Little Barrier Island appears to loom over the landscape, even though its formidable dark silhouette is 22km across a shimmering sea.

Like an ethereal Bali Hai island this unique predator-free sanctuary is clearly visible from every corner of the region. It’s an especially riveting view from the spacious lounge of Takatu Lodge & Vineyard, an exclusive boutique hideaway snuggling on the top of a prominent ridge on Whitmore Road, near Matakana township.

Matakana’s striking twin cabana public amenities Above: A Māori pou carving overlooks Omaha Beach

Beneath the lodge the vivid green pastures tumble over gentle folds in the landscape, dipping into a valley and then rising to a smoothly rounded ridge. The pattern of undulations is repeated in perfect uniformity as if nature designed this terrain as a sculptural masterpiece.

Once I venture out to explore Matakana, I find there’s a close affinity between local arts and crafts and the picturesque landscape. This becomes obvious in the town centre where a surreal twinset of sculpturesque public amenities rivals Kawakawa’s curvaceous ceramic wonders and make a very bold artistic statement.

A sparkling sea links Omaha to Little Barrier Island

Two arched cabanas resembling upturned rowboats stand beside giant enigmatic male and female faces watching over the inspirational rural town. Remarkably, the design competition for the buildings was won by a first-year art student ahead of 12 architects and designers.


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