February 14, 2015 | talktraveltome | Leave a comment To play on a lyric from one of our favorite disney movies… Hakuna-Matakana, what a wonderful place! It means no worries for the rest of your days… Ok we’ll stop now. When we arrived in New Zealand we spent our first week Wwoofing an hour north of Auckland, in the Matakana region. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Wwoofing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) it’s a program where in exchange for working on an organic farm for 4 to 6 hours a day you are provided with a free place to stay and delicious yummy food for all of your meals. Not a bad deal, right?! We were lucky enough to have been Wwoofing with two great people, Andrew and Maria. They are both extremely talented professional photographers who have an amazing property overlooking Omaha Bay. They let us stay in their private flat that was connected to their house and take full advantage of their property including: picking vegetables from their gardens, taking their kayaks for a spin on the bay, borrowing their snorkeling gear, and more! Not to mention they gave us tons of great advice on local places to visit while we were staying with them. Like we said, great people! Since we received the local scoop, we wanted to share with you some of the best things to do and see while visiting the Matakana region. Snorkeling at Goat Island Probably one of the most well known things to do in the region, Goat Island is a fantastic marine reserve where you’ll be sure to see a ton of underwater seafriends :-). When you go, be sure to bring an underwater camera to snap some photos of your new found friends. We were happy to have our GoPro with us, especially since some of the fish weren’t afraid to get up-close and personal. Some quick tips: Make sure to go when it’s a sunny day and at high tide. This is when there’s the best visibility and most fish around the island. Also, on the way out, be sure to stop by The Leigh Sawmill Cafe. It’s a great little pub/microbrewery that has live music. Matakana Famers Market If you’re in the area on a Saturday morning this is an absolute must do! The Matakana Farmers Market is the perfect way to get a taste of all the local produce, foods, crafts and music. While we were there we devoured a delicious crepe and picked up some locally made peanut butter. We would have loved to have tried everything but we’re on a budget and unfortunately had to limit ourselves… bummer. Quick Tip: Be sure to get there early before everyone else scoops up the best stuff! Also, if you have time, right next to the farmers market is a local cinema. Unfortunately, we never got a chance to go in but we’re told that each room is incredibly decorated and worth a stop. Ti Point For those looking for a more private and off the tourist trail type experience, Ti Point in the place to go. It’s an hour walk along the water with several great places to stop for a secluded swim and/or snorkel. After-all, who doesn’t love a private beach?? Wine Tours The Matakana region is well known for having great wines and lots of wineries in a small area. This means tons of wine tastings and little driving. That’s what we call a win-win! After a few hard days work, moving mulch and gravel up and down hills, we hit up several of the local wineries and tasted more than our fair share. We definitely suggest visiting the Omaha Bay Vineyard (OBV). Not only did they have some of our favorite wines, but they have incredible views of the area. Both of which go great with the cheese platter :-)! Tawharanui Regional Park Another great tip we got from Andrew and Maria was to take an afternoon trip to Tawharanui. Depending on how much time you have there are few walks you can do. We went with the Ecology Trail which takes you along the coast as well as into the native forest. While on our walk we also saw some interesting birds, including the Takahē, which was once thought to have been extinct. Also, it kinda looks like a a combination of an oversized parrot and chicken. Quick Tip: Don’t forget to pack a lunch and bring a bathing suit! It’s a great place to sit and have a quick picnic and do some body surfing. Being so close to Auckland, Matakana is the perfect place for a long weekend getaway. Also, be sure to stop at Charlie’s Gelato Garden at some point during your visit. It’s some of the best Gelato you can find outside of Italy. So remember… Hakuna-Matakana, what a wonderful place!