Experience Matheson Bay…
Matheson Bay is a well kept secret – great swimming here at all tides.
Must dos at
• Walk through the kauri forest past the waterfalls and swimming hole
• Swim, snorkel or explore the rockpools at low tide
• Enjoy a picnic on the grass
Matheson Bay Information
A kilometre south of Leigh, three roads lead to Matheson Bay. It is a 15-30 minute walk from Leigh – either via the road and / or combined with one of the walking tracks. The bay is stunningly beautiful, and is a great place to spend a day with children. Or you could just chill out and enjoy exploring around the coast, or reading a good book.
This pretty little beach is sheltered from the ocean by its protecting reef and island, making it a safe place to swim or paddle a kayak depending on weather conditions. There is a swimming pontoon in the bay during summer months.
You can walk around the rocks at low tide heading towards Daniel’s Reef and view the rockpools and the fossils.
The Kohuroa Stream divides the bay and a footbridge gives access to either end. Large grassed areas are available for picnics and beach games.
Matheson Bay is a popular spot for dive schools for their dive training. Sometimes orca come right into the bay and whales and dolphins can be spotted from the hill on the southwest side.
Come back in winter on the Sunday nearest the shortest day to join us for the Leigh Midwinter swim which is held at Matheson Bay. Check on this website or the Leigh by the Sea Facebook page for dates and times.
Matheson Bay Facilities
Vehicle access gates to the reserve are locked at night. The reserve has two separate parking areas, a children’s play area, public toilets and changing rooms and a cold outside shower.
Matheson Bay access for dogs
Dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10:00 am and 6:30 pm from the start of Labour Weekend to the end of Easter Monday, but for the rest of the year dogs are allowed on the beach at all times.
Matheson Bay Bush Walk
From Matheson Bay Beach, this beautiful bush walk begins at the flat grassed area on the west side of the Kohuroa Stream. Boardwalks and steps follow alongside the stream up through native bush that includes nature kauri trees. A series of waterfalls flow near the top. There is a large swimming hole with a rope from a tree to swing out from. The track finishes at Leigh Rd.
Allow 40 minutes return or complete the loop by taking one of the roads back to Matheson Bay. Watch out for overhanging trees.
Trees – pohutukawa, rimu, totara, kauri and kahikatea. Birdlife in the bush includes kaka, kereru and fantails.
Matheson Bay History
Matheson Bay takes its name from brothers Angus and Duncan Matheson, who in 1857 arrived as part of the Waipu migration on the Spray. After settling at Waipu they and other family members moved the short distance to the bay that was later to bear their name, as it was a better location for their successful shipbuilding business.
An old anchor, recovered from the bay, is displayed on the hill to the east of the beach. Heavy mooring chains from boat building days lie across the floor of the bay and are often seen by scuba divers.