There's no doubt about it: New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world. However, the stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, buzzing cities and a rich cultural history mean the South Island and the North Island are both places not to be rushed through.
So why not slow the pace a bit? We've taken two of our favourite road trips and found our favourite Farmers' Markets in New Zealand en route, so whether you're on North Island or South Island, we recommend you park up your campervan, buy yourself some locally produced produce and a fresh coffee, sit back and soak up all the NZ has to offer.
Twin Coast Discovery Highway
If you find yourself on the North Island, we'd suggest trying going as far north as possible from Auckland up towards Whangerei, known as the 'winterless north'. The journey, typically known as the
Twin Coast Discovery Highway , can be taken in up to five days and is a 751 kms trip.
Start in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. Auckland mixes a contemporary urban vibe with forest walks, abundant marine life and tasty wine trails so it's easy to spend a few days here and still not run out of things to do.
Unsurprisingly, Auckland hosts a number of different Farmers' Markets.
La Cigale French Farmers' Market is held both days of the weekend at St George's Bay Road- an easy destination for city-dwellers. Whilst the majority of the food is French, there is a little bit of everything if you're catering to fussy eaters. However, you'll be hard pressed to beat a delicious almond croissant and fresh coffee as you watch the rest of the world pass by.
On Sundays, head to towards the Grey Lynn Community Centre for their weekly
Farmers' Market. As well as dangerously tempting custard tarts, apple pies and walnut loaves, there is also take-home curries, pakoras and tamarind chutney for those looking to balance out the sugar with a little bit of spice. Aside from this, the community runs regular workshops on topics such as gardening, preserving and more. The eco-friendly market is committed to being plastic bag free and even has a stand dedicated to waste reduction, which includes string bags and keep cups. For a taste of the country amidst a thriving city, check out
City Farmers' Market, held every Saturday on Gore Street, come rain or shine. Tasty salads, artisan desserts, Turkish breads and Argentinian empanadas are some of the delicacies on sale, to name but a few.
Once you couldn't possibly eat anymore, drive over Auckland's Habour Bridge and head towards the bays and beaches of Auckland's North Shore.
Stop off in Waiwera on your way to Whangarei: the hot springs have made this little seaside town famous.
Upwards, you'll drive through Dome Forest and Kaiwaka. Consider taking a detour at this point past the mesmerising beaches of Mangawhai Heads, Langs Beach and Waipu Cove.
At Whangerei, you'll find an array of cultural attractions: art galleries, museums and cute cafes. Make sure you also make time for Whangarei Falls, blissful waterfalls surrounded by native flora and fauna. If you're passing through Whangarei on a Saturday, enjoy a coffee, listen to buskers and pick up fresh fruit, veg, cheese and preserves from
Whangarei Growers Market – perfect fresh ingredients for a picnic stop en-route back towards Auckland.
Southern Scenic Route
If you're on the South Island, why not head along New Zealand's most southerly points to get a flavour for everything on offer?
The Southern Scenic Route is a journey that takes you via deserted beaches, breathtaking mountain vistas and incredible rainforest. The route itself can be very easily tailored to however long you need it to be. Some might be on a tight schedule, which would mean the trip between Dunedin and Te Anau, a three day long, 660 kms trip. However, if you have a little more time to play with, try taking a few more days to continue up to New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown.
When it comes to our efforts to find NZ's top Farmers' Markets, the Southern Scenic Route has the best of the best on offer –as well as plenty of other cultural attractions to try out along the way. We're starting in Dunedin, where
Otago Farmers' Market is held every Saturday. 65 vendors from all over the province make up this bustling market, with fresh fruit locally sourced from Central Otago and berries and veggies from the Taieri plains. Picturesque Dunedin is a great place to enjoy your market findings- the area is brimming with impressive Victoria architecture. Walk off lunch by wandering around the historic buildings and extravagant churches. From Dunedin, you'll head through The Catlins, a fantastic glimpse of rural New Zealand. Jump out your campervan to get a taste of waterfalls, golden beaches and staggering native rainforests. This coastal stretch is home to a host of marine life, so keep a look out for penguins, sea lions and dolphins. At Curio Bay, marvel at the 180 million year old Jurassic Forest- one of only three accessible Jurassic Forests in the world.
From here, wend your way down to Invercargill, the South Island's most southerly city where the famous
Southern Farmers Market gives you a chance to stock up on something a bit different: try yams, pumpkins, potted herbs and old fashioned fruit loaves. If you're not around on a Sunday when these markets are held, don't stress: Invercargill is known for being a hub of delicious food- local food specialties include Bluff Oysters and Blue Cod.
From the commercial hub of Southland to one of New Zealand's oldest settlements, stop off at Riverton on your way up round to Te Anau. Sitting just on the tip of the South Coast, Riverton can not only boast that it is home to New Zealand's most southerly
Farmers Market but also that it is New Zealand's only 100% organic farmers market! In fact absolutely everything comes from within a 75 kms radius. As well as the obvious- organic fruit, organic meat- you can also get your hands on organic ice cream and coffee. Delicious! As you carry on up to Te Anau, stop off at Manapouri at the edge of the Fiordland National Park. Just twenty minutes away from Te Anau itself, Manapouri has a number of different local walking tracks so take the opportunity to hop out the car and stretch your legs whilst enjoying the blissful surroundings. Te Anau itself is a great gateway town if you want to make a detour to Milford Sound. Sat at the base of Fiordland National Park, Te Anau's weekly
Farmers' Markets are held at the Fiordland Community Centre on Sundays until 3pm. Although they're brimming with quality produce all year round, these markets are especially popular at Christmas and Easter when stallholders travel from all over Southland to set up a stall at these prestigious markets.
Before carrying on up towards Queenstown, make sure you make Lake Te Anau a must see: the largest of the southern glacial lakes, soak up the sight of magnificent forestry and mountains surrounding the lakes.
Your way up to Queenstown will be a beautiful one: lakeside vistas and rugged mountain ranges – The Remarkables - will mean there will be plenty of photo-opp stops en route. Queenstown itself is the destination of choice for adrenaline junkies, filmmakers, wine lovers and people looking for gold. If you've got time, spend a couple of days taking in this lake and alpine resort.
If you're around on a Saturday, check out the Farmers' Market. On the corner of Church Street and Camp Street, this market is packed with artisan produce, organic meats and an array of mouth-watering oils, honeys and preserves.
Once you've filled up on brunch at the Queenstown Farmers' Market, why not check out a different kind of market? Check out the Creative Queenstown Arts & Crafts Market on the pretty waterfront setting of Earnslaw Park. Local artists displaying their talents with the accompaniment of live music and a stroll along the waterfront is a charming way to burn off your earlier breakfast.
Whether you're in the most northerly north of the North Island or the most southerly south of South Island, combine adventure and exploration with a little indulgence and relaxation, and support local communities with our favourite NZ Farmers' Markets.