Matakana Island, Tauranga Overview

Located in the western Bay of Plenty in the North Island, Matakana Island, also known as the Jewel of the Bay, is a flat, long barrier island that stretches for as much as 20 kilometers, which is 12 miles, but the width runs for only about three kilometers, which is 1.9 miles wide. The Matakana Island is known for the unique geology and history of the region, and the varied biodiversity found in the waters and on land as well. The estuarial waters are home to lots of interesting aquatic animals, like stingrays, dolphins, whales, sharks and fish like snapper, kahawai, trevally, tarakihi and the kingfish.

The inner harbour side of the island has mostly fertile, horticultural land that is used for dairy farming. The ‘barrier’ which protects the inner harbour side with its dense pine forests which face the ocean surf on the Pacific Ocean is where the white sandy beaches are found, stretching from the northern harbour entrance located at Bowentown Heads to the Tauranga Harbour entrance which lies opposite to Mauao at Mount Maunganui.

The island is known to be populated by the Maori Tribes that remain associated with Ngai Te Rangi, and the latest census reads not more than around 300 people residing in the area, with only 90 inhabited dwellings, making it the third least populated area in the Western Bay of Plenty. 

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Things to Do

  • The strong north-easterly swells on high tides make the Matakana Islands a popular surfing destination, along with regular beach activities like swimming or setting up a small picnic.
  • The islands do not have public amenities, food stalls or shops, so it is best advised for the tourists to carry their own meals, drinks, towels etc. before heading to the beaches.
  • The pine forests surrounding the area are strictly off limits and walking or driving through the plantation is prohibited as the forests are commercial areas where logging constantly takes place.
  • The beaches are quite remote and are visible from the Tauranga Harbour but it is worth the visit considering the serenity and beauty of the shores.
  • Visitors can also enjoy watching the birds in the area, such as the popular New Zealand dotterel, which stands endangered as of today.
  • These birds are found nesting at Matakana’s surf side along with a lot of other bird species. 

History

The Matakana Islands were the subject of a landmark case that was appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council from the New Zealand High Court, namely Arklow Investments Limited and Christopher Wingate v. I.D. Maclean and Others wherein the ownership of the 10,000 acres of land was disputed from the year 1993 to 1999.

The islands are also known to be home to three maraes, which are cleared land areas that hold a religious significance, belonging to the Ngai Te Rangi hapu. The three maraes, namely Kutaroa Marae, Opureora Marae, and the Oruarahi Marae are affiliated with Ngati Tauaiti, Ngai Tuwhiwhia and Ngai Tamawhariua respectively. 

How To Reach Matakana Island

  • Matakana Island lies at a distance of around fifteen to forty minutes, depending on the tides, from Omokoroa or the Tauranga Harbour, which is located at Sulphur Point on the Cross Road, via a ferry or a barge ride.
  • Tourists can also opt for kayaks or private watercrafts which start from the Pilot Bay, Sulphur Point, Fergusson Park or from Omokoroa. 

How To Reach Matakana Island

  • Matakana Island lies at a distance of around fifteen to forty minutes, depending on the tides, from Omokoroa or the Tauranga Harbour, which is located at Sulphur Point on the Cross Road, via a ferry or a barge ride.
  • Tourists can also opt for kayaks or private watercrafts which start from the Pilot Bay, Sulphur Point, Fergusson Park or from Omokoroa. 

How To Reach Matakana Island

  • Matakana Island lies at a distance of around fifteen to forty minutes, depending on the tides, from Omokoroa or the Tauranga Harbour, which is located at Sulphur Point on the Cross Road, via a ferry or a barge ride.
  • Tourists can also opt for kayaks or private watercrafts which start from the Pilot Bay, Sulphur Point, Fergusson Park or from Omokoroa. 

How To Reach Matakana Island

  • Matakana Island lies at a distance of around fifteen to forty minutes, depending on the tides, from Omokoroa or the Tauranga Harbour, which is located at Sulphur Point on the Cross Road, via a ferry or a barge ride.
  • Tourists can also opt for kayaks or private watercrafts which start from the Pilot Bay, Sulphur Point, Fergusson Park or from Omokoroa. 

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