In Kerikeri you can dip into New Zealand history, browse art galleries and enjoy fresh local produce. This town is full of character, charm and flavour.
The Northland town of Kerikeri has a long, colourful history. The area was home ground for the fearsome Maori chief Hongi Hika, who terrorised many tribes throughout the North Island in the early 1800s. Yet he was kind to missionaries, allowing Samuel Marsden to establish New Zealand's second mission station here.
The Kerikeri Mission Station, also known as Kemp House, is New Zealand’s oldest standing European building. Built to house the Reverend John Butler in 1821, this elegant wooden home has the protection of the Historic Places Trust.
Nearby is the Stone Store, which dates back to 1832 and is New Zealand's oldest stone building. Designed by Wesleyan missionary John Hobbs and built by an ex-convict stonemason from New South Wales, the store was meant to house large quantities of wheat from the mission farm at Te Waimate. When the wheat failed, the building was used as a kauri gum trading store.
The terraced pa site, Kororipo, sits above the Kerikeri basin. It was once a stockaded fortress, but not in European times. When the missionaries lived here in the early 1820s, it was the site of an unfortified village where some of Hongi Hika’s people lived. Today the pa site is protected by the Department of Conservation.
The road leading into Kerikeri is bordered by orchards. Roadside stalls offer the chance to buy seasonal fruit - the surrounding area is famous for producing delicious citrus fruit. Look also for signs showing the way to artists’ studios; resident potters and painters have given this district a creative personality.
The town itself is full of galleries, cafés and gourmet food shops. For nature lovers, the 10 minute walk to Rainbow Falls offers the chance for a picnic amid native bush and birdsong. There are plenty of good places to stay - so feel free to linger a while.