Local markets are a fantastic way to experience a wide range of locally made food and arts and crafts, but perhaps more importantly for visitors, it’s about soaking up the community atmosphere and getting to meet some of the down to earth, passionate characters that make the Bay of Islands so unique and welcoming.
And it’s a great family day out!
There is a great selection of craft and farmers markets that offer a genuine taste of the Bay (quite literally) in Paihia and Kerikeri. Taste test artisan delights, grab local produce you may not be familiar with (try NZ kumara, shellfish or taro), chat to the local food producers and growers, reflect on what artists are trying to achieve in their work and just get a genuine feel for this gem of a destination.
In this article we highlight what each market offers, and we also mention some other top picks in wider Northland if you’re willing to head out of town and explore.
So, come rain or shine, grab your cloth tote bag, some cash, and head on down for a freshly roasted espresso coffee. It’s time to meander and chillax, and get your artisan shopping fix.
The advantages of shopping at a farmers market
Whether they’re cheesemakers, vintners, bakers, watercolor painters, or doo-daky makers, artisan producers are proud of their wares – and rightly so. Their goods are made with the personal touch, sometimes with extreme effort and quite simply, love.
For the buyers, this contributes to high quality goods. Plus, let’s be honest, the “hand-made-direct-to-the-customer” concept is often forgotten these days thanks to big business and all the lines of distribution. So it’s great to do something that’s more community focused, and gives you that wholesome feeling of handing over your hard earned dosh directly to hard-working individuals as opposed to big corporations.
Plus, it’s an awesome place to find unique souvenirs and trinkets to take home. We’re sure you’ll agree it’s always special to be able to see people’s faces light up if you gift them something found at a market – especially something from the other side of the world. And you can even say you met “Betsy from Paihia, who made it herself” – perhaps with a selfie to prove it.
To cater to foodies there are the fresh, delicious artisan foods that you can often taste-test. Cooks, chefs, and bakers will do their best to showcase local ingredients at their finest.
Pickles, cheeses, fresh breads and pastries, cakes, and kombucha are all within close reach, with the aroma of fine coffee beans roasting. You can’t beat it before you packed full day of adventure, or lazy summer day at the beach.
And buying local fruit and veges direct from growers has the advantage of being cheaper and much better for you. Loads of producers in the Bay of Islands adhere to organic and sustainable growing philosophies, and everything will have been picked fresh – so it’s tastier and packed with more vitamins.
Best markets in the Bay of Islands
There are some standout farmers markets we would recommend visitors flock to when here in the Bay, and a couple that focus specifically on arts and crafts for collecting those special souvenirs to take home.
It’s worth making time for all of them in your travel schedule should time allow.
The Old Packhouse Market, Kerikeri
All year round
Saturdays 8am – 1:30pm & Sundays 9am – 1:30pm
Packhouse Building, 5 Kerikeri Road
Kerikeri is a quaint, bustling town set around a beautiful inlet, that’s only 20 minutes drive from Paihia.
This market is one of the most celebrated artisan markets in New Zealand in terms of size, quality of goods and services, and good ol’ fashioned community atmosphere.
Even if you pop down for a coffee and nothing else it’s worth it for the people watching, and to take in the aromas (pies just out of the oven and fresh baking), and to get a genuine insight into the region.
Here’s a promo from the market organisers:
The product you’ll see showcase the industries here, such as agriculture and fishing, and the art and local personalities reflect the philosophy, culture and ‘vibe’ that makes the Bay so unique and attractive. There are over 100 stalls on a busy Saturday in summer.
Not only will you be able to source fresh local (often organic) fruit and vegetables, but you’ll find cool vintage clothing, second-hand jewellery, stylish jewellery from local designers, relaxing massage services, plant nurseries, craft beer (there’s a brewery on site), talented sculptors and potters, and even clairvoyants if you’re game.
There’s smoked fish and shellfish to take away or eat that will melt in your mouth, including mussels, oysters and whitebait. And loads of other delicious artisan foods and drinks to trial.
If you haven’t been to Waitangi Treaty Grounds to experience evening’s cultural entertainment and a hangi dinner, try a hangi here at the market. A hangi is a traditional Maori meal (usually root vegetables and pork or beef) smoked in the belly of the earth.
We would recommend putting aside a few hours to explore the stalls, sample goods, and just relax listen to some live music. Local winemakers are here too. Don’t worry if it’s only 11 am – a cheeky Pinot Gris is acceptable when you’re on holiday, right?
If you’re here for the markets, you should also read our blog on what to do, see and eat in Kerikeri, to help fill your afternoon. This small town is a mecca for history lovers and some of the most beautiful walks in the Bay of Islands.
Highlights that are close to the markets are Rainbow Falls, the stunning and easily accessible waterfalls (best in autumn and winter), and Rewa’s Village for an insight into historic Maori life and early European settlement.
Bay of Islands Farmers Markets – Paihia & Kerikeri
The team behind this farmers market organisation are a ‘not for profit’, that have established two great markets in Paihia and Kerikeri with the ethos to reconnect the food on your plates with its origins.
They believe that farmers markets are on the cusp of a social change all to do with localisation. Suppliers are all local and all put heath and quality above profits. So it’s a pretty great philosophy to support.
Paihia Farmers Market
All year round
Thursdays 12pm – 4:30pm
Marsden Road, Paihia
Set up on the village green opposite the Maritime Building, you can’t miss this market when it’s on especially in the heart of summer.
There is often a local band playing which gives sipping delicious coffee and gathering some food for a brunch picnic at the beach, an even cooler experience.
The market is more about showcasing culinary delights as opposed to arts, crafts and gifts.
There are loads of organic fruit and vege options, as well as some food trucks, and those making condiments like oils, pickles and jams.
Many local organic growers will have certifications which they will proudly talk you through.
Turns out there are some talented bakers and chocolatiers in this area – so it’s potentially dangerous for those on a strict diet!
Check out our listings for more.
Kerikeri Farmers Markets
All year round
Sundays, 8:30am – 12pm
Hobson Ave, Kerikeri (Post Office Car Park)
Many locals avoid the crowds at the Kerikeri Packhouse on Sundays and come here for their fruit and vege groceries instead – although if you’re a tourist we recommend you check out both! It’s an easy walk.
Paihia Art & Craft Market
All year round
Only on days that cruise ships come in – get the schedule here
9am – 4pm
Marsden Road, Paihia
If you head to the main Paihia Farmers Market or the Kerikeri Old Packhouse Markets you could catch some of the same sellers, but if your focus is arts and crafts as opposed artisan foods it’s probably worth prioritising this one.
This market was originally set up to cater to overseas visitors who had just docked on large cruise ships that frequent the area. There was demand from these travelers for local souvenirs and gifts and meaningful trinkets to take home. Now it’s become popular amongst all visitors to the Bay of Islands, and even locals.
Many people like to do their souvenir shopping at both this market, as well as the established souvenir shops in the area.
Think soaps, balms and moisturisers, all with naturally sourced and often organic ingredients, beautifully packaged. A highlight is the Pounamu available, otherwise known as greenstone, that is used by Maori as jewelry and is still carved in a traditional way by local carvers and jewelers. There are traditional bone carvings to be found as well.
Local artists and craft makers use local products to make great gifts, like possum fur and local wood, or seashells.
Other farmers markets in Northland
There are couple of mentionable farmers markets in wider Northland we’d like to share with you as well. Perhaps pop into one of these gems on the way back to Auckland, if that’s where you’re headed.
Tutukaka Twilight Markets
Fortnightly from Saturday 19 January
5pm – 8pm
This eclectic evening market features a range of Northland artists, artisans, producers and services.
The Tutukaka Coast is rated in the top 3 coastlines in the world, so it’s worth a visit – especially on a warm, summer’s market day.
Right on your doorstep, there’s access to the Majestic Poor Knights Island, a snorkelling and paddling paradise. The Tutukaka Marina is a hub of activity with shops, restaurants if you want to explore after wandering the markets in the early evening.
Check out their Facebook page for details.
Waipu Boutique Sunday Market
All year round
2nd Sunday of every month
9am – 1pm
Waipu Coronation Hall
The Waipu Boutique Sunday Market was founded in 2008 by a group of proud, passionate locals keen to showcase the high quality of art and craft produced in Waipu and around New Zealand.
But today, it’s not just a craft market – there is a charming cafe with yummy espresso coffee and an amazing selection of freshly baked savories and cakes. They’ve got live music and a great atmosphere amongst fresh fruit and vege produce and other culinary mouth-explosives.
Waipu is a growing area with heaps of young families. There’s a real buzz in the air in this stylish country town. Plus there’s a great surf beach right around the corner.
It’s a great option to pull off the main highway to Waipu, and just take the “long way” back to Auckland around this coastline.