It is impossible to visit Kerikeri, an idyllic town in New Zealand’s ‘winterless north’ without paying homage to two of New Zealand’s oldest landmarks.
Built in 1821 for the missionary John Butler, The Kerikeri Mission House (also known as Kemp House) is the oldest building in New Zealand.
Standing next door is the 1832 Stone Store, which is the country’s oldest stone building and also the oldest surviving commercial building.
It was originally built to house mission supplies and store wheat then became a kauri gum trading store and from 1929 the Kemp family ran it as a general store.
The Mission House is the sole surviving building from the turbulent Musket Wars of the 1820s (a period when Maori used the muskets introduced by Europeans to fight each other in tribal feuds.)
Wwhile both the House and Stone Store have survived more than their share of serious flooding caused by the rising of the nearby Kerikeri River.
Both of these buildings can be visited and are filled with treasures and stories from their notable lives.
But Kerikeri has more to it than these historic buildings.
Its warm climate is the perfect backdrop to visit our other ‘top 5’ picks:
Rewa’s Village – learn a little about the Maori heritage of the area with a visit to this recreation of an 18thcentury Maori fishing village constructed in the traditional way with native materials
Food and wine – make sure you sample the local products including organic wine and coffee and some very delectable chocolates. Look out for the Sunday Farmers’ Market
Maunginangina Scenic Reserve - take advantage of one of the few wheelchair accessible forest walks in Northland and appreciate not only the majesty of the ancient Kauri trees but also the flora and fauna the forest supports
Rainbow Falls/ Fairy Pools- walk along the Kerikeri River bank to the spectacular Rainbow Falls. The river is also home to the Fairy Pools, a sheltered swimming spot with water warmed by running over the heat-soaked river bed
Arts and crafts – visit the studios of some of the many artists who have chosen to base themselves in Kerikeri. Look out for the work of internationally renowned sculptor Chris Booth
Air New Zealand flies between Kerikeri (the major airport in the Bay of Islands region) and Auckland connecting it with 25 other destinations on its domestic network. For information and to book flights to the Bay of Islands visit www.airnewzealand.com