The Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market is the original growers’ market in the area. You’ll find it in the car park outside the Post Office, off Hobson Avenue in Kerikeri. (It’s just across the road from Cathay Cinemas.)
The market is there every Sunday, rain or shine, from 8.30am to 12 noon.
(There’s also a market run by the same organisers in Paihia, on the Village Green, on Thursday afternoons: 2pm to 5.30pm.)
The focus of the Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market is fresh, local produce
Most of the stallholders grow their own produce, and the focus is on fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables.
“Local” covers growers throughout the Far North – some stallholders travel a long way to be here each week!
And if something’s in season, chances are you’ll find it at the Farmers’ Market – usually freshly harvested and bursting with flavour.
I really enjoy exploring all the different varieties of fruit. You’ll find so much more choice here than in any supermarket. For example, I can’t recall ever seeing so many varieties of plums at the supermarket as pictured below.
Another perk of shopping at the farmers’ market rather than the supermarket, is that you’ll find produce that’s out-of-season in the supermarket. (Weird, right? Normally you’d expect the supermarkets to have things all year round, either imported or refrigerated – but that’s not always the case in New Zealand.)
Take for example strawberries. My Auckland friends tell me they haven’t been able to buy strawberries anywhere since shortly after Christmas. Yet we’re still able to buy strawberries at the market in April! And they are grown right here in Kerikeri – and they’re fresh and field-grown, picked the day before the market. And they are totally yummy and flavoursome!
I visit the Bay of Islands farmers market (and also the Kerikeri Saturday market at The Old Packhouse) every weekend – I buy as many fruit and veg as I can at the markets.
As well as noticing all the different varieties of fruit and veg, sometimes you’ll also discover something you’ve never seen before. Today’s surprise was NZ-grown pineapples! Normally they’re all imported from warmer climates, so this was a real surprise.
And being a farmers’ market, I was able to ask the growers a little bit about this fruit. For example, did you know that it takes a pineapple plant 2 years to grow a fruit? And each plant only bears one fruit. That’s a loooong wait for a fruit!
Sometimes you’ll see things and wonder, “what on earth is that for?” For example, I still haven’t figured out whether the garlic flowers are for eating or for ornamentation!
Another favourite stall is Mahoe Cheese. You can sample the different cheeses to find your favourites.
Sometimes you’ll also find some food to eat at the market. Over summer, the blueberry ice cream caravan was very popular! They also sell fresh blueberries from their orchard.
The photo below gives an idea of the variety of stalls at the Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market. The stall in the foreground sells orchids and bromeliads. Next to them is a local Limoncello producer, who has won international awards for the quality of their lemony liquor. And the blueberry ice cream caravan is next to them.
The Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market is dog friendly!
Yes, you can bring your four-legged pal along to the market with you. (Note that The Old Packhouse Market on Saturdays is not dog friendly.)
Speaking of The Old Packhouse Market, what’s the difference between the two markets?
Something that my friends often ask me is, “what’s the difference between the two markets?” People assume that because they’re both in Kerikeri, the markets are both the same. This isn’t the case.
- The Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market is on a Sunday. The Old Packhouse Market is on a Saturday.
- The Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market aims to be an authentic growers’ market, whereas The Old Packhouse Market doesn’t have this aim (though many of the stallholders there are growers).
- The Old Packhouse Market has some permanent, dedicated buildings, whereas the Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market consists of gazebos in a car park.
- There is a wide range of ready-to-eat food at The Old Packhouse Market, but not so many options at the Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market.
- You will see that some stallholders are at both the Saturday and Sunday markets – but many only go to one market. So don’t assume that something you see at the Saturday market will be at the Sunday market, and vice versa.
- There are lots of arts and crafts at The Old Packhouse Market. There are none at the Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market itself, but sometimes there are a few art and craft stall across the road (near the cinema).
- The Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market is dog friendly, but The Old Packhouse Market isn’t.
I’d encourage you to go along to both markets and check them out! They are very different to each other, and I personally really enjoy both of them.
For more information, see: http://www.bayofislandsfarmersmarket.co.nz/
Note: The photos for this blog post were taken over a number months, not just in one visit. I want to show you a range of the type of produce available.