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There are more than 50 farmers’ markets spread between Kerikeri in the North Island and Riverton in the South Island, so finding one is simply a matter of asking at the nearest visitor information centre. Here’s a selection of popular markets.
North Island farmers' markets
Whangarei: New Zealand’s first-ever farmers’ market opened "up north" in Whangarei about 10 years ago. Bright and early every Saturday morning, throngs of people arrive to buy fresh food directly from the producers. Most shoppers arrive between 6.30am and 7.30am, although the market is open until 10.30am.
Bay of Islands: Not far from Whangarei, a more gourmet style of market can be found every Sunday morning in the Bay of Islands town of Kerikeri. As well as all the usual fresh fruit and vegetables, this market is known for artisan foods. Look for locally roasted coffee and fantastic preserves. Sub-tropical fruit grows up here, so jams, jellies and chutneys are particularly interesting.
Matakana: This country town is east of Warkworth, on the way to Auckland. With vineyards and olive groves in every direction, it offers a more sophisticated version of New Zealand country life. The farmers’ market, held every Saturday morning, is the place to try delights such as organic spiced hot chocolate and Puhoi cheese. Also look for crafty items, such as aprons and tea towels printed locally.
Oratia: On the edge of west Auckland, Oratia market in Parrs Cross Road is open Saturday 9am to noon. Special treats include organic ice cream, Maori potatoes, chocolate truffles and wicked dessert sauces. You can also learn how to make sausages, mozzarella cheese and camembert.
Parnell: Almost slap bang in the centre of Auckland city, Parnell’s French-style Farmers’ Market happens every Saturday and Sunday morning, as well as Wednesday afternoons. It’s a great place to bring your appetite - enjoy paella, French cheeses, amazing smoked sausages, wild duck salami, fabulous cakes and much, much more. You can easily walk to this market from the central city.
Hawke's Bay: Held at the Hastings showgrounds every Sunday, rain or shine, all year round, the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market showcases some of the region’s finest products all straight from the producer. Wander around the market, listening to live local music and discover the diverse range of products grown and produced in Hawke’s Bay. There is no fresher place to shop for a wide range of local foods.
Porirua: One of New Zealand’s most colourful communities, Porirua is a short drive north of Wellington. The local market starts early (5.30am!) and it’s all over by mid-morning. Food stalls sell curry and roti, chop suey, banana pancakes and many other Asian-Pacific treats. Entertainers play to the crowd; evangelists preach salvation; Pacific Island crafts people sell beautiful basketry. Porirua is never dull!
South Island farmers' markets
Blenheim: Held on Thursday afternoons until September, and then on Sunday mornings for the Spring/Summer seasons, the Marlborough Farmers' Market reflects the area’s sophisticated wine and food culture. Local flavours to enjoy include wild game from the Marlborough ranges, greenshell mussels, hazelnut products, locally-grown saffron, organic salmon and flavoured oils. Under Blenheim’s bright blue skies, it’s a picnic-style celebration of flavours.
Waipara: Waipara Valley Farmer’s Market is in the heart of a wine-growing region, so it’s another artisan food paradise. Based at Pegasus Bay Winery and positioned next to a beautiful lake, this market happens every Saturday morning during summer months. Local specialities include olive oil, home baking, pies, swiss bread, fresh fish and lamb.
Canterbury: Along Scenic Route 72, which traces the western edge of the Canterbury Plains, there are two farmers’ markets to discover - Oxford and Methven. Both run on Sunday mornings during summer; Oxford also runs in winter. The plains are a major growing area, so vegetables and fruit are fresher than fresh.
Ohoka on Friday morning, all year round, in the tree lined Ohoka Domain is a bustling popular market with over 30 stallholders, with many visitors enjoying the huge variety of fresh produce from the countryside area, just north of Christchurch.
Rangiora: brand new in June 2011 is the Rangiora Farmers Market on a Sunday morning held in the centre of the town in the Waimakariri District Council carpark, right next door to Vistoria Park. Already being very well supported by both stall holders and visitors, this market is set to become a key weekend attraction for locals and visitors.
Otago: Situated in the car park of the historic Dunedin Railway Station, the Otago Farmers Market has up to 75 vendors present every Saturday morning, vendors all passionate about the product they have grown, raised, made and prepared. Features of the market include Havoc Pork, Who Ate All The Pies, Organicland (organic beef, veal and lamb), Evansdale Cheese, Indigo Bakeries, Basecamp (wild salami), Blue Water Products (fresh fish) and the Otago organic Group (organic herbs and vegetables).
Riverton: The historic Southland settlement of Riverton hosts New Zealand’s most remote farmers’ market. Held every Saturday morning from 10.30, it sells foods produced within a 50 kilometre radius. You’ll love the organic ice cream and gourmet sausages.
Want to find more markets?
For a complete list of New Zealand farmer’s markets, visit the FMNZ website www.farmersmarkets.org.nz.