There must surely be a behavioural study in this. Aucklanders escaping Auckland for the weekend, to get stuck in a traffic jam with Aucklanders all heading out for a latte.
The Matakana Farmers Market is always busy. It's the perfect place to take visitors, it's quaint and somewhat idyllic, nestled on the river banks, showcasing local produce, with a great vibe. And there are so many other things to do in the area.
On the day I went this month, my Melburnian friend and I were up bright and early and there in just under an hour, as the market was coming to life. Oysters, au natural in their shell for breakfast? Maybe not. Instead we eased our way in with a delicate whitebait fritter and a lemon and sugar crepe, both delectable.
Getting a coffee requires patience, the queue resembling Britomart Station any week-day morning. I thought I was sensible, diverting to Matakana Market Kitchen cafe to order mine. But this was one haven definitely not embracing the market bustle, instead we had a slow sojourn on a Saturday morning. (If you're doing a quick shop, pop up to the delicatessen that was once a Nosh store, where the coffee is premium, much like the epicurean products they sell.)
It was a sunny autumn day and definitely the place to be seen with not one but two film crews (although Ms Melbourne had no idea who John Kirwan was).
If you have never been, and you are one to meander and grab a few bits along the way, the market still impresses.
Walking down the cobbled ramp to the entrance, the first thing you see is the dog sitting service, for canines great and small. You can drop off your pooch for gold coin donation, as four-legged friends aren't permitted in the market.
Give priority to the large fruit and veg stall, stopping for a sturdy reusable basket (and market tea towel for the tourists) as the produce can sell quickly.
In homage to My Kitchen Rules, our mystery bag of take home goodies included Nuts About New Zealand Chocolate-Coated Macadamia Nuts (a-maz-ing), Cobara's roasted seeds, Pukeko Bakery focaccia bread, an absolutely incredible coriander chimichurri from Kauri Creek, Matakana Nut Butter (the cashew) and Matakana Smokehouse Salmon.
To ensure we had something to wash it down with, there was a dry, fruity feijoa sparkling wine from Lothlorien, their organic fruit sourced from Puhoi.
BEST BREAKFAST: An I Love Pies chorizo sausage roll hit the spot for my friend, and a bacon sandwich from the Matakana Bacon Company for me (with their beef, bacon and cheese sausages to take home, please).
UNIQUE FACTOR: We easily spent 20 minutes at the Doggy Day Care, patting all the dogs. This would be a great way for local schools to fundraise at other markets, too.
HIGH FIVES: The market is proudly zero-waste, with many of the food providers using compostable plates and utensils. It's admirable that they are doing so much to protect their beautiful environment.
MAKE A DAY OF IT: It's an abundant region - from the beautiful Tawharanui Beach for a walk or surf, through to the Morris & James Pottery just around the corner. This area is growing due to the influx of people into Ōmaha so there are plenty of gorgeous places for lunch - from Brick Bay Winery & Sculpture Trail through to the new Sculptuream Art venue and restaurant and Leigh Sawmill. Or the Thirsty Pelican sports pub may be more your scene.
The market is also enveloped by a range of stores from fashion boutiques to art galleries.
PARKING: There's a carpark on the right as you enter the village, or on the surrounding roads.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Alas no, it is 70km from downtown Auckland ... and don't forget to pay the Northern Tunnel toll.
CHILD-FRIENDLY: Yes, but keep an eye on them, as the river is very close.
EFTPOS: The ATM queue can be long.
DOGS: See doggy day care, above.
WET WEATHER OPTIONS: The stalls are relatively well covered but don't expect to carry an umbrella, it's shoulder-to-shoulder.
VERDICT: It is better as a day trip than as an alternative to a supermarket shop.
Matakana Farmers' Market,
2 Matakana Valley Rd
Every Saturday, 8am-1pm