On one side of the entrance to Tauranga Harbour is the long, forested island of Matakana – much of the land in private Maori ownership. The island’s long white sand beaches and fabled surf breaks are among its attractions. Matakana also has a colony of rare and endangered New Zealand dotterel, that nest in the sand dunes.
Without a boat, access via irregular ferries can be tricky. ‘In spite of being on our doorstep, very few people get the opportunity to go over there,’ says Grant Bradley of Adventure Bay of Plenty. The company that specialises in ‘unique outdoor adventure activities for small groups,’ is helping address that with kayak tours run in a hook-up with the local Maori – that provide some insight into the lives of the islanders. The aim is to introduce people to local history and culture, but Grant stresses that no one is herded like sheep, and once on the island, relaxed ‘coastal exploring’ is often the norm.
Grant’s Matakana Extravaganza tour begions with a half- hour kayak paddle across the spectacular entrance to Tauranga Harbour. Activities available on the island include fishing, a ride on a carriage drawn by Clydesdales (the wagon master is an islander born and bred, and a ‘real character’) and horse treks.
Clay bird shooting and farm visits can also be arranged. The full day trip, which includes a barbecue, costs $160 for a minimum of two, but Grant Bradley can take up to ten people in double kayaks, and is happy to tailor different packages to suit clients. For further information, phone Grant Bradley on 576 7040, cell 021 994 820, or freephone 0800-238 267 (NZ only), www.adventurebop.co.nz