Time to head out of town.
Just an hour north of downtown Auckland via the Northern Motorway is the village of Matakana, our hopping-off point to visit, by bike, some of the 19 wineries that comprise the Matakana Wine Trail.
Parking in Matakana, we unload our bikes before checking in at the tourist information office in the Matakana Cinema to pick up a map of the wine region. Busy with tourist traffic, the roads are twisty and narrow, without a ride-able shoulder and just a little scary on a bike. Fortunately, the distances are short. Within ten kilometers of Matakana, one can reach all the wineries. The scenery is so pastoral that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are only an hour out of Auckland.
Our first and only stop of the day is the Brick Bay Winery and Sculpture Trail. We had hoped to visit other wineries, but with so much to do and see here, the afternoon is over far too soon. Situated just off Sharp Road, overlooking Kawau Bay, the Brick Bay Winery offers a relaxing setting to unwind after a hot, hilly ride. The Glass House Kitchen restaurant serves up refreshing meals made from local ingredients, to be enjoyed with a tasting of the Brick Bay wines.
The most unique aspect of the winery is the sculpture trail that twists and turns for two kilometers amid the lakes, swamp, vineyard, pastureland and native forest that comprises this unique winery. Shaded from the midday heat by the dense native forests, we wander along the boardwalks and gravel paths, enjoying fifty sculptures from New Zealand artists. A trail map offers an explanation of each piece (including the price, should one be tempted to buy something) and a listing of the unique flora and fauna along the path. Sometimes, the art is in the eyes of the beholder. I’m just saying.
Save some time at the end of the day for wandering around Matakana and perhaps enjoy some dinner there before heading back to Auckland.
Admire the 1914 St. Leonard’s Anglican Church.
Or the Matakana River that flows through the village out to the ocean.
Perhaps buy some local honey.
Contemplate the meaning of the major art piece that sits at the roundabout when entering Matakana. I’ll let you think about it for a while and report tomorrow, its significance.
On the journey home, allow some time for two detours.
Check out the historic town of Warkworth just 10 kilometers south of Matakana. Visit the harbor to see historic boats which plied the Mahurangie River in the 1880’s.
Fifteen kilometers further south, along the Northern Motorway, take a one kilometer detour to the Bohemian town of Puhoi. I thought Bohemian like this….
But, in this case, Bohemian doesn’t refer to “a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices” but a person from Bohemia, a region of what is now the Czech Republic. The town of Puhoi was settled by Bohemians in 1863 and the town still exhibits the flavor of its heritage.
Check back tomorrow to find out the true meaning of the Matakana’s famous public art.