© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

A Classic Kiwi Sunday at the Farmers’ Market

© NZPocketGuide.com

258 Days on the Road

It’s Sunday in New Zealand and all across the country are Kiwis are buying their wears, pigging out and listening to some live music at their local farmers’ market. It’s more than just a couple of stalls with people trying to sell carrots. Its an event! So we figured we can’t go 365 Days doing 365 Activities in New Zealand without visiting a farmers’ market. The Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market is the longest-running one in the country, so that seems like as good of a reason as any to go check it out!

The event of the week!

Farmers’ markets in New Zealand usually occur every Saturday or Sunday in the morning. For Hawke’s Bay, it’s every Sunday from 8.30am to 12.30pm, so we leave our accommodation at Archies Bunker in Napier somewhere around 9am so we can show up fashionably late. (Not that anyone would care anyway). It’s a 20-minute drive along the coast to the neighbouring town of Hastings where the event takes place in the A&P Showgrounds.

Like we said, the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market is quite the event, which is made obvious to us with plenty of road signs shouting: “EVENT!” as we make our way closer to the market. Cars are slowly making their way in and out of the showgrounds complete with parking wardens to show us where to park. It’s a well-oiled machine where we find parking quickly, it was just an illusion of chaos.

A musical entrance

We step out of our car to the sound of a violin playing. As we get closer to the entrance, an experience violinist is outshining a child sat opposite him on the ukulele. However, he does stop for a second to see if we are enjoying our time in New Zealand. (Yep, with all our cameras, we looking like the biggest tourists!)

Let’s start with the free tastings

The grassy section that the market is occupying is lined with trees, making the market appear charmingly natural. Stallholders circle around with the trees making it easy to know where to start: to our left and going clockwise. The first stall we come to is a cider stall offering free tastings of their craft cider in delightfully decorated Art Deco bottles. (As we found out yesterday in our Art Deco tour, nothing screams “Napier” like Art Deco).

Too many temptations at the bakery stall!

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From cider stalls to mounds of bread

But that’s not the only alcoholic tastings to start you off on a morning, we also pass a couple of wine stalls and a craft beer stall. Kiwis love making their own beverages, as there is around 160 microbreweries in New Zealand alone. We don’t know the statistics on wine-making, but especially in the Hawke’s Bay region, which is nicknamed the “Fruit bowl of New Zealand”, we’re guessing there are a few.

It’s not just the Kiwi produce that gets us excited though. A bakery owned by a German has the most impressive selection of breads and pastries. We’re talking stacks and stacks of bread here! (And we all know that Germans make the best bread… Don’t tell France that). When we come back to the stall a bit later, they are even well on their way to selling out.

Muesli, cheese, chocolate, black pudding and more!

As well as a few food trucks selling the likes of bacon butties and paella, there are a few surprises in artisan produce along the way. We come across a business selling delicious muesli. Although we already had breakfast, we got ourselves a muesli bar to keep us going. Then we continue trying the “original” salami made with figs and topped with blue cheese (melt-in-your-mouth amazing, by the way), some unique chocolate bars like cayenne and cinnamon and lemon chocolate. We try cheeses, salamis, black pudding, jellies, jams, vinegars, peaches… So many good stuff!

A cheap and cheerful foodie experience in Hawke’s Bay

When it came to buying stuff, unfortunately we already have a cool bag in the fridge back at the hostel full of fresh food. But there are some pretty good deals on fresh vegetables and fruit here, either cheaper or matching supermarket prices. At least if we bought from here, we can be helping businesses a bit more directly. Nevertheless, we do treat ourselves to a real fruit ice cream made with blueberries, which we enjoy while listening to an acoustic guitarist strumming out easy-going renditions of popular songs. We also get talking to a farmer who owns a sheep farm, telling him of our attempts to shear sheep back in Oamaru. Good times.

With the satisfaction of having a foodie experience in Hawke’s Bay without spending too much money (NZ$4.50 for an ice cream and that’s it for the day!), we head back to the car for the drive back to Napier.

A walk along Napier waterfront

We have the whole afternoon to enjoy by working until the evening comes around and we decide to head for a stroll along the beach. Like we said yesterday, Napier is a good looking town, which spreads out onto the waterfront. A walkway is squeezed between the stony long-stretching beach and many different parks, gardens, golf courses, pump tracks, water fountains, sculptures and whatever else. It makes a pretty and easy-going walk for discussing all life’s mysteries.

Tomorrow, we are going to be finding out more about the New Zealand culture in a Maori tour. Join us then!

A mandatory real fruit ice cream break at the Farmers Market

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