow once used to cart goods, minerals and stock around the Auckland and Coromandel regions.
Explore the ruins of Wilson Cement Works, a picturesque piece of history along the river that has slowly been taken over by nature. The quarry-turned-lake is now a popular spot to enjoy a freshwater dip.
For more nature, walk beneath towering native trees at Parry Kauri Park and pop into Warkworth Museum. Weave through quiet bush on a boardwalk that leads to a lookout and kauri grove. Prepare to be amazed – two kauri trees are more than 800 years old.
From Warkworth you can discover the scenic countryside on a horse trek or take a vino-filled tour of the wineries dotted around Matakana. Don’t miss the incredible regional parks in the area, including Tāwharanui and Mahurangi.
Surfers and swimmers can enjoy clean, turquoise waters at Tāwharanui, an open predator-free sanctuary with walks and sandy beaches aplenty. Further north, explore the colourful depths of the marine reserve at Te Hāwere-a-Maki (Goat Island) – a must-do for snorkellers and divers.
Location Te wāhi
WarkworthPlan your route
Getting there Te huarahi ki reira
Warkworth is 45-55 minutes by car from Auckland, and 8-10 minutes to Matakana.
Local tip He tīwhiri mō te rohe
Pack a picnic, water toys and a Frisbee for a day at the quarry lake at Wilson Cement Works. Be sure to bring floaties for the little ones – this popular swimming spot is deep.