It’s a bustling, semi-rural, and (the day we visited) splendidly sunny town. Thanks Kerikeri, we really liked the very warm welcome, literally. And it’s surely that almost tropical warmth that explains the orchards and market gardens lining the roads as you make your way into the township. Yes, this must be Northland’s fruit and vegetable paradise.
It's just that nice
Kerikeri is Northland’s largest town. It bears a Māori name, the exact origins of which seem a bit uncertain. But we did smile at the expression that the place is so nice, that it was named twice. Yes, we’d agree, it sure is just that nice.
It’s also home to many historic New Zealand buildings. Like the Stone Store, the oldest stone building in New Zealand still standing. Just across from it is Rewa’s village, constructed to faithfully recreate a kāinga - an unfortified Māori village - as it would have existed prior to European arrival. And there’s the Mission House too. It was built for the European pioneering missionaries, the oldest standing wooden structure in the country.
And some food history...
On the produce front, Kerikeri takes out quite a few historical firsts too. The first place grape vines were planted, the first citrus plantings, the first passionfruit, and the first avocados. And, apparently, the place the plough was first used in New Zealand
With this kind of heritage, there’s no doubting that here, in the town and very nearby countryside, you’ll find fabulous produce galore. There’s a lot to choose from, and it’s nice to be spoilt for choice.
But it is not just a vegetarian’s dream. You’ll also find a great butchery and deli, boutique chocolatiers, a honey shop with a giant beehive, macadamia orchards, cheesemakers, wonderful hand-made jams, chutneys and condiments, and the impressive Saturday market, the largest farmers market in the region.
Stop in at a truly gorgeous orchard, a blueberry fan’s idea of heaven. If pick-your-own is closed for the season, there's still fresh made blueberry ice cream (dairy and coconut options) available. And it’s always the right time for a bit of ice cream… Being a blueberry business, it’s a seasonal operation - but one definitely worth a visit on a late spring, summer or early autumn adventure.
Cheese, yes please
And follow the leafy green drive to a rural cheese treasure indeed. It's a family business, a small herd of cows are farmed and milked right there, beside the cheesery. It’s one real artisan operation, turning out some stunning award-winning cheeses.
And coffee, of course
There are plenty of coffee places and, in kind weather, you can find great coffee spots boasting cicada surround-sound. There’s nothing like your morning flat white, with a serious dose of cicada hum, to get you off on the right foot.
And, when it’s finally time to move on from this special spot, here’s some very easy ways to keep enjoying the spoils of the winterless north. To try our super simple Kerikeri salami canapés, click here. And you could follow that up with delicious Kerikeri marmalade chicken.