No, we don’t mean the Warkworth, Northumberland on the River Coquet that was sieged by Henry IV
Warkworth is a wee gem in Northland, New Zealand set around the beautiful Mahurangi River. A first choice for daytrippers and holidaymakers, Warkworth is an hour’s drive north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. And September is the perfect time to escape the house, leave the business behind for a spell, and plan to explore this special corner of Te Ika a Maui.
It’s named for the village of Warkworth, Northumberland, England, site of the historic medieval Warkworth Castle, where Henry IV overthrew the rebellious Percys in the 13th century thanks to the deft use of a cannon. That Warkworth, is the sister town of Warkworth, New Zealand. So is Warkworth, Ontario in Canada.
What is so special about Warkworth?
The Brokenwood Mysteries
Warkworth is in the media, but not in the usual way. It’s the village where the murder mystery series The Brokenwood Mysteries is filmed. Its main street, shops, galleries and restaurants can be seen in the background.
During World War II, thousands of visitors in the form of American soldiers were stationed in the Warkworth region at 25 military camps near the town. It served as a centre for their training for the Pacific Theatre. Visit the local Warkworth Museum to learn about this history and the region’s links to the American war effort.
The Parry Kauri Park
The Parry Kauri Park located next to the Warkworth Museum has a walk to a hidden kauri tree grove. The boardwalks, bridges and viewing platform make it east to explore the native forest, with a stand of magnificent and ancient kauri trees in the centre. Some of them are are 800 years old. A great family activity.
A cracker of a coast
Warkworth is a short drive from the coast. Regional public beaches include Pakiri Beach, where you can ride a horse through sand dunes (contact Pakiri Beach Horse Rides to book a ride); the Goat Island Marine Reserve with some of the best snorkeling in the country (the underwater views are free!); and search out Snells Beach, a location famous for its shorebirds and pohutukawa trees.
What’s on the menu and on stage in Warkworth?
The Warkworth district is part of a bustling regional foodie and events scene, and you don’t need to search for miles to get a good meal.
The nearby Matakana Village Farmers’ Market is on every Saturday from 8am to 1pm – grab some local produce, preserves and delicious baked goods, take in the chaos and the colour, and enjoy some live music.
The Leigh Sawmill, just up the road in the coastal town of Leigh, is chock full of beers and ciders on tap from all over New Zealand, from north to south, and features great Kiwi wines as well as fresh local fish. Its main fame, though, is as a national iconic music venue, worth visiting for a gig! Coming in September: comedian Guy Montgomery from Taskmaster New Zealand.
And overlooking the river in the centre of town, the cosy Wharf Street Bistro and Bar is one of Warkworth’s best setting for a feed.
Is there a Warkworth castle in New Zealand?
No. But while there may be no castle ruins in New Zealand’s Warkworth, with so much to do, and no need for a siege to get it, we reckon the king would approve anyways.