50 Minutes from Auckland CBD and just off Kaipara Coast Highway, Mataia Homestead comes into view from behind the row of trees lining the driveway.
Photographer Anna Pakenham from Blush Photography and I came here initially to scope out the homestead as a potential location for a sustainable wedding photoshoot but were just as much blown away by the grounds as we were the house itself.
It's the cutest wee house and sits surrounded by 5 acres of gardens and 1300 hectares of farmland, 400 of which is a coastal native forest and salt marsh wetland conservation area. This restored conservation area is also an approved Kiwi habitat with the first North Island Brown Kiwi released in May 2013.
For a gorgeous, intimate wedding, the homestead allows 50 guests maximum and also offers accommodation for up to 12 people. Choices of ceremony locations include the heritage fruit orchard, a beautiful rustic shed backdrop, a beautiful wee plant nursery and of course the stunning homestead.
Catering must be outsourced and gives control to the couple on type, style and price of the reception meal. Considering the popularity of gourmet food trucks and grazing tables, this seems like the perfect way to go for anything from a wedstival to a luxurious, intimate affair.
For the adventurous outdoorsy couple, there are 1, 2 or 3 day walks through the native bush out to the Kaipara, These can be guided or self-guided. Or relax and enjoy the Bed and Breakfast service that is offered and the nearby Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park and Omeru Falls are absolute must-sees.
Built in 1891, the homestead has been home to five generations of the Gardner family and is still in the family - run by Jenny and Shane Hood. It is Jenny who meets us here today to give us the tour in-between running the working beef and sheep farm, managing the grounds and taking care of her two young daughters.
Mataia is registered as a Category 2 Historic Building with the NZ Historic Places Trust. The unusual M-shaped red roof on the double-storey house makes it quite striking. Fascinating also to know that iconic New Zealand potter Briar Gardner was also brought up and educated at Mataia in the late 1890s. (The Auckland Museum has a collection of her pottery as well as a film of her at work.)
Amazingly, approximately 4000 trees are planted by volunteers each year to assist with the riparian fencing and planting of Mataia stream. In addition the project has a relationship with Meadowbank School under the Auckland Council's Trees for Survival programme which sees approximately 1000 trees raised by the students each year and then planted by them in the riparian margins of the Mataia Stream. (They are constantly looking for volunteers to help with planting, releasing and monitoring. If you are interested please contact Gill or Kevin at email@example.com.)
A percentage of every guest stay also goes towards the Mataia Restoration Project – a conservation project on the 3500ha land surrounding Mataia Homestead (incl kiwi sanctuary). This money is spent on pest and predator control as well as fencing off and planting riparian margins and feeder waterways in gullies. Great place for an eco wedding don’t you think?
Flora & Styling by One Poppy | Photography by Blush Photography | Ribbons by Penelope's Child | Hair by Hannah | Makeup by Belle and Sage | Ceramics by Lil Ceramics | Props by Miss Hemingway & The Pretty Prop Shop | Shirt by Recreate | Dress by Annika Deboer | Platter by Together Bespoke |Macrame by Knots & Rose |Jewellery by SGJ Bridal | Models Ethically Kate & Tim Hall | Stationery by Church Confetti