Weekend wanderings in Kerikeri

By: Heather Whelan , Photography by: Heather Whelan


MCD travel writer Heather Whelan heads to the winterless north for a wander through Kerikeri

Kerikeri is our favourite place for a weekend break. We usually stay at the NZMCA park at Rainbow Falls: a great location, not too far from the town centre but with a rural vibe.

Kerikeri -2

The park backs onto an area of native bush and, once over the stile that leads from the campground, you are right beside the Rainbow Falls. The waterfall cascades 27 metres into a pool below.

A walking track goes from the falls to the Kerikeri Basin, home to the Stone Store and Kemp House. There are two good cafes here, well worth checking out. Alternatively, the Rainbow Falls Tea House Cafe is right beside the NZMCA park, and it serves breakfast, lunch, and morning and afternoon tea.

Kerikeri has some great shops to explore, but one thing we never miss is the Saturday market at the Old Packhouse. Here you can buy fruit and vegetables, local cheese, meat, bread, limoncello, and wine.

There are crafts galore, everything from gorgeous gourds to handmade hats. Tables encourage visitors to relax with coffee and cake while listening to live music. The Packhouse also has a Sunday vintage and car boot market, good for a browse.

The NZMCA park can get crowded at times, so if you prefer somewhere quieter, try Aroha Island. Accessed by a causeway, the island is a 12-hectare eco-sanctuary on the Kerikeri Inlet. There are bush walks, and kayaks can be launched into the sheltered tidal waters.

If you take the guided kiwi-spotting night walk, you have a good chance of seeing a North Island Brown Kiwi in its natural habitat. And if you’re feeling the cold, why not stop at Ngawha Springs for a soak on the way home?

Check out more places to see in Northland on NZMCD

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