The perfect base to explore everything Northland has to offer but a holiday destination in its own right too!
BEST THINGS TO DO IN KERIKERI, Northland, New Zealand!
- Kerikeri is the largest town in Northland, New Zealand. The Bay of Islands Airport is located here and it is the commercial centre for the Bay Of Islands.
- Kerikeri is absolutely perfect as a base to tour everything Northland has to offer! It is a modern town but rich in history and a holiday destination in its own right with so many interesting and unique things to do and places to see!
1. Let’s start with- Designer Chocolate & Delicious Gelato!
You simply cannot visit Kerikeri without stopping off at Makana Chocolate Factory & Chocolate Cafe and sampling some of their first-class, hand-made chocolates, unique confectionary (Macadamia Caramel Corn!), and wide range of gelato!
There are two sections. The Chocolate Factory and the Chocolate Cafe! In the Chocolate Factory, you can watch the chocolate team creating delicious goodies, taste a sample and check out the range of chocolates, biscuits (the Chocolate Dipped Macadamia Shortbread is a top seller) and gift packs.
Alongside the Chocolate Factory is the Chocolate Cafe. There are so many temptations here. Check out the dessert and pastries cabinet! Try a made-on-the-premises gelato. The most difficult problem will be deciding which flavour to select!
2. DO A KERIKERI WINERIES TOUR & TASTING
Kerikeri with its subtropical, warm, wet, and mostly frost-free climate has half a dozen vineyards with cellar doors featuring some unique local wines and some great restaurants! We suggest you take a day and design your own tour visiting some, or all of the following vineyards, and sampling their award-winning and unique locally made wines. Check the opening hours especially if you’re visiting in the winter.
Kerikeri is the oldest wine-growing area in New Zealand. New Zealand’s first vines were planted by Samuel Marsden, New Zealand’s first missionary, in Kerikeri 200 years ago.
In the late 1800s, the Croatian gum diggers introduced their viticulture and winemaking traditions and there are now half a dozen established vineyards in the area producing award-winning wines that are well worth sampling.
Two of the vineyards have restaurants- Ake Ake Vineyard which is open for lunch and dinner 6 days a week, and Marsden Estate which is open for breakfast, and lunch. Plan your vineyard tour to include a lunch or dinner at one of these vineyards.
AKE AKE VINEYARD
At Ake Ake Vineyard the grapes are certified organic. Popular wines here include Chambourcin (only grown in Northland) and a variety of red wines, roses and port.
Try their interesting “Orange Wine”-Flora grapes fermented with the skins for two weeks then barrel aged for 10 months. Slight chocolate aromas with apricot, orange and herb flavours and a nutty finish!
There is a very pleasant self-guided walk through the vineyard with signboards providing information about the grapes and the vineyard.
The Mediterranean-style restaurant is in a beautiful location overlooking the gardens and lake! A beautiful setting to sit back, sample a few wines, and enjoy a long leisurely lunch. Fresh produce is featured and sourced from around the Kerikeri area.
Other vineyards with Cellar Doors in the area that you might want to include in your tour are-
FAT PIG VINEYARD
The Fat Pig Vineyard is one of the older vineyards in the Kerikeri area. This place oozes rustic, down-to-earth country charm. The cellar door is a rustic and rural round tin shed. Wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown on the small 3-acre property. As well as wines they also grow Avocadoes, Macadamias, Olives and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.
KANUI ROAD VINEYARD-
Kanui Road Vineyard is a family-owned boutique vineyard and orchard with plenty of live events and concerts over the summer months.
Check out their facebook page for their weekly Kainui Cellar Door Saturday Sessions.
The cellar door offers delicious tasting platters and award-winning wines, and while you’re there try some unique craft beer? Take a stroll through the boardwalk which leads to a majestic waterfall. This 30 minute round trip is a great way to work up a thirst for some quality wine at the cellar door.
3. Kiwi spotting, Kayaking, & Weta-watching on Aroha Island Eco Centre
Aroha Island Eco Park is a 12-hectare island reserve about 10 km from Kerikeri township and a little piece of paradise connected to the mainland by a short causeway. It is open to both day visitors and holidaymakers. There is an interesting Information Centre and some good walking tracks or you can hire a kayak to explore the mangroves.
Holiday accommodation consists of a three-bedroom house with a great inlet view from the large front deck, two bush cottages -Aroha Tui Cottage and Aroha Fantail Cottage- and a beach or bush campground area with 30 campsites (8 powered), half of which are on the waterfront.
Aroha Island provides a haven for the North Island brown kiwi and other native birds. If you stay on the island overnight you can go on an after-dark self-guided kiwi spotting tour. You will find details of the latest kiwi locations at the Information Centre.
Aroha Island offers a unique ecological experience. The Aroha Island Charitable Trust has initiated conservation projects to preserve this open space as an asset to be shared with present and future generations including predator trapping programmes, tree planting and solar energy projects.
4. HISTORICAL & CULTURAL SITES IN KERIKERI
KERIKERI MISSION STATION with THE STONE STORE, KEMP HOUSE & a 200 year old Pear Tree!
Kerikeri is rich in history. The Kerikeri basin area is culturally and historically one of the most important places in New Zealand. This is the area where Māori and Pakeha first met and lived, worked and traded together.
The most well-known historical site in Kerikeri is the Kerikeri Mission Station with the Old Stone Store, Kemp House, St James Anglican Church, and a 200-year-old Pear Tree. A short walk up the hill will take you to the Kororipo pa site which was once a fortified Maori village and was the home of Hongi Hika, a famous fighting chief. Over the bridge on the other side of the Kerikeri basin is Te Ahurea, an interactive pa site.
The Georgian-style Stone Store is New Zealand’s oldest stone building (1836). It was originally a Missionary Society Warehouse and stone was used because the missionaries needed a building that was vermin-free and fireproof to store their supplies and provisions.
It was also used as a mission library, barracks, boys school, trading post and general store. Today the ground floor still operates as a gift shop, while there is an interesting little museum upstairs.
Kemp House, also known as the Kerikeri Mission Station, was built by the missionaries in 1822 for John Butler and is New Zealand’s oldest building.
The Kemp family moved in in the 1830s and were there until 1974 and it was then gifted to the people of New Zealand.
Tickets for tours of Kemp House are available at the Stone Store.
St JAMES ANGLICAN CHURCH
200 YEAR OLD PEAR TREE
Liz Bigwood from the Kerikeri Mission said that “when the Māori warrior chief Hongi Hika granted European missionaries some land on the site of the Kororipo pā near Kerikeri back in the early 1800s, the first thing they did was plant food crops and orchards, including the now-elderly pear.
The venerable old pear tree is the oldest surviving exotic tree in New Zealand, and now entirely hollow but still going strong.”
You can see the hardy pear tree opposite the Stone Store alongside the Plough and Feather restaurant.
TE AHUREA / REWA VILLAGE
A pleasant walk up the hill from the Stone Store will take you to St James Anglican Church on its picturesque site overlooking the basin. It was built in 1929 and had a town clock which was later incorporated in the Stone Store.
It’s a tiny wooden church and has beautiful stained glass windows and a great sense of peace.
Take a walk through the graveyard. Of special interest are some of the gravestone inscriptions in the gateway, of soldiers who died in the Maori wars.
Across the water from the Stone Store and accessed by a footbridge is Te Ahurea, an interactive pā site that was formerly known as Rewa’s Village.
Te Ahurea invites you to meander around the village, wander through the native bush, experience the serenity of the gardens, enjoy the sounds of the native birds, listen to the tranquil waters of Te Awa o Ngā Rangatira (the river of Chiefs), and enjoy the picturesque surroundings of Kororipo Heritage Park.
The village looks back over to the Stone Store and Kororipo Pā, a terraced Pā site.
5. RAINBOW FALLS and the Waterfall Walks!
The Rainbow Falls are one of the most well-known attractions in Kerikeri and if you are limited for time you can easily take a look at them with a five-minute walk from the Rainbow Falls Car park in Rainbow Falls Road.
Better still- take the Kerikeri River Track from the Stone Store for a very pleasant one-and-a-half-hour walk on a well-maintained track and see the Wharepuke Falls too along the way. Click here for more information.
The photo above is of the Wharepuke Falls on the Kerikeri River Track to the Rainbow Falls.
However, there are three more stunning waterfalls in Kerikeri and they are all within walking distance of the town centre. Find out more here.
The Wairoa Stream track is about a one-hour return walk through some beautiful bush and swimming holes from the Stone Store and will take you to the Secret Waterfalls and the Te Wairere Waterfall.
Charlies Rock Waterfall is a very popular swimming hole for the locals in the summer and a very pretty waterfall. The walk takes about ten to twenty minutes from the Croquet Club on Landing Road.
FOR MORE DETAILS & INFORMATION ON THE WATERFALL WALKS
6. MARKETS & ORCHARDS
THE OLD PACKHOUSE MARKET takes place every Saturday and Sunday morning and features local farm-fresh products, artisan breads & pastries, a wide variety of “street” food, locally made arts and crafts, great coffee and live entertainment from local musicians,
At the Old Packhouse Market you will meet the growers, producers or makers and be able to chat with them about their products.
The BAY OF ISLANDS’ FARMERS MARKET is held in Kerikeri on Sunday mornings in the Post Office Car park. This is an Authentic Farmers’ Market, and a member of the Farmers’ Markets Association of New Zealand. This means that the members are verified as authentic growers and producers – everything that they sell is grown or made by the vendor locally!
Kerikeri with its warm temperate climate and soil is a great produce growing area for a wide variety of produce including citrus, kiwifruit, avocados, and blueberries.
Some commercial and home orchards sell directly to the public. Some have their own roadside stalls and some sell by an honesty box system. Make sure you have some cash with you! Fresh blueberry ice creams at the blueberry orchards are a very tasty treat.
7 . MAGNIFICENT KAURI TREES & THE NATIVE BUSH
MANGINANGINA KAURI WALK
We highly recommend this walk, particularly if you have limited time. This is just a 15-minute walk (one way) on a wheelchair friendly, mostly flat, boardwalk that gives a stunning experience of the towering magnificent kauri forest! There are plenty of placards along the way that provide information and a resting area in the centre to just stop and enjoy the beauty of the forest.
PUKETI & OMAHUTU FORESTS
This is one of the largest areas of native bush in Northland and there are plenty of options for exploring them.
THE PUKETI NATURE TRAIL is about a one-hour loop track suitable for children that leads you through the beautiful kauri forest with a chance to see glowworms if you go in the early evening.
THE KAURI STUMP WALK is just a ten-minute walk in the Omahuta Kauri Sanctuary will take you to the stump and head of one of the largest kauri ever felled in the Omahuta Forest.
For more detailed information go to-
8. PARROT PLACE
An unusual find in Kerikeri is The Parrot Place which has a bird park and pet supplies store. It is set in a small subtropical garden and showcases about 300 native and exotic parrots from all around the world.
You can take the Parrot Safari- a stroll through the aviaries. Some of the birds are caged and some are free-flying and you can buy a small jar of bird food to feed the birds along the way. There is a small playground and a picnic area.