The Surf, Sand, Scenery – Not To Mention Golf – Of Coromandel’s Matarangi Resort

I could wait until once the Covid-19 lockdown has finished to publish this article, but the dream of travel is something I’m all about right now. If nobody on Planet Earth can holiday at this precise moment in history – and realistically, nobody can – we shouldn’t deny ourselves the pleasure of a bit of dreaming about where we might go once we get on top of this ghastly virus.

Of course, none of us know when that might be, but what is a reasonable assumption is that domestic travel will be a possibility considerably ahead of any thoughts of venturing overseas again. With that in mind, let me introduce you to Matarangi Resort in New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula.

For some years, what is now known as “Matarangi Resort” was operated by The Dunes golf course – a stunning Bob Charles-designed 18-hole course that occupies much of the northernmost tip of the Matarangi peninsula. In more recent times the business sides of the golf course and the accomodation have separated, but this doesn’t mean this isn’t still the perfect place to base yourself if you fancy a round or two on this masterpiece of landscaping.

This is, after all, still one of the few hotels in New Zealand where golfers attempting to clear a water hazard are directly outside your bedroom window. But what the split in business operations does do is act as a reminder that Matarangi Resort is so much more than just a place to stay for golfing nuts.

Sometimes I feel like the only person who ever played cricket to a semi-reasonable standard who was objectively hopeless at golf, so there you go. But even a non-golfer like me can appreciate the beauty of both the game and its settings and Matarangi Resort is in one of those classically beautiful settings. More than that though, it also happens to be in very short walking distance of a striking white sand beach.

The white sands that ring the golf course at Matarangi are also a native bird sanctuary, with countless oystercatchers visible in designated areas. Outside of those zones is a beach ideal for sunbathing, cricket and some more than decent surf.

Indeed, the approximately four-kilometre long coastal walk (that begins and ends at The Dunes clubhouse) with the golf course on your left and the sand, birds and waves on your right is my favourite thing about this purpose-built holiday town. Along the walk, tall pines dominate surroundings dotted with some remarkable mansions that blend into the trees. Visually, much of Matarangi’s northern tip reminds me of California both in terms of architecture and vegetation.

Though once out of the trees – and with all those native birds – there’s little doubt this is a beautiful slice of New Zealand.

It seems like an age ago, but it was just four weeks back that me and some of my greatest friends gathered in Matarangi for a beachside wedding. Looking for somewhere to stay, one look at Matarangi Resort made it clear this would be the ideal option.

Aiming for comfort rather than opulence, Matarangi Resort offers a couple of dozen fully-equipped two-storey villas for their guests. Ours was large enough that we had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and plenty of space for me, my wife Aimee, our baby girl Riley, and Aimee’s parents Alan and Kathy. The kitchen, dining and living areas are extremely spacious, there’s both a washing machine and dryer, and the views over the lake to the mountains – either from the downstairs deck or the upstairs balcony – were sensational.

Bean bags are available and each evening – other than the night of the wedding – we’d sit outside on our balcony, sip on a wine, watch the sun set over the lake and into the jagged hills beyond, while being entertained by the often hapless golfers trying to clear the water and land their ball on the green.

Next time I’ll make sure I’m one of those hapless golfers, but this visit was more about being with family and friends, all of whom happened to be conveniently spread across three different villas.

This was a time of shared dinners, the clinking of glasses, and of hugs-a-plenty in a wonderful environment. Just three hours drive from Auckland, a mere 30 days ago, and somehow – in this uncertain, locked-down, stay-in-your-bubble world – it feels like a lifetime and a universe away. Let’s hope it’s not too long until we can get back.

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