If you are anything like―"I hate supermarket shopping, especially when travelling. I like to buy fresh local produce from the different regions that we travel through". Lucky for me, I have discovered some fabulous Markets scattered around the country where local producers take their wares to sell.
If you're into organics, many of the stallholders in NZ have certified organic produce available. From fresh fruits and veggies to gourmet cheeses and sauces and from nuts to wine and paddock to gate meat, for sure you'll find plenty of mouth-watering goodies to fill your cupboards with. In fact, all kinds of artisan foods and crafts are everywhere.
So, with your campervan, explore around NZ and pop by some of my favorite farmers market―in no particular order.
Whangarei Growers Market
Schedule: Sat 6 am till 10 am
This Northland beauty is of special significance as it's a growers market, meaning all the produce must be grown and processed by the stallholder. Having these criteria means you are getting your produce straight from the source guaranteeing its freshness. Northland is a specialty growing area for Kumara or Sweet Potato as its indigenously known. These sweet delicacies are incredibly expensive at the Supermarket so take advantage of being able to buy straight from the grower. With buskers to entertain and food stalls as well, this is an early morning delight for those that like to rise early.
Matakana Village Farmers Market
Schedule: Sat 8 till 1 pm
Set in the picturesque village of Matakana―a mere hours drive from Auckland―is this delightful market full of goodness. The stalls are built into this barn-like complex, adding to its charm. And with great coffee on hand and a dog minding facility on sight, these make it a popular market. For the traveller, you will often find local oysters to sample as well as Buffalo Burgers, if you fancy a taste of something different. Personally, I can't go past the Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with all the dipping sauces from Viet Q Foods.
Otago Farmers Market
Schedule: Sat 8 till 12: 30 pm
Deep in the South―more famous for its Scottish heritage and Southerly gale―is the market town of Dunedin. Housed in the car park of the very imposingly grand Dunedin Railway Station, this market is guaranteed to be on no matter what the weather. Luckily, the porridge man will be there to warm the cockles of your heart for those blustery mornings. It's just a great southern banquet of local produce and artisan products, but for me, the highlight is when the Central Otago stonefruits are in season and my bags overflow with the juiciest apricots and peaches and plums. Once a year, we make the pilgrimage here just to stock up on such delicacies.
La Cigale Market
Schedule: Sat 8 till 2 pm, Sun 9 till 2 pm
With a typically french title, one can only assume what French goodness lies beneath and one would not be wrong. If you are a little homesick for European delicacies, then you will feel right at home here. The owners have definitely paid homage to their love of France, from the clothes to the food to the furniture. My favorite stall being the wonderful Pattisserie Amandine inside, baking all kinds of delicious pastries and little cakes. Adding to the atmosphere of the market place is the joyous cry from The Anatolia Kitchen, asking you to please try some of his many Middle Eastern delights.
Wellington Harbourside Market
Schedule: Sun 7: 30 till 2 pm
Before or after catching your ferry to the South Island, be sure to stock up your cupboards from this wonderful Harbourside market. You are spoilt for choice here with truckloads of producers vying for your custom. Unique to this market is being able to buy wet fish straight off the boat's tied up at the wharf. You simply can't get fish as fresh anywhere. With all the food stalls, you won't go hungry here in Wellington―and for sure, your cupboards shouldn't be bare.
Schedule: Sat 8 till 1 pm (Hamilton), Sun 8 till 1 pm
In a sleepy hollow of The Waikato, home of Champion New Zealanders, is the rural town of Cambridge. In the centre of town opposite the Isite, you will find this quaint little market with great coffee. I highly recommend the Volaire Bakery for its fantastic array of artisan bread and pastries. With fresh fish from the Raglan Harbour and The Lettuce Man selling $5 bags of combination lettuces and assorted greenery, as well as many other great stallholders, my market bag is never empty. This market is part of a wider Waikato Farmers Market, which also has a market on Sunday mornings in Hamilton at The Claudlands Event Centre.
Hawkes Bay Farmers Market
Schedule: Sun 8: 30 till 12: 30 pm
Quite possibly the largest and quite possibly the best is the Hawkes Bay Farmers Market. Being outside in summer and inside in winter means that whatever time of year, you are travelling this market can be enjoyed regardless of the weather. With free entertainment provided, this market is more than just a market―it's a morning adventure spent eating and drinking and listening to music. With Hawkes Bay known as the Fruit Bowl of New Zealand, you are always able to pick up the juiciest stonefruits in summer or the crunchiest apples in winter. My husband has an obsession with The Hohepa Cheese stall and I'm sure he samples more than we buy. I can highly recommend their Danbo. A close second for me is Maud and Harry's Walnut Stall, with Harry handing out tasty morsels of Walnut Brittle for you to try.
Schedule: Sat 8 till 1 pm
Wow, this banger of a market has been running for over 40 years―and it's truly a banger! Nelson is not just a growing area but it's renowned for its craftspeople, and what the Nelson Market provides is a place where the growers and the artisans and the craftspeople can all come together to sell their wares. It's fantastic arty kind of atmosphere with loads of quirky stalls and clever craftsmanship, as well as the freshest local produce and yummy food stalls, make this a must-do. Great for that true kiwi souvenir to add to the suitcase.