Written by Mary Rean
Farmers markets are springing up in many neighbourhoods in and around Auckland, with locals enjoying the opportunity to pop along, shopping bag in hand, and fill their cupboards from a mouth-watering selection of fresh, seasonal fruit, vegetables and other produce.
Often, this produce is sold by the people who are growing or making it, and they are happy to share their secrets for the best way to cook and eat their wares. Many people also find it an enjoyable, relaxing way to do the weekly shopping, often snacking on freshly made food and coffee as they wander about.
Some markets are exclusively devoted to artisanal foods and fresh, seasonal produce, and others have extended their scope to include bakery items, preserves and other cooked and ready-to-eat products. While many markets stick to local produce, others specialise in international themes such as French, Asian or Polynesian foods. Some markets have expanded their repertoire to include more craft items, bric-a-brac, clothing and jewellery.
We have put together a selection of regular markets, from the many dotting Auckland’s suburbs, to a few suggestions of others that are a little out of town that could well be worth a visit – where you could combine a day out at a nearby beach or park and pop in to pick up your picnic fare at a market on the way.
Auckland City Farmers’ Market
Even those of us who live or work in the centre of Auckland now have access to good, fresh, seasonal produce. The Auckland City Farmers’ Market in Takutai Square, Britomart, offers fresh produce in the heart of the city. This market, operated by the same people who started Parnell’s La Cigale French market, brings together a collection of local growers who sell fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, eggs and meat as well as artisan breads, hand-made pastries, local and international speciality cheeses and condiments. While some produce changes with the seasons, other tasty treats are available all year round. Several stalls are set up to tempt all comers with freshly cooked food such as French crepes and Kiwi mussel fritters. Or you can grab yourself an almond croissant and freshly brewed coffee, and sit down on the grass of Takutai Square to take in the local sights and enjoy the entertainment – music played by Britomart FM’s DJs. Here’s a useful tip: parking for market customers is just $6 at Britomart car park, but make sure you get your ticket validated at the market before returning to your car.
Saturday: 8.30am-12.30pm at Takutai Square, Britomart
Parnell Farmers Market
The Parnell Farmers Market has been operating for the past 11 years just about every Saturday— rain or shine— behind the Parnell library in the Jubilee Building car park on Parnell Road. It’s packed full of regular farmers’ market fare including fresh produce, meat, flowers, bakery and deli produce from the more than 30 weekly stallholders, and there’s quite a community atmosphere. All food sold here is produced locally and the vendors are all involved in growing or producing what they sell. You are likely to find treasures that are generally hard to find, such as multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes, handcrafted cow’s milk cheeses or smoked mozzarella. There’s little likelihood you’ll be leaving this market hungry – there are plenty of treats to eat and drink as you wander round making your purchases. Or you might choose to join one of the free workshops being run on subjects such as composting, organic gardening, raising chickens and beekeeping. What’s more, there is free parking available for shoppers in the Foundation Precinct.
When: Saturdays 8am-12noon at 545 Parnell Road, Parnell
La Cigale French Markets
The inspiration for the La Cigale French Markets in Parnell originally came from the local food markets found in all small towns throughout France — and although here many of the stalls sell quality products from New Zealand artisan producers and growers (think fresh cherries, plums and blueberries), plenty of other stalls offer visitors a tempting array of international foods from specialist Moroccan and Mediterranean delicacies to fresh pasta and sauces made using authentic Italian recipes. Fill your bags with fresh produce, fresh breads and pastries still hot from the oven, French cheeses, export quality meat, fresh fish, salads, Italian salamis and sausages, olive oils, honey, pates, jams, chutneys, flowers, and more. Find a spot and join one of the long communal tables to enjoy a takeaway coffee and pain au chocolat, or something a bit more substantial, like a Croque Monsieur or plate of freshly cooked paella. For keen cooks, every other week a knife sharpener makes an appearance with his rotating wet stone. And the good news is there is heaps of free parking close to this market.
When: Saturday 8am-1.30pm & Sunday 9am-1.30pm at 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell
Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market
For Grey Lynn locals their Farmers’ Market is a meeting place where they can stock up on fresh produce, listen to live music and catch up with friends. Some indoor space offers protection on bad-weather days and there’s a friendly, relaxed vibe, a coffee cart and a few food trucks. Stalls are packed with locally produced artisan foods, including free range eggs, local honey, kombucha, nut milk, fresh juices, specialty cheeses, artisan olive oil, meat, fish, homemade pies, bread, pastries, and certified organic fresh produce. A community table sells produce from community and home gardens, including seasonal and, sometimes, rare or uncommon fruit and vegetables. From time to time there are workshops including gardening tips, cooking lessons, sauerkraut fermentation, sustainability and permaculture workshops, cycle repair, a pop-up rat trap shop, and recently, business incubator seminars on establishing a small food business. The market has a focus on sustainability with the aim to become a zero-waste market — you won’t find plastic bags here, and all rubbish is sorted and composted or recycled.
When: Sundays 8.30am-12pm at Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn
Takapuna Sunday Market
If you are a very early morning person, the Takapuna Sunday Market, which seems to have been part of the area for as long as anyone can remember – about 25 years – is likely to be designed for you. Every Sunday from the six in the morning, the car park along Anzac Street converts into a little tent city as stallholders arrive with their wares piled in their vans and set up their tables. After a flurry of activity, the car park is transformed, with myriad stalls stacked high with fresh, organic produce, cheese, bread, pastries, bunches of flowers, as well as clothing, jewellery, crafts and furniture created by the people of the neighbourhood, bric-a-brac and of course, any number of ready-to-eat food stalls. You can take your pick food wise, there’s all manner of international options to fill you up after an early start, from French crepes, Chinese dumplings, Vietnamese pho or Indian dumplings to Hungarian flatbread. Live music is a great addition to the generally buzzy atmosphere.
When: Sundays 6am-12pm at 17 Anzac Street, Takapuna
Mt Albert Markets
Mt Albert does the whole market thing a bit differently – it offers locals a street food festival that starts at 5pm on Friday night and becomes a farmers' market from 9am on Saturday morning. So, on Friday nights, a little part of New North Road turns into a street food station with a variety of food trucks serving anything from traditional favourites to international and fusion cuisine. Choices are likely to include authentic Italian pizza, Mexican tacos, Hapunan, Peach's Hot Chicken and Judge Bao. There’s also a licenced bar with organic wines and craft beers. Then, the following morning, the street food station turns into a farmers' market where people can enjoy the wafting aroma of coffee beans brewing on the side while they pick out their fresh produce for the week from among the stalls. Among the delicacies you’re likely to come across are gourmet sausages and pate, spray-free fruit and vege, quality cuts of meat and premium local cheeses. There’s also produce from an organic bakery, free-range eggs, smoked salmon, Mediterranean delicatessen items, crepes and fresh flowers.
Street Food Station: Friday 5pm- 9pm at 847 New North Road, Mt Albert
Farmers' Market: Saturday: 9am-12.30pm at 847 New North Road, Mt Albert
Titirangi Village Market
The Titirangi Village Market began in 1991 as a school fundraising event for the Rudolf Steiner School in Titirangi and it now has over 130 stalls of arts, crafts, produce and information, and is an integral part of the heart and soul of Titirangi culture. It’s easy to wile away the morning listening to live music from some of Auckland's best folk musicians, as you sit in the cafe and sip on organic coffee. The market has both indoor and outdoor stalls and is held in rain or shine. Locally grown and produced olives and olive oils, handmade farm cheeses, salamis, sausages, hand-crafted chocolates, and gluten- and dairy-free baking are among the edible offerings and crafts range from merino clothing to handmade jewellery, items made from Kauri, clothing and bags made from vintage and recycled materials and natural handmade soaps, shampoos, creams and lotions. Although this market is open monthly from February to November, it also holds an extra market on the second Sunday of December and a special Christmas market on the third Sunday of the month.
When: the last Sunday of each month (February to November) 10am-2pm at Titirangi Memorial Hall and carpark, 500 South Titirangi Rd, Titirangi
Clevedon Village Market
Clevedon, in rural South Auckland, has been home to the Sunday Village Craft Market for over 20 years. While this market is more about local arts and crafts, there’s also a big range of fresh foods to choose from as you meander around. Stalls are piled with freshly baked breads and pastries, freshly made jams, sauces and chutneys, and there’s also a good range of spray-free herbs ready to use. Reasonably priced, home-baked morning tea and light luncheon food is available to enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea in the dining room, or pack it into the car if you’re heading to one of the local beaches at Maraetai or Kawakawa Bay for a seaside picnic. Craft stalls vary from week to week, but include jewellery, wood carving, garden art, metalwork, leatherwork, toys, dog covers, new and vintage ladies’ clothing, antiques and collectables, art work, ceramics, pottery, cards, baby clothes, embroidered linen, herbal remedies and creams, soy candles, lavender products, pre-loved collectible books, designer accessories and scarves and sheepskin slippers.
When: Sundays 10am-2pm at Clevedon Community Centre, 1 Papakura-Clevedon Road (north end of main street at the roundabout)
Clevedon Farmers’ Market
Close by is the Clevedon Village Farmers’ Market, which opened its gates in 2005 to provide a venue for growers and producers to sell quality, fresh, locally grown produce directly to the public. The market offers a farm gate to table experience, giving visitors the opportunity to meet growers and learn more about their food. Each week the around 60 permanent and seasonal stalls are a popular destination for both locals and visitors, who enjoy the market's rural setting and its relaxed, friendly atmosphere. As well as fresh fruit and vegetables, you’ll also find meat, shellfish, fish, poultry, cheese, yoghurt, pickles, preserves, small goods, sauces, baking, bread, eggs, confectionary, wine, juice, plants and fresh flowers. Whether you’re here in time for breakfast, brunch or lunch, there are also plenty of treats to choose from as you wander around and, of course, freshly brewed coffees. Live music adds to the atmosphere and, if you have children, they’ll love the pony rides — and little packs of handmade fudge.
When: Sundays 8.30am-1pm at Clevedon Showgrounds, Monument Road (Gate 6, Munro entrance), Clevedon
Catalina Bay Farmers’ Market
Catalina Bay Farmers’ Market, at Hobsonville Point, is the new name for the old Hobsonville Farmers’ Market, and it is held three times a week by the water in the heart of the new Hobsonville Point development. Much of the market is held under cover, so it’s ideal to visit when the weather is looking a bit iffy. The focus is on local artisanal produce, breads, organics, coffee, gifts, and more. As you wander around listening to the live background music, you can enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and a bite to eat from the variety of food vendors, buy your fresh produce for the week or just browse through the stalls displaying handmade items. You might be tempted by Zeki’s delicious Turkish Pide Bread made using traditional methods or some of the honeys, honey vinegars, handmade salves and natural beeswax food wraps from Earthbound Honey, a sustainable artisan beekeeping business in the Bethells Valley, northwest of Auckland. There’s plenty of parking close to the market.
When: Friday 11am-7pm, & Saturday/Sunday 8.30am-2pm at Hudson Bay Road Extension, Hobsonville Point
Matakana Village Farmers’ Market
About an hour north of Auckland is Matakana, an attractive little village that’s bursting with charm. The lynchpin of the village is the Matakana Village Farmers’ Market, on the banks of the picturesque Matakana River, and, on a Saturday morning, it’s bustling with growers and shoppers alike. Get up early and enjoy a delicious breakfast as you wander round inspecting the variety of fine food fare and fill your bags with fresh produce for the week, while being entertained by live local music in the background. It’s hard to walk past the French crepes or the galettes — savoury buckwheat pancakes filled with free-range ham, melted cheese and egg! The market is a showcase for the passionate artisans, growers and farmers in the Matakana region. Choose from fresh produce like fruit, vegetables, artisan baking, Italian sausages, organic chocolate, flowers, fine wines, olive oil and locally roasted beans. And the market is zero waste; so remember to bring your own baskets or bags.
When: Saturday 8am-1pm Market Square, 2 Matakana Valley Road, Matakana
Waiheke Ostend Market
If you’re planning a weekend to Waiheke Island, be sure to arrive in time for the Waiheke Ostend Market. Whatever the weather, it goes ahead, with stalls both inside the hall and outside on the reserve. Start off by popping inside for Roast Waiheke coffee and a toastie or scone. The market stocks a great range of local products including award-winning olive oils, tamarind chutney, tasty olives, organic breads, and honey as well as a variety of skincare products. Or you can choose from international food including an array of Turkish sweets and savouries, Argentinian BBQ, pizza and burgers, Hungarian fried bread and gourmet sausages. You will also find a great selection of gluten-free and vegan food and drink options. If it's jewellery you are after, there are a number of new or vintage stalls that may catch your eye, and local author Mark Sommerset may be there selling his award-winning children's books. You might even pick up a few good bargains up one of the second-hand stalls. Bring bags for your goodies, as this is a zero waste market. The local bus goes from the ferry through Ostend or you can park nearby.
When: Saturdays 8am-1pm at Ostend War Memorial Hall and Reserve, 76 Ostend Road, Waiheke Island