About Awhitu Peninsula

Awhitu Peninsula is approximately 40km long and 8-10km wide and has a total area of approximately 22,000 hectares. When translated to English, the Maori word Awhitu is said to mean “A longing to return”.

Awhitu Peninsula is basically a giant, ancient sand dune – predominantly rural, with a mixture of dairy, beef, sheep and deer farming as well as some horticulture and exotic forestry. The Peninsula also boasts fantastic birdlife with species seldom now seen in the city and suburbs of Auckland.

Fallow deer can sometimes be spotted grazing around the edges of the ‘fingers of bush’ which criss-cross the length and width of the Peninsula.

Fallow deer
Fallow deer

The Peninsula has approximately 900 households of which 600 could be classed as holiday homes and baches with a population of approximately 2,400. This number swells considerably through the summer and holiday weekends with many people enjoying the beautiful harbour bays such as Wattle Bay, Orua Bay, Big Bay, Hudson’s Beach, Grahams Beach together with two beaches at Matakawau.

There are boat ramps at most of the beaches with an ‘all tide’ boat ramp at Matakawau for those who wish to fish and spend their time on the harbour.

Matakawau all tide boat ramp
Matakawau all tide boat ramp

Visitor numbers have been estimated at 30,000 a year and growing. The cultural diversity of the region is reflected in a dynamic and varied artistic community.

The west coast beaches of the Tasman Sea such as Kariotahi and Hamilton’s Gap area of Waimatuku are ‘perfectly imperfect‘ and will prove for most, to be an enlightening experience. The prevailing wind is the westerly which crosses the vast Tasman sea purifying the air before hitting Awhitu Peninsula and New Zealand.

At night on many parts of the Peninsula you can look up to the heavens and have a truly ‘wow experience’ due to the clarity of the air along with zero light pollution and see trillions of stars and galaxies.

There are numerous points of interest, however you must first start the Awhitu Peninsula journey at Waiuku, enjoying the historic Kentish Hotel built in 1851 which is considered to be the ‘oldest’ licensed hotel building in New Zealand.

The Kentish Hotel offers the full traditional hotel experience, combined with its great history – accommodation with excellent casual dining. It is a great place to meet prior to or after exploring the Awhitu Peninsula.

Kentish Hotel
The Kentish Hotel – https://thekentishhotel.co.nz

Waiuku, together with Pukekohe (20 minutes away by car) are considered to be some of the fastest-growing areas in New Zealand.

In Waiuku, visit the Information Centre opposite the Kentish Hotel and gather what other information you may need before setting off on your discovery journey. You will find the staff are most helpful.

Waiuku wharf and boat
Waiuku wharf and boat

One visit to the Peninsula will not be enough for you to take in all that it offers, and after making a number of visits you will clearly see why the Maoris named it Awhitu – remember it is “A longing to return”. Then just maybe (like ourselves), you can make plans to make it your future.

Huia and Cornwallis
Huia and Cornwallis

The Awhitu Peninsula experience

It is essential you put the following places on your “To Go And Visit List”. They are not in any particular order but must be ticked off for you to get the true Awhitu Peninsula experience.


For Accommodation, Dining, Conferences, Weddings and Glamping.-
Magical West Coast experience visit Castaways Resort

Castaways Resort

Kariotahi Beach

Jet Ski events, Horse riding & Trekking , Paragliding, Blokart Land Yachts, 4×4 Driving, Surfcasting, Kite Fishing, Kontiki Fishing and Drone Fishing. You will also discover people beachcombing along the vast black sandy beach which contains a very high iron sand content.

“There’s something about the wild west coast that dissolves the stress and reinvigorates the soul!”

Briar Hubbard (writer) in an article titled ‘Perfectly Imperfect‘ about Kariotahi for Stuff.co.nz

Kariotahi Beach

Awhitu Wind Farm

The majestic wind turbine positioned out by Kariotahi erected in 2020. (Please note that we should see two more of these erected in the future.)

The Manukau Heads Lighthouse.

This is a replica built in 2006 to replace the original. Open daily 9am to 5 pm.

The Manukau Bar

The site of New Zealand’s worst sea disaster with the sailing ship Orpheus floundering and sinking on 7th February 1863 with the loss of 189 lives.

Awhitu Regional Park (Brooks Road, Matakawau)

Walk and view the historic Brooks Homestead together with a very picturesque beach.

Awhitu Golf Club (Brooks Road, Matakawau)

This is a 9 hole course approximately 25 minutes drive north of Waiuku.

Club days are Sunday and Wednesday. The clubhouse is open for meals on Friday evenings and for lunches/morning tea on Sundays (12 noon to 3pm).

Awhitu Wines (Greenock Drive, Awhitu)

For handcrafted wines. They produce an amazing Greenock Syrah, Peninsula Chardonnay and a Harbour Rose.


Neville & Cheryl’s Garden Centre (Grahams Beach Road)

For all your plants and gardening supplies.

Pleasant Valley Blueberries

A summer favourite – picking blueberries with the family. Situated slightly inland from Wattle Bay close to the Manukau Heads.

Awhitu Landcare, Matakawau

One of the pioneer community environmental groups in New Zealand. Volunteer work commenced in 1994 and covers the Awhitu Peninsula’s 22,000 hectares. Volunteers have planted over 150,000 native trees and shrubs in the past 26 years and destroyed in excess of 30,000 pests.


Awhitu District School, Matakawau

For New Entrants to Year 8 students.

Every Easter there is a fundraising event with huge support from the community. The school grounds are filled with donated goods from far and wide and auctioned off with full proceeds going to the school.


Awhitu Volunteer Fire Brigade & First Response Awhitu Road, Matakawau

Bhana’s Foodmarket & Service Station, Matakawau

This iconic Peninsula store is open 7 days – has a great overall selection and operates a takeaway in the early evenings, which is very popular with the locals. The Bhana family are currently in the planning stages of a completely new store and garage to replace the existing structures.

Matakawau Hall

Market days are held here generally 4 times a year on Sundays from 9am -1pm when there are public holidays combined with long weekends. These markets along with the Pollok market (as mentioned below) are extremely well attended with a large number of interesting stalls, from homemade produce to knitting, books and arts and crafts.

Pollok Hall & Recreation Centre

Market days are held the first Sunday in every month 9am -1pm.

Pollok Hall
Pollok Hall

Pollok (Artists) Co-op (2141 Awhitu Road, Pollok)

The Pollok Co-op offers a range of unique regional art, from funky fabric art and ceramics to fine art and sculpture. Enjoy a coffee in the sculpture garden.

Pollok Co-op
Pollok Co-op

Awhitu Central Church

Built in 1886, there is a cemetery behind steeped in history and located on the road to the Lighthouse and Manukau Heads.

Awhitu Central Church
Awhitu Central Church

Kohekohe Historic Presbyterian Church (1189 Awhitu Road)

Operated from 1886 to 1976. Now privately owned.

Kohekohe Presbyterian Church, Awhitu Peninsula, New Zealand

If you have visited all of the above then you will have nearly circumnavigated the Awhitu Peninsula covering most of the points of interest, and when you have completed this journey, you will know just how unique and special the Peninsula is.

If you haven’t already, when you leave this section click on the Home Page button and view the video ‘Passionate about the Peninsula’. It is a photographic essay and includes video clips covering various parts of the Peninsula.

The Waiuku country town centre caters for all the needs of approximately 10,000 residents. It has excellent medical facilities, veterinary clinics, supermarket shopping, hardware and building supplies, cafes, restaurants and a full range of takeaway and liquor outlets. Schooling is fully catered for, with preschool, primary and then finishing with the Waiuku High School.

Having built our own property on an Awhitu headland, we know from that experience that Waiuku and the surrounding area has everything you need to complete any project you wish to undertake. There are multiple choices from the local trades and it is all here!

One issue we that we have encountered on the odd occasional day when building is that, if there is no wind due to a stable weather ‘high’ combined with the smoke going straight up from the Glenbrook Steel Mills chimney stacks, you may find that an excuse for non-attendance tomorrow could come in. Your “tradie” is most likely to be heading off across the Manukau Bar to replenish their freezer stocks!!!

This is simply why they have chosen Waiuku and the Awhitu Peninsula as a lifestyle place to live, work and raise their families.