For three weeks I lived on a wonderful little sheep farm in Matakana. I was WWOOFing--being part of the "willing workers on Organic farms" program. While each farm and experience is different, I thoroughly loved living as and with locals and being part of the family farm. I spent four hours a day working in the vegetable garden, collecting eggs, building compost bins, moving sheep, canning, and pickling. On this rural peaceful farm I was not alone but with a small family and three other woofers in a great beautiful warn old Victorian farm house. My afternoons were free for exploring the town, bike riding in the country side, and even a day of clamming at the beach. Even if you do not want to volunteer on a farm in exchange for lodging and meals if you are ever driving north of Auckland I recommend a visit to Matakana and seeing how the locals live. The Matakana Village is a good start for some local food, crafts and entertainment.