Picture a clear autumn morning. It’s the perfect setting for an outing to the Clevedon Coast, known for its wonderful oysters, and a chance to pick up some other great produce - a bucket of parsley and salad greens - for the weekend ahead.
For a stunning mini-break from daily life (a morning, or longer), and the chance to enjoy some of New Zealand’s really great food, find your way to Clevedon-Kawakawa Road, and here’s what you’ll uncover…
Off to rural Clevedon
About 40 minutes from the centre of Auckland, you are completely out of urban buildings and motorways, and immersed among the dew-covered green pastures of rural Clevedon. It’s a hugely satisfying shift in scenery - not to mention one that is surprisingly close to the central city you have left behind.
And the fabulous oyster shop
Before long, you’ll hit the bustling rural Clevedon village, before turning down the road that takes you to straight to the source of the premium Clevedon Coast Oysters. A shop, located on Clevedon-Kawakawa Bay road, sells these seawater delights. You cannot miss it - there are plenty of signs, and a large iron ball - a now retired buoy, we found out - in the grass right by the road.
For many years now, the oysters have been grown in and harvested from the waters of the Hauraki Gulf - which lap at the coastline only a short distance from the shop.
With a jumbo-sized dozen to hand for a slightly unconventional brunch, it’s a very short drive around to the entrance to Waitara Regional Park, and only a minute or two further to Kawakawa Bay. Both are spots for wonderful views, and tranquil surrounds - and a great place to gaze at some of the Hauraki Gulf islands scattered in the sea in front of you… Waiheke, Pakihi, Karamuramu, and Ponui.
If au natural is not your thing, on many days the shop also offers the option of a cup of freshly made oyster soup - which can be a perfect midmorning or lunchtime brew, especially as the autumn days cool. With piping hot soup, you will get to Kawakawa Bay in perfect time to start sipping.
For even more scenery, there are plenty of picturesque rural roads to roam. Around those parts, keep your eyes peeled for the famous (and first to New Zealand) Clevedon Valley buffalo. These rather solid creatures are the source of some outstanding buffalo mozzarella, and you might be lucky enough to chance a sighting.
Herbs and produce
On the way back, just before hitting the village, take a quick detour up McNicol Road. In only few minutes drive, on your left, you’ll come across a great old barn, and a sign happily revealing its purpose: “fresh herbs and veges".
Fresh is best!
And fresh indeed it is. Clevedon Herbs & Produce sells a great seasonal selection of spray-free or organic herbs and veges. There’s the farm gate option - a gazebo outside the barn has the day’s offerings, and an honesty box operates if no-one’s there. (In weekends you can find them at local markets.) If you are organised, you can order online beforehand, to ensure what you want is available for pickup.
With supplies dwindling at home, a big bucket of parsley and some healthy fresh spinach was in order, with another autumn salad in mind. To try our fragrant autumn parsley and green salad idea, click here.