Tim Roxborogh checks into a unique B&B on the Tawharanui Peninsula

Location:

At the start of the Tawharanui Peninsula; a five-minute drive from Matakana village and 15 minutes from Warkworth.

Rooms: Three suites, the premiere of which sits at the top of a turret and is entirely circular. I've never slept in a round hotel room and the novelty didn't wear off. Our suite came with separate his-and-hers bathroom vanities, a full walk-in wardrobe and you get that massive rooftop balcony to yourselves. The sunrise views over the islands of Kawau Bay from the curved windows as seen from the king-size bed made getting up a challenge.

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Style: Think a combination of Art Deco, Greek stucco and pre-87 stock-market crash opulence. There's little like it anywhere in New Zealand and that first look of the place — circular turrets and all — when you head down the driveway is striking.

The property: Set on three-and-a-half acres of rural New Zealand countryside overlooking green hills, trees and small, forested islands. There are water features, gardens and sun lounges on-site, not to mention use of the living and dining room at the base of one of the turrets that's exclusively for the guests.

Dining: As a luxury B&B, Matakana Castle doesn't disappoint on either of those bs. We had a breakfast of fruit, cereal and French toast, having also enjoyed a welcome platter the previous day with cheese, crackers, meats and a glass of wine. The restaurants and bars of Matakana Village are just down the road, or you could do what we did and get Thai takeaways so we could bring them back to the castle and enjoy the view.

The hosts: A lovely, down-to-earth English couple, Natalie and John Taylor. They've lived in New Zealand for many years and their friends back home still laugh that Natalie and John moved to the other side of the world and ended up living in a castle.

Things to do: From the booming farmers' market in Matakana village, to the beaches of Omaha, Pakiri and Tawharanui, to more than a dozen wineries, to the lush bushwalks, it's not hard to see why this place is exploding in popularity. My must-do is a visit to the soft, golden sands of Anchor Bay on the Tawharanui Peninsula, followed by the remarkable, enchanted-forest feel of the regional park's Ecology Trail.

Perfect For: Romantic getaways for Aucklanders or as base for tourists to explore the Matakana, Omaha and Tawharanui regions.

Price: From $260-$420 depending on the suite and the time of year.

Would I return? No doubt.

CHECKLIST

is at 378 Whitmore Road, Matakana, Warkworth. Phone: (09) 422 9656, email:

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