The village of Matakana is the heart of the region. The roundabout in the middle of town points visitors to quiet beaches, regional parks, wineries and coastal walks, but the town itself is also a destination. On arrival, visitors to Matakana should take off their shoes, bury their toes in the earth and give thanks to the region’s bounteous riches. From the lush kauri that attracted settlers in the mid-1800s, to the orchards planted when the timber ran out, and the clay that led to the establishment of one of the country’s favourite ceramics companies, Matakana soil provides the region with a rich economic base. Evidence can be seen every weekend at the famous Matakana Village Farmers’ Market (see Hit the markets page 10). The village is full of Aucklanders escaping the city for the day and foodies stocking up on local produce. The line for the single ATM rivals the queue for coffee but that doesn’t matter. There is no sense of urgency here.
Among those who appreciate a good statue, the King George V War Memorial in Matakana is famous. Erected in 1919 to commemorate local servicemen who died, it was completed by New Zealand sculptor W.H. Feldon. Sadly, not everyone appreciates the Oamaru-stone structure and good King George’s head has disappeared several times.