A visit to the Old Packhouse Market in Kerikeri

They bought an old pack house just outside the town when they realised it could accommodate their different dreams under one roof – Warrick's to showcase his swamp-kauri furniture, established artist Lee-Ann's to promote her work, and Judy's who had always wanted to set up a market. Another sister, Donna is the market's accountant and their father, Lindsay Hyland is also closely involved. This is how Kerikeri's newest Saturday market had its beginnings. In the revamped and remodeled packhouse the market opened last October to enthusiastic acclaim. Every Saturday morning from then on browsers and buyers crowd into the parking areas and dilly-dally through the indoor/outdoor market like flocks of foraging oystercatchers. This market is genuinely different – not just a pile of local produce and homemade jams, but a diverse mix of surprising products and creative crafts. The bakery on the premises was in full swing. Some locals apparently go to the market just to buy baker Keith's bread; others for the celebrated Packhouse pies. Behind a small table stood a wiry fellow with a baby possum in his shirt pocket and a feather in his cap. Tony is a taxidermist – a rare breed these days he told me, as I exclaimed over his stuffed rats and ferrets. In a booth next to him Israe Paraone, Maori master carver, was applying his skill. It's in his genes. He comes from an ancient lineage of carvers many of them women. Another artist displayed intriguing steel wind- sculptures. A candle maker presented a collection of waxy dragons and skulls. Ludbrook House offered tastings of their award winning dressings and drizzles, and in the adjacent stall were delicious looking cakes containing no gluten or sugar. Despite the deficiencies they tasted surprisingly good. And then I discovered the Italian Adrea Loggi, maker par excellence of Limoncello, liquor so superior the it has won six awards in the USA. I sampled his products twice and then floated past booths peddling whitebait from the South Island, mussel fritters, local wines, organic fruit juices, smoked fish, and Grinning Gecko organic cheeses. There must have been around 30 stalls undercover, and in tents, awning and caravans the same number outside. If you are cruising through Kerikeri on a Saturday it really is worth a stop. Jill Malcolm is a former editor of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations and author of the Great Kiwi Motorhome Guide.
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