Our recent summer holiday saw us doing a huge roadie around parts of the North Island (i.e. Rotorua-Masterton-Wellington-Napier-Mahia-Cape Runaway-Rotorua-Napier-Rotorua. I lost track of how many kilometres we travelled. At last count it was over 2000km in 10 days. It’s been great from the perspective of the stunning scenery, tip top weather and catching up with friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s ended up being a summer holiday I’ll remember for crayfish, gourmet salads, fantastic coffee, craft beer, lots of giggles and good books. I read for a large chunk of the roadie. I am extremely grateful to be able to read in the car: No travel sickness has ever been experienced by this wanderluster!
Anyway, last weekend, on our last few days of holiday we ended up in my hometown of Napier and we boosted it to the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market. Wow. So wow in fact, I took a heap of photos on my trusty Samsung S7 to share with you. Out of all of the things we saw and did on holiday, this was one of the best experiences. And I’ve been to this market plenty of times.
What’s so good about the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market? The array of fresh, local, gourmet and artisan produce on sale. The location too adds to the overall great vibe, it’s nestled in the trees which makes for a stunningly beautiful setting. The kids can even feed the ducks! The sellers are more than delightful to talk to, they will jump at the bit to talk about their produce because they care about it so much. I talked to so many farmers about how they grow their crops and what equipment they use, I wasn’t expecting to learn so much about ‘Rotary Hoes‘ as I did! I’ve been to lots of Farmer’s Markets around NZ, this one, for me, is ‘up there’ with the French Market in Parnell and the Nelson Farmer’s Market.
In terms of variety, there’s loads of stalls and, in fact, it’s one of NZ’s largest Farmers Markets. Incidentally, it’s also one of the longest running. You can kind of tell that though – it’s superbly organised. Put it this way, this is the only market I’ve been to where the rubbish stations are manned with someone who directs you to the appropriate rubbish or recycling bin. Flash eh? It’s also the only market I’ve been to where there’s a kids corner: There was a colouring-in competition happening when we were there.
What I ate
My choice of food last weekend was the Paellagogo stand. With their enormous paella dishes, the crew were busy whipping up all sorts of potato-based concoctions. I was partly delighted by this stand as I lived in the Moselle region in Germany for six months when I was on my OE, and this way of cooking was a regular feature at our village’s local summer parties. I had potato with mushrooms and haloumi. It was delicious and I could have gone back for seconds.
Alas, after that, my ‘other window’ was craving something sweet and naughty, so The Boy and I visited the Monsieur Macaron stand. The Boy got a chocolate macaron, I got a coconut chocolate number. They were the bomb. In chatting with the stall holders I was delighted to find out that these legit French gents supply Rotorua’s French Cafe with their macarons (I kinda wish they hadn’t told me this).
Next stop was to quench my thirst and I had no appetite to join the masses for coffee, so I trotted off to the Hapi stand. Hapi’s Hastings Street store in Napier is already one of my ‘must visit’ haunts when I’m home, so I knew I was in for a treat. I bought a Hawthorne Cold Brew Nut Mylk. This is an ice cold, dairy-free drink. Made from activated organic nut, this offers a good nutritional hit. I need to find out who makes these in RotoVegas. Amazing. I’m sounding like a broken record.
After that? We rolled home, via the Hohepa stand to get some haloumi and feta to take home. Hohepa feta should win awards (it probably does). I never visit the Bay without buying a stash to take back to RotoVegas!
Sun, amazeballs food, great music, it’s an award winning combination and by now you should have caught wind that I reckon this Market is a must visit. If you are visiting Hawke’s Bay, prioritise a trip to the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market on Sunday morning. Hell, plan a trip to the Bay just to go to the market!
Location-wise, you’ll find all of this goodness it at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds (Kenilworth Road) in Hastings every Sunday 8.30am – 12.30pm. There’s an abundance of parking, ATMs and toilets.
A couple of tips
- If it’s a hot day, and lets face it, the weather is usually glorious during a Hawke’s Bay summer: BYO water. There’s only a few stalls that stock it which is annoying. We ended up with a little boy who was getting upset because he was so thirsty and we simply couldn’t find water for sale. Finally we decided, flag the water, we’d get him a juice. So we joined the juice queue. After ten minutes queuing for a juice, we discovered they sold water too. Good work juicing stand.
- Don’t skimp on sunblock. The good news is that there is an abundance of tree shade from the trees, as well as carefully situated marquees and umbrellas, but preparation is the key. At this point I should do a shameless and un-sponsored plug for my No.1 sunscreen, Skinnies.
- Be prepared for a big wait on coffee. The coffee stands do a roaring trade and there’s often big queues. I knew from experience that this would be the case, so we grabbed a coffee en-route to the market in Clive. We love BOX Espresso Bar (next door to BP, it’s a shipping container). Note, the day we visited the market was #nextlevelbusy… It’s not usually so crazy busy with such a big wait.
- Bring a bag for all your stuff as you won’t be going home empty-handed. I ended up buying so much that I ran out of room in my handbag. This saw me buying a cute Farmers Market jute bag, which wasn’t a bad thing. Great souvenir at $15. I wish I’d bought a tea towel too. Next time ($10).
Have you been to the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market? Any other markets that you recommend?