Clevedon Farmer's Market
We just discovered the Clevedon Farmer’s Market this past weekend. Just a short “Sunday drive” south of Auckland, this farmer’s market was a fun experience for the whole family. For us, it was a forty minute drive from the Eastern Bays, and parts of the drive were the quintessentially scenic parts of New Zealand. You know, the rolling green hills, forested areas in the background, gorgeous dappled sunlight that make you pinch yourself and ask if it is real. (In full disclosure, other parts of the drive are like driving through cookie-cutter suburbia, so don’t go into this thinking you’re going to relive your Lord of the Rings fantasies.)
There is plenty of parking at the Clevedon show grounds. Even though we arrived closer to 11, we were still able to park a short walk away. The market runs from 8:30 until 1 each Sunday except Easter Sunday, Christmas, and during A&P shows. ( I had to look up what an A&P show is, so to save you the trouble, it is an annual agricultural fair organized by the Agricultural and Pastoral Association. You’re welcome.) The bulk of the market is outdoors, so I would recommend going only on a pleasantly sunny day. Otherwise, you’ll get drenched and muddy. You’ll probably get a bit muddy anyway, though, as parking is on a field. A muddy, muddy field.
There’s no entry fee, so you can walk right in to a large, open air area that is circled by stalls. I saw lots of smoked meats, cheese, freshly baked breads, honey, and freshly prepared food to eat onsite. There wasn’t a ton of produce stalls, though there were a few. The focus on the event was on enjoying the live music, chat with friends and family, and EAT! There was a talented guitar player who could do every pop song currently on the radio, and in many ways it reminded me of a food truck event.
We tried all sorts of goodies. I enjoyed the gyoza, sausage rolls, some sort of venison dish, fresh smoothies, and some fresh ice cream with Clevedon strawberries. My son wanted one of the wood-fired pizzas, and I’ve got to say that I thought it was the only disappointing thing there. He, on the other hand, thought it was delicious.
Besides the music, the other attraction was tucked away in the back of the farmer’s market: the pony rides and petting zoo. For NZ$10, each kid got to ride on either a small pony or donkey (for the little kids) or one larger horse (for the big kids). After their ride, they got access to a small petting zoo with a sheep, some cheeky goats, and a larger selection of ponies and horses. Pink and purple grooming brushes were conveniently available for kids to practice their pony management skills.
We had an absolute ball for about two hours. It was well worth the drive out to the “country.” Strangely, we talked to some locals afterwards who said they never go to the market because it is too expensive. I thought the prices were reasonable: NZ$3.50 for an ice cream cone, NZ$14 for a decent sized pizza, and NZ$15 for a dozen delicious gyoza to give you an idea. And for one final tip: bring some cash. Most places take EFTPOS, but there are a few stalls that are cash only, and it is best to be prepared!