“The view from here, with the dappled light through the trees, is just too good not to share,” says Rachel. “Warkworth is a day-time town so it made sense to offer lunches, and now local businesses can discover us as well.”

For Rachel and Matt Macfarlane, the Wharf Street Bistro is about creating a space that radiates peace and comfort, and somewhere they can make heart-warming food with care. They’re big on creative cuisine and good ingredients so food for the restaurant is sourced locally whenever possible.

“We get our meat from Warkworth Butchery, the oysters are local, and we grow our own herbs. I try to come up with seasonal cocktails too, depending on what fruit is available. I’m thinking up something to do with guavas and feijoas at the moment,” she laughs.


When they opened Wharf Street Bistro, 18 months ago, Rachel and Matt set about building, rather than buying, what they needed in the restaurant and using upcycled materials to achieve the atmosphere they were after. The tradition of do-it-yourself began with Rachel’s parents. “My father was a handyman who could build anything. And my mum was a baker, sewer and general handywoman too.” The overall effect is an accumulation of the couple’s creativity and experiences from years of hospitality-based travel.

Rachel has been very active in the local hospitality area since the family moved here over three years ago, managing and revamping the restaurant at Brick Bay, and managing the outfit and launch of the restaurant at Sawmill Brewery. At the same time, she was launching Wharf Street and being mother to two children. Yet it all seems to sit comfortably on the shoulders of this astute businesswoman.

Long term, Matt and Rachel dream of opening a boutique wilderness resort that really showcases the best of what New Zealand has to offer. “We worked at a high-end glamping resort in Canada and it was just wonderful. We’d love to do something like that.”

For now, though, Rachel is concentrating on Wharf Street and bringing to fruition their full vision for the bistro. She would like to see Warkworth become a food and art hub for the area, particularly as it goes through its projected growth spurt. “I’d like to run a Wharf Street Bistro boat on the river but that’s just a bit of a dream at the moment. I have a different crazy plan every week.”