After a crazy awful summer in Wellington, we decided we needed to see a bit of summer, so decided on a revisit to one of our favourite parts of New Zealand. 23 years ago, when our kids were very young and Chris worked for the Dept of Conservation (DoC), we did a road trip around parts of Northland, staying in DoC accommodation for very cheap rates. One of our special finds was Matai Bay, on the Karikari peninsula. We decided we would head there again this month, and as we have a little more experience and $ under our belts (and the bed at the DoC house was one of the worst ever!) we stayed at the Carrington Resort, about 10 minutes down the road.
Our room was a lovely large corner room overlooking the golf course. From our observations, rooms 5 & 6 are probably the best located in terms of views, but it looked like all rooms were of a similar size and layout. The room was spacious and comfortable.
The dining room had fantastic views out over the golf course and beyond to the west – was lovely sitting at dinner and watching the sun set.
Dinners were delicious too! The menu is not extensive, but more than adequate. Each day there are 3 choices each of entrée (appetiser), main and dessert, plus a reasonable wine list. Prices range from $15 each for entrees and desserts to $40 for the main courses. You get complimentary bread, and a “chef’s inspiration” amuse bouche. We ended up eating here both nights, as we felt the value and quality were worth it.
Matai Bay itself was just as lovely as we remembered it, a peaceful calm horseshoe of fine sand, waves gently lapping.
At the beginning of March, when we went, it was very quiet – there were a few campers in the campsite and a number of families enjoying a weekend at the beach, but we had no issues with noise or rambunctious teens racing up and down the beach. The water is crystal clear – and not too deep that you can’t enjoy it with small children. There is no surf as such, just a gentle swell and small wavelets lapping at the sand.
As a water wimp, I was surprised that the temperature – although not tropical – was very pleasant and refreshing to swim in after laying in the sun.
Across a grassy walkway or via the boat ramp car park, we discovered another stunning beach – Waikato bay is probably longer and wider than Matai Bay, but just as stunning. Because of the ramp, its a bit busier when boats are being launched and retrieved, but the water and sand are lovely.