Sometimes I just want to get out of Auckland. That’s not saying I don’t love the city I live in; it’s more that ‘getting out’ of the city from time to time does wonders for one’s head. Yesterday I left the madness behind and headed towards the North East coast, just an hour form Central Auckland. From the moment I hit the toll-road and tunnel near Puhoi, I had achieved the first part of my ‘mental health escape plan.’
I met my friend Nicky at Warkworth, a trendy little town about 10 minutes north of the motorway junction. We stopped for our first coffee at the famous pottery at Matakana, a quaint little village, well loved by fellow ‘escapees’ for its farmers market. ‘Morris and James’ have been going since 1977 and uses local clays to manufacture high quality tiles, pots and many other colourful products. They are expensive, but the quality is supreme and the fact that they have survived in the new age of cheap Chinese imports says something about their product. The café is rustic and restful. Nicky and I shared a huge ‘melting- moment’ and we didn’t finish it. The coffee was OK.
Next we travelled through the vine-filled countryside. It has a distinct ‘Mediterranean’ feel; with neat rows of grape vines and expensive looking wineries. I know that the wine is good, but it is not cheap compared to other areas of New Zealand. However, the shear ambiance of the district probably sucks people into to paying the price. I stopped counting at well over ten as the wineries slipped into the background. It is obviously an up and coming area.
Onwards to Leigh, a delightful little village, that has a tiny ‘port’ for fishing and other vessels. We passed a cafe that we decided to have lunch in once we had been to the marine reserve at Goats Island. It was a Monday and people were obviously still ion holiday, judging by the almost full car park. The area is famed for the tame fish and huge shellfish and crustaceans. They seem to ‘know’ they are safe from the predations of a hungry public. We didn’t stop, but put a day long trip on our bucket list.
Back to the café at Leigh, just outside the northern entrance to the village. It has a lovely outside shaded area and the food was a good as the service. Once again, we decided to return, possibly to stay a night on the accommodation wing and sample the ‘entertainment’ featured on the noticeboard. You can’t miss this café---look at the picture!
After our lunch where we had talked at length about my upcoming surgery, and how I would cope in the future, we headed towards the lovely beach at Matheson’s Bay. The picture tells all. This is just so typical of the countless beaches; all well with an hour and a half’s driving from Auckland. There is never reason to think that you have to share a beach with thousands of others if you live anywhere in New Zealand. Day trips just give you a ‘lick’ of the main prize. North east of Auckland deserves a much longer stay.
We included a look at Omaha Beach before we headed back to Warkworth--- the beach of the rich and famous. It is an incredible stretch of beach. Forget the huge ‘beach houses’ and head for the white sands. No wonder the dolphins love to frolic there! You wouldn’t want to leave once you arrived. Luckily, Warkworth is not too far, for you shopping needs. If you know someone there (Omaha), smile at them hope they invite you to stay. Even our Prime Minister escapes there from time to time, not that I am saying that that is a ‘quality-approving-system.’ It’s just one of many fantastic NZ beaches.
WE ARE SO LUCKY IN NEW ZEALAND.