So many visitors, from New Zealand and abroad, pass through Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, heading north in the summertime. And there’s a little gem, the picturesque and leafy green village of Puhoi only a short drive north of Auckland, tucked away just off the main highway. It has some award-winning food, and a character that takes you back in time.
The village sits on the banks of the Puhoi River, and its name harks from that river… Puhoi meaning unhurried waters. And a green calm does prevail at the picnic spot on the banks of the river, time for a coffee from the General Store across the road, and to take in a measure of local tranquility.
A Bohemian settlement
Looking around, it is clearly a settlement steeped in history, with obvious heritage character. The first Europeans, Bohemian (now Czech Republic) immigrants to New Zealand in the 1860s established the then very isolated settlement we see today. It is, with the French settlement of Akaroa in the South Island, one of only two European ethnic historic villages in New Zealand.
Churches, the general store, and the famous hotel have origins linking back to these Bohemian settlers. The very gracious looking hotel is one of New Zealand’s remaining classically colonial hotels, and was borne out of the original isolation of the area - a local gathering spot was an obvious requirement, after the daily toils breaking in the land.
There is even more to this place than its fascinating history. Head a little further up the winding country road into the valley, to see European settlor traditions continue with cheese-making.
At this cheese factory, store and cafe, there's an inspiring range of dairy products, and many cheeses kept at perfect temperature for tasting before you buy. On the right days, you can look through and see the cheese-making underway, and peek into the impressive looking cheese cellar.
Be sure to try the 2016 Champion of Champions, the Kawau Blue. And, of course, there’s ice-cream and other cafe options to indulge in.
Keeping it local, we left with the champion Kawau Blue and Pakiri blue - both referencing beautiful nearby locales. And there's nothing better to remember a lovely summer's day in the sunshine in a gorgeous rural valley than a fresh salad, with blue cheese and summertime berries, click here for more.