A little out of the way – A lot out of the ordinary! I think I may have just found where our next home is going to be.
A few years ago there was a campaign ‘Don’t leave home till you’ve seen the country’. At the time I thought I had seen a reasonable amount of the country but as we recently discovered there is often a lot more to a place than a one day visit highlights.
We had decided that a short break was in order – to recharge the batteries so to speak. We had been talking to Mike McGarry of the Mangawhai Business Development Association who got us interested in visiting the district for more than a day by telling us ‘To see the magnificence of Mangawhai you have to be here.’
After a bit of investigation we decided that Mangawhai fitted the bill perfectly for our short break. We have visited this small coastal town on several occasions over the years for day trips but had never stayed long enough for a good look around the area. We were about to change that.
One of the things that make this a great place is that it is a little way off the main road. Just over an hour drive north of Auckland with a beach, estuary, a golf course, vineyards, several cafés, gallery, outdoor activities and more, it was an easy destination choice and a chance to find out more about this delightful seaside area. That it is a bit warmer than Auckland.
Mangawhai is made up of two parts, Mangawhai Village and Mangawhai Heads. A causeway was built across the inner reaches of the estuary about 40 years ago, which brought the two places much closer together. What had been a 40-minute drive was cut down to 5 minutes.
There is a wide variety of accommodation to choose from so it is easy to find something to suit, from apartments to backpackers, b & b’s, cottages, farmstays, holiday homes, motels and lodges. And like all good Kiwi seaside communities there is camping ground accommodation – three in fact.
We discovered that there were so many activities that we had to do a bit of planning as there was no chance of us fitting everything in.
Saturdays are a great day to be in Mangawhai. Farmers Markets are becoming more and more popular as a place to get fresh good quality produce and artisan foods. Mangawhai Saturday Morning Market is no exception with organic, locally sourced food and produce. Open from 9am – 1pm every Saturday this small market is growing in popularity as it becomes more well known.
After stocking up on a few things I couldn’t resist it was time to move on to the next treat. Bennetts Chocolaterie! Who can resist a delicious melt in the mouth chocolate? You can spend time watching the chocolates being made and then take a leisurely look around the large shop – full of handmade chocolate creations. There are small bite size chocolates that you buy individually in just about every flavour imaginable or be a bit more adventurous and get a chocolate pipi or scallop full of smaller chocolates in shapes inspired by the sea.
Lunchtime – choosing where to have that took a bit of time as there are several cafes with different food styles and each had a tasty menu, or you can go to the local deli and get all that you will need to create your own picnic. If we had been staying longer we would have been going somewhere different each day.
After a relaxed lunch it was a drive to try out the local vineyards. There are 3 delightful boutique vineyards that sit in the foothills of the Brynderwyns. They all have cellar door sales so between the markets and the vineyards it is not hard to finish your stay with a full car.
Golf was on the agenda of course. The Mangawhai Golf Club is set between the village and the Heads. This is a club that is doing well when others have been struggling. Their membership is growing with over 100 new members in the last two years and it is a course that is popular with people throughout the country.
The club has realised that the needs of the modern golfer today are different to those of golfers in days gone by and they are constantly striving to stay connected with and address the needs of all golfers whether they be a member or visitor. The board has a plan for growing the club and catering to golfers different needs and it is working.
Written for NZ Golf Magazine