There’s something magical about spending a weekend morning at a Farmers Market - browsing the stalls with coffee in hand, taste testing and purchasing locally grown and crafted produce.
Not only are Farmers Markets an enjoyable experience but there are also a host of other benefits for both the buyers and producers, including support for small communities, demand for their products, increasing awareness of sustainable agriculture and better awareness of where our food comes from and what’s in it.
Due to the increasing popularity of Farmers Markets, if you’re a New Zealand local there’s bound to be a market in your town or city. However, if you’re stuck for ideas or you’re a visitor, give these a go – they’re on the top of our list due to their great location, high quality products and beautiful surrounds.
1. Matakana Farmers Market
The Matakana Farmers Markets is an Auckland institution – in fact, if you ask most “Aucklanders” what to do in Auckland, you can bet that Matakana is near the top of their list and for good reason! Not only is it a small 45-minute drive from Auckland City, it is also home to great surf beaches, nature sanctuaries, snorkelling, fishing and diving, wineries and more.
Every Saturday in the heart of the Matakana Township is where the Farmers Market is held. Delicious produce and homemade goodies fill each stall, including locally grown fruit and vegetables; handcrafted cheeses; raw juices, smoothies and snacks; smoked fish and meats; baked goods; oils, nuts and spices; wines and ciders; and a good selection of hot and cold meals to eat at the market or to take home. Of course there are also several high quality coffee stalls and a few boutique retail shops surrounding the market that sell clothing, books and homewares.
While you’re there: Spend the entire day in the Matakana region. Start your day perusing the markets and then make your way to one of the beaches close by. Depending on the time of the year, you could either pack a picnic (your takings from the market perhaps?) and simply enjoy the region, or if it’s warmer, be sure to take your togs and spend the rest of the day swimming, surfing or snorkelling.
2. Parnell Farmers Market
Contrasting to the rustic Matakana Farmers Market, the Parnell Farmers Market is inspired by the food markets found in France and is only a 5-minute drive out of Auckland City. Metro Magazine has also voted this market as Auckland’s best for 8 years straight.
Needless to say, this market is brimming with top quality products. On offer is a selection of hard-to-turn-down French delights including crepes, pastries and bread but there is also a range of other food products from local and overseas producers. Take your pick from homemade paella, fresh pasta, baguette sandwiches, bagels, Italian cheese, Turkish dips and oils, smoothies and juices and more.
Unsurprisingly, loyal locals and many tourists keep this market packed, so it is busy most weekends. To avoid the rush, visit the market when it opens (8am) or around midday.
While you’re there: Parnell is centrally located, so there is plenty to find and do in the area. Close-by is the Parnell village, which is home to a number of upmarket clothing and homewares stores, as well as cafes, bars and restaurants. The Parnell Rose Gardens are also an easy stroll from the markets. Newmarket - another popular shopping precinct - is approximately a 5-minute drive from Parnell and includes many main street brands, plus a few from well-known designers. And for the perfect indoor activity for those wetter and colder days, the Auckland Museum is a five-minute drive from Parnell and will keep the entire family entertained for an afternoon.
3. Hawkes Bay Farmers Market
A road trip to Hawkes Bay may not necessarily be high on your to-do list, however the small, yet friendly area, has its own unique sights and attractions worth a visit.
Hawkes Bay is known for its “Mediterranean climate” and therefore has many excellent vineyards and wines on offer. You can find some of these wine producers at the Hawkes Bay Farmers Markets such as one of the regions oldest wineries, Vidal Estate.
Also at these markets is a vast selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, so fresh it looks as if they were picked that morning, as well as meat, eggs, pickles, preserves and much more, all lovingly grown and crafted by local sellers. Visitors can also enjoy fresh coffee and a choice of breakfast and snack options whilst listening to live music.
This market is relaxed, traditional and friendly and boasts that small-town feel. If you are staying in the Hawkes Bay, this is a must-do and is a great way to start your day and meet the locals. Alternatively, if you’re simply passing through the region, make a pit-stop! Market produce makes a great alternative to takeaways whilst you’re on the road.
While you’re there: Hastings and Napier are the two major cities in the Hawkes Bay region and although the population is small, there is definitely not a shortage of things to do and see. Those looking for adventure and excitement can experience quad biking, white water rafting, hunting, fishing and horse riding.
Foodies rejoice – Hawkes Bay is the second largest wine producing region in New Zealand. With over 100 vineyards and 80 wineries, there’s something to satisfy everyone. Available to visitors are wine and cycle tours at certain vineyards and many of the vineyards have beautiful restaurants worthy of a lunch visit. Brands you are likely to see in New Zealand supermarkets include Church Road, Esk Valley, Trinity Hill and Vidal.
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