Matiatia Headland Track

Walking the Matiatia Headland Track

A quick 35 to 45 minute ferry ride from one of Auckland’s ferry terminals will get you to Waiheke, the city’s second largest island. Described by Lonely Planet as “a utopia of secret coves, beautiful beaches, rolling vineyards, luxury lodges and bohemian sensibilities” it’s no surprise that we regularly make the trip out there to get a little slice of island life, and if you enjoy the outdoors, there’s much to explore.

Waiheke Island marker

The Matiatia Headland Walk is a beautiful showcase for Waiheke’s picturesque coastline. While a little steep in places with a few sections close to cliff edges, this really is an easy walk although not suitable for prams or wheelchairs. Conveniently, it also starts and ends at the Matiatia ferry building meaning that transport to or from the route’s start is not a problem. The walk will take anything from 2 to 3 hours to complete depending on which route you opt for.

From the ferry building, most visitors will head north along the shoreline towards the old pā site (fortified Māori settlement) on Mokemoke headland. If you’re something of a history buff you can read more about this particular site here.

It’s worth mentioning that there is a high tide pinch point just near the ferry building as you’ll see below. If you’re not up for a bit of a rock scrambling you’ll need to take a 30 to 40 minute detour which is clearly shown on the Te Ara Hura walk map. You’ll want to pick up one of those from the ferry building information stand before you head out.

Matiatia Headland walk

Continuing north from the pā, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful views across the channel towards Motuihe & Motutapu Islands with Auckland City skyline way in the distance, not to mention of course the iconic outline of Rangitoto Island.

And it’s not just the views across the water that will captivate you as you walk along. You will pass a number of spectacular properties and to say they are spectacular is something of an understatement. The fact that at least one of them has its own helicopter landing pad most probably gives you a good idea of what to expect.

Matiatia Headland walk
Matiatia Headland walk
Matiatia Headland walk
Matiatia Headland walk
Matiatia Headland walk

Rounding the northern most tip of the headland you’ll head east towards ‘Cable Bay’. You’ll know you’re there when you see the ‘railway dog’. It will be clear what we mean when you get there.

From here you’ll have an option to either head right and up towards Delamore Drive or continue along the coast and over the hill towards Owhanake Bay where you’ll have another choice. If you’re short on time you can head up and again join Delamore Drive or continue along the bay eventually joining Korora Road. This is a good option if you’re feeling energetic as this route can take you all the way in to Oneroa, a quaint seaside village with no shortage of options for a leisurely bite to eat before you return to your ferry or instead, catch a bus or taxi to one of the island’s many beautiful attractions.

Matiatia Headland walk

As you can see from our photos, it was a bit of grey day when we visited. Despite that we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll around the headland. But what really stood out for us was the interesting coastline below with its crystal clear waters and interesting little nooks, crannies and sea caves, all accessible only if you had a boat or say… a paddleboard. That of course got us thinking about our next visit to Waiheke which will almost certainly include a paddle around this wonderful little stretch of coastline.

Looking for more ideas on things to do and places to see when visiting the Auckland region? Have a look at our guide, Top things to do in Auckland.


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  1. Hi and hope all is well. We will be heading to NZ from the U.S. in December and will spend a day on Waiheke Island. I really like the idea of arriving and starting with the Matiatia Headland Track From what you’ve written, i’m trying to figure out if this is a loop and as well how long a trail it is. The two-three hours is fine and dandy. If i further research this trail, some note it’s only 50 minutes and about 2.5 miles so, i’m trying to make sure i get on the right track as you’ve described as those pictures look just great. And then we’ll spend our time afterwards with lunch and a vineyard visit. Thanks so much for any insight.
    All the best,

    1. Hi Mitch – thanks for getting in touch. It’s been a couple of years since we last walked that track so things may have changed but there’s definitely some confusion around track names depending on where you research online. We would highly recommend Walk Waiheke as the most accurate source of information. What we referred to as the Matiatia Headland Track is actually listed on Walk Waiheke as the Matiatia to Oneroa – the Mokemoke Pā headland walk. What we described in our post was just a section of the walk which we did as a loop that started and finished at the ferry terminal. You can check out details of the full walk here.

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