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  • Day57

    Kerikeri

    February 5, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Kerikeri is small town, about 20 km from where we are, with a population of about 7,000. It’s been labelled the ‘fruit bowl of the north’ as just about everything grows here. As it’s located in one of New Zealand’s geothermal zones, the soil is very fertile. All types of citrus fruits, avocados, macadamias nuts, blueberries, strawberries, persimmons, tamarillos, apples, and all three types and colours of kiwifruit can be found growing in orchards.

    Kerikeri in Maori means “digging”, which fits with what the first missionaries would have seen when they arrived – local Maori out digging and turning the soil for replanting.

    Our first stop before Kerikeri was at the Makana chocolate factory. Once inside the shop the staff greet you with samples of their signature best-sellers. The shop itself is next to the factory with glass windows so you can see the chocolatiers at work creating more delicious handmade goodies. It is a week before Valentine’s Day, so all sorts of Valentine treats were being made.

    From here, we walked across the carpark to the Kauri Workshop, a functional wood carving shop. Visiting this shop was the highlight of our day! Petrified kauri timber is crafted into tables, toys and even pens. The owner and his assistant were happy to chat about how and why they use this highly sought-after protected native timber. They had several old photos that showed loggers cutting down and moving the huge trees. We could see the workshop through the store window and the owner invited Chris our back to see his tools and the huge slab of wood that he had.

    We stopped in Kerikeri to pick up some postcards and to have a coffee in the old movie theatre. Tomorrow is a holiday, so it was pretty busy in town!

    From there, we made our way down the main street of Kerikeri and on to the Kororipo Pa, the site of an important Maori pa (fortress) and village. Little remains aside from the terracing that once supported the palisades. Huge war parties once departed from here, terrorizing most places on the North Island and slaughtering thousands during the Musket Wars.

    Just down from the pa, is the Mission House and the Stone Store, New Zealand’s oldest European building (1836). It was incredible to see and hear what went on here in this very spot in the early days of colonial New Zealand.

    There is a tour which we didn’t take that gives details about the first settlers and the missionaries who came and how they lived alongside the local Maori tribes in the area but we had some info about the history so we didn’t take go on it. The tourist brochure says, “ the guides share stories of fierce warriors, drunken sailors and earnest missionaries.” Can you imagine what life was like for the women?

    The gardens surrounding both the Kemp House, a wooden house built in 1822, and the Stone Store are heritage cottage gardens and full of fruit trees. The first fruit tree ever planted on New Zealand soil at the ripe old age of 199 years old sits and still grows on the other side of the pavement. We loved the giant magnolia tree that still had some of its flowers on the branches.

    No hiking today, but as always, there was a river track to the Rainbow Falls, that is supposed to be lovely. Instead, we drove to the neighbouring town of Paihia, close to the birthplace of New Zealand - Waitangi. It was a busy place, preparing for the big festival tomorrow. We still haven’t decided if we will go to it or not... but we will check out the schedule.

    We went home, made sandwiches and had a cold Gold Beer. Debbie, our hostess picked some corn for us and gave us some fresh creamy cow milk. This farm life is great!
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