Exploring a city through food can be a great way to settle into an unfamiliar place. But when I first moved to Auckland City, I just couldn’t seem to get my hands on comfortable food. Buying boxes from the supermarket down the street from my flat was easy, but it felt empty. I wasn’t connected to what I was purchasing, and I wasn’t sure how to change that. Then one Sunday morning on a whim, I followed a middle-aged couple carrying a wicker basket up a hill, down a few blocks, and into a neighborhood I had never been before. Without realizing it this couple led me into my first taste of Auckland’s rich local market scene. After that morning, I was hooked.
La Cigale French Style Farmers Market
You’ll smell the market about a block before you’ll see it, and I can’t decide which is more exciting: actually tasting the foods, or just sniffing the air in anticipation. It has the whole nine yards of your typical farmers market wares: fresh veggies, friendly vendors, and food stands. Then you step past the vendors’ stalls and enter the permanent shop and café. French pastries lie cooling next to heaps of cheeses and hot loaves of bread. Honestly, it’s a bit of a sensory overload. Not to mention, if you’re looking for local wine, La Cigale Farmers Market is a must stop shop.
Auckland Night Market
Tuesday – Sunday
There’s something exciting about shopping after sundown. Whether you get your friends together and make a night of it or stumble across it on your way home from dinner, the Auckland Night Market is just plain fun. It hosts over 200 stalls where you can find everything from jewelry to live octopus. It’s important to note that this is a moving market and changes locations often, which can make it a bit hard to remain a regular. Their website is updated monthly, so as long as you have Wi-Fi, you’re good to go.
Matakana Country Market
In my personal (albeit non-parental) opinion, taking children to explore a market is an amazing way to spend the day, especially if the market is one like the Matakana Country Market. This stationary market sits on the edge of a park filled with animals (not just their meat), play castles, and an electric train. If you can’t make it out of the city, not to worry! The market sometimes holds pop-up stalls in downtown Auckland, too. Even without kids, I managed to enjoy this eclectic assortment of crafts, live music, and food trucks. The market proudly supports only independent and ethical products and even has a traveling tattoo parlor. This Matakana Country Market is well worth the $2 entry fee.
Victoria Park Market
This market is perfect for those who find themselves staying in the heart of Auckland City. Originally built 100 years ago, the site of the Victoria Park Market is the oldest Victorian industrial building still standing in New Zealand. It was converted into a market in 1984 and now boasts more than 85 local shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a perfect fit for locals, tourists, and history buffs alike to grab a flat white and check out New Zealand-made art, souvenirs, and fashion.
Waiheke Saturday Market
Speckled with vineyards, bush walks, and picturesque beaches, a trip to Waiheke Island is well worth braving the open seas. Or, you could catch one of the 40-minute ferries that depart daily from Auckland City’s main ferry terminal. Waiheke Saturday Market specializes in products made on the island, which means you’ll see various olive oils, a wide variety of local wines, and organic skin care products alongside your more expected market finds of produce, food stalls, and secondhand clothing. On warmer days there are even pony rides for younger visitors.
Auckland Fish Market
This where I should make known that I am a lactose intolerant vegetarian, which means I can attest to the liveliness of the Auckland Fish Market but I cannot vouch for the quality of the wares. But vegetarians, pescatarians, and omnivores alike should not let their dietary choices cause them to miss out on the market because there really isn’t any other way of describing this place other than an experience. The Auckland Fish Market is the only seven-day fresh food market in the city – and during the summer they keep it open at night. And there is live jazz music! Fresh seafood and jazz on a summer night, now that’s the kind of stuff you want to write home about.
The Takapuna Market is known for its overall atmosphere. One of the livelier Sunday markets, Takapuna hosts many fresh fruit and veggie stalls and a wide variety of local flora as well as hand made furniture and other crafts. A visit to this market may require setting your alarm a bit earlier than you would on an average Sunday, though. It’s advised to arrive quite early in order to catch all of the bargains.
The Avondale Markets are a great showcase for the Polynesian and Asian influences found throughout Auckland and New Zealand. This market is particularly unique because it does not host any pre-made food or drink stalls. Instead, stall owners focus their efforts on presenting market goers with raw fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Known across the North Island, this market is a must for those seeking an authentic and local experience.
Birkenhead Artisan Markets
3rd Saturday of Each Month
In the historic district of Birkenhead, the Birkenhead Artisan Markets are a great excuse to get out of the city and explore the North Shore. The market is home to unique jewelry stalls, ceramics, and other homemade homewares. Birkenhead Artisan Markets makes a perfect stop to grab picnic supplies on your way to one of the North Shore’s peaceful beaches. Along with various artisan crafts, you’ll find locally grown flowers, fruits, and veggies.
Parnell Farmers’ Market
The Parnell Farmers’ Market is everything a farmers’ market should be: friendly stall owners, fresh produce, and devoted market attendees. This market is smaller than many of the others on this list, but its size shouldn’t be confused with how much it has to offer. Filled with vibrant colors, tastes, and smells marketgoers can find local produce at consistent and reasonable prices. It’s also within walking distance from the University of Auckland Student Accommodations, so if they are willing to trade their Cup O’ Noodles, even university students can have easy access to great food.
If you’ve still got room in your carry-on and are looking for even more markets (because believe it or not, the city has so many more) check out AucklandNZ.com. Or, just ask Aucklanders for their favorites! Have questions, comments, or want to share your own marketplace venture? Comment below!