Coatesville made a name for itself in 2011 when resident Kim Dotcom hit the headlines after a high profile Police raid on his rented property, the ‘ Dotcom Mansion’. Visitors still seek out Coatesville looking for photo opportunities on the driveway outside the Mansion, or a glimpse of the life size African animal sculptures grouped eerily on the hillside.
But there is far more to Coatesville than its most notorious resident. The village is only 10 minutes north of Albany, Auckland’s fastest growing suburb and a mecca for shopping (think large malls rather than small boutiques). A day trip to Coatesville has plenty to offer visitors.
Start with breakfast or a leisurely brunch at either Fernielea Café or Black Cottage Café, located side by side on the Coatesville Riverhead Highway. Both are recent award winners and are known for their friendly service as well as excellent café food. Fernielea is particularly popular with local families for its child friendly outside garden area complete with playground, trampoline and sandpit.
If you time your visit to Coatesville to coincide with the monthly Sunday market, you will be in for an extra treat. Although not a Farmer’s Market as such, there are delicious food stalls, craft offerings and second hand treasures to be found. The market is open on the first Sunday of every month (except January), from 10am to 2pm. Buy a coffee and enjoy wandering, exploring and experiencing the warm local culture of this rural community.
Coatesville is a garden village, with some exceptional local gardens open to the public. These include the beautiful Mincher Country Garden (a Garden of National Significance), Brookgreen Park, Woodbridge and Twin Lakes. See the following websites for more information: New Zealand Gardens Trust, The Twinlakes, and Woodbridge Gardens.
If walking around the gardens is thirsty work, a great choice for lunch and a drink is the Riverhead, New Zealand’s oldest riverside tavern and a delightful place for indoor or outdoor dining. The Riverhead is steeped in local history and was a vital part of the development of early New Zealand. Riverhead is a 5-10 minute drive west of Coatesville (The Riverhead).
A further 20 minutes’ drive north of Coatesville lies the quaint countryside village of Puhoi . Puhoi is situated on the beautiful Puhoi River and is one of New Zealand’s two ethnic historic villages. The village was originally settled in 1863 by immigrants from Bohemia, an area which is now the Czech Republic. The story of its European settlement can be seen in the Bohemian museum. The Puhoi Pub, with a collection of artifacts and colorful characters, is well worth a visit as well as the century-old Puhoi Church and the Puhoi Town Library.
Puhoi also boasts a monthly market (Puhoi Markets) and if you feel like some exercise on the water, Puhoi River Canoes offer kayaks or canoes to suit the whole family and cater to most ages and fitness levels (Puhoi River Canoes). The Puhoi Valley Café and Cheese Store is an ideal stop for award winning New Zealand cheeses, a delicious lunch menu showcasing New Zealand cheese, and exceptional artisan ice cream – try the salted caramel for a truly divine taste sensation. This café also features a small playground and hosts afternoon jazz during the summer.
Don’t forget to pay the Northern Gateway road toll on the way south again back to Auckland (this can be easily done online) as you return from a refreshing day in the countryside north of Auckland.
Other nearby highlights include:
For mountain biking: Woodhill Forest http://www.bikeparks.co.nz/
For eating: The Tasting Shed, Kumeu
For wine tasting: Coopers Creek Vineyard, Kumeu http://www.cooperscreek.co.nz/
For eating, drinking, sightseeing and shopping: Matakana Village http://www.visitmatakana.co.nz/
Leigh Beach and Goat Island Marine Reserve – http://www.leighbythesea.co.nz/