Walk status: Off-lead
Despite the NPDC website clearly stating that Matekai Park loop track is off-lead, the council signage there would tell you otherwise with a clear symbol of a dog being walked on lead but don't let that put you off, its definitely off-lead. We've visited Matekai Park before, when we first came for our vacation before moving here but after heading out that way in search of a swimming spot for George to cool off, I thought we would stop here too to do a nice walk around the bush after his swim.
I find the easiest place to park is at the end of McKellar Street, but you can also enter the park from the main road on the corner of The Lookout or from Messenger Terrace. You can also add a walk on the beach to make it a bit longer as it only takes about 20mins to do the loop. The official rule for Matekai Park as per NPDC is as follows: The Matekai Park loop track goes from the main road down to the coast and loops back, and includes the beach. The area directly in front of the surf club between the motor camp entrance and Wairau Road is prohibited to dogs between 9am and 6pm during daylight saving time.
Parking up at the end of McKellar, the entrance to the park is marked with the council sign and a grass track leads you downhill and gives you the option of heading straight ahead or to the right. As its a loop, its really up to you which way you prefer to go. Following the track through the bush is mostly shaded, although id still avoid it in the heat of the day as there are parts of the walk that are more exposed. I also remember on our first visit it had rained a lot and the tracks were very muddy so come prepared if you're visiting in winter to get a little muddy.
You can choose to follow the complete loop around the park, add in the beach or vary it up by taking some of the tracks that split through the middle. You'll also find some hidden surprises like the tyre swing which is a fun edition for the kids.
Now a word of warning if your dog has a mind of their own when it comes to smelling a rabbit, they roam pretty freely here. We got pretty close to a few before they took to hiding in the bush and although George gets excited by them, he doesn't tend to take it any further than a few sniffs in their direction. However if your dog is a full bunny chaser then you could lose them to the rabbit hunt so just be mindful of the presence of them here.
Matekai Park is a fairly short walk, only taking around 20mins to do a full loop but its a easy flat walk which makes it a great one to take the kids or grandparents on. There are many opportunities to stop and admire the recent planting efforts establishing more native trees and the wildlife that call this place home.