Kerikeri is a popular tourist destination in the famous Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand. Often described as the Cradle of the Nation, it is the site of the first permanent mission station in the country, and has some of the most historic buildings extant in New Zealand today.
Located in the Winterless North, Kerikeri is a rapidly-expanding centre of sub-tropical and allied horticulture, and retirement homes. It lies at the very western extremity of the Kerikeri Inlet, where fresh water of the Kerikeri River tumbles into the salty Bay of Islands. Kerikeri is an ideal central base for day trips south-east to tourist areas such as Paihia and Russell and westward to the mighty kauri trees in the Puketi Forest.
For a time, Kerikeri had the town slogan It's So Nice They Named It Twice which was written in the Visitors' Book at the youth hostel by an anonymous backpacker in the early 1980s. With lush vegetation, modern appearance and a progressive community, Kerikeri was judged Top Small Town of New Zealand in 2001.
Kerikeri is a pleasant three-hour drive north of Auckland, via State Highway 1 and the last 12 km on State Highway 10.
- Mission Station and Stone Store, 246 Kerikeri Rd. Daily except 25 Dec, Nov-Apr 10:00-17:00, May-Oct 10:00-16:00. $10. The Stone Store is a former storehouse and the oldest stone building in New Zealand, construction having begun in 1832. The building has been restored to its original state and is one of the most photographed buildings in the country. The wooden Mission House (Kemp House) is the oldest building in New Zealand. It was built in 1821-22 for the Rev John Butler, New Zealand's first clergyman. Originally called the Mission House, it was then Kemp House for more than 100 years, but has now reverted to its original name. Entry to the Mission House is by guided tour only – start at the Stone Store.
- St James Church, a picturesque wooden church on the hill just above the Stone Store, began life in 1829 as a 38 ft by 18 ft (11.6 m x 5.5 m) lath and plaster structure complete with a town clock.
- Rewa's Village, opposite the Stone Store, is a faithful replica kainga (fishing village) which existed when Europeans arrived in New Zealand. It has all the features of a true kainga, including a marae, chief's whare (house), kauta (cooking shelter), tall whata (bench where food was placed), weapons store, pataka (raised food store), enclosure for the tohunga (a wise person who advised the community on just about everything), rahui (a post marking tapu or out of bounds limits), whare made of bark, waka tiwai (fishing canoe), bird snare, hangi pit (ground oven), genuine historic canoes, family enclosure, rua (storage area ) for kumara (sweet potato) and a paepae haumati (the basic toilet system which was flushed twice daily by the tide).
- Kororipo Pa stands at the head of the Kerikeri Inlet which was known as Te Waha o te Riri (the inlet of war) not long after the missionaries arrived. It was once once Hongi Hika’s fortressed pa, and fishing village.
- Steam Driven Sawmill, not quite perpetual motion, but this mill provides its own fuel and is a great favourite with tourists and steam engine buffs alike. The whole mill is powered by a large steam plant which is fired by waste wood from the trees being milled.
- Walks. There are lovely walks at Kerikeri and several others in the district. The 4 km stroll from the Stone Store to Rainbow Falls can be undertaken by most people. It meanders through very photogenic scenery and regenerating native bush. A short track leads from the Stone Store to Kororipo Pa. Another fine walk is from opposite St James Church to the Fairy Pools past Wharepoke Falls on the south bank of the Kerikeri River. The Fairy Pools can also be reached via a track from the Youth Hostel.
- Fairy pools, These delightful pools were given to the nation by Caroline Little who was captivated by them in 1928 on her first visit from China.
- Rainbow Falls, on the Kerikeri River, so called because the Maori name for them, Waianiwaniwa, means Waters of the Rainbow. You can drive almost to the falls; they are to the north of the main town.
- Dawn chorus. A rewarding experience. Just before dawn, at Manginangina in the Puketi Forest, thousands of native birds join voices to welcome the day, and there are very friendly birds which come regularly for breakfast.
- Art at Wharepuke, 190g Kerikeri Road (Stone Store Hill, 1 km from Kerikeri town), ☎ +64 9 407-8933. 08:00-17:00. Art gallery of NZ and internationally acclaimed artists. Focus on printmaking. Free.
- Tourist buses call in daily to Kerikeri to uplift day-trippers for guided tours to Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga.
- Beaches. Although the water at the Stone Store basin is part of the Bay of Islands, where overseas yachties tie up regularly, especially in the hurricane season, Kerikeri township does not have a beach. But not too far away there are wonderful swimming beaches, at Matauri Bay, which boasts impressive views of the Cavalli Islands, Te Ngaere and Tapuaetahi.
- Fishing. The Bay of Islands has been renowned for its big-game fishing since American author Zane Gray put it on the map in the 1930s. But there are smaller fish in the bay as well, and charter operators are busy all year round.
- Flying. Kerikeri Airport has a very active Bay of Islands Aero Club and flying schools. Joyrides and charter flights are available, and if you feel like doing something extraordinary, there's always tandem parachute jumping
- Sailing. The Kerikeri Cruising Club at Doves Bay is very active due to the unsurpassed boating waters on Kerikeri's doorstep, up with the very best in the world. The club has modern facilities, including a large marina.
- Swimming. As well as the marvellous nearby beaches, and various places to swim in the Kerikeri River like the Fairy Pools, Kerikeri has a modern swimming pool with diving facilities. Sited at the Kerikeri High School, it is a community pool.
- Golf. One km from the town centre, the Bay of Islands Golf Club has one of the best all-weather championship courses in New Zealand. Out towards Matauri Bay is the Kauri Cliffs Golf Course which has been included in the world’s top 10 courses by several golfing magazines.
- Wharepuke Subtropical Garden. Northland's "Garden of Regional Significance". Located 1 km from Kerikeri, it showcases unusual plants from around the world. Guided or self-guided tours are offered over the 5 acres of established garden.
Arts, crafts and gifts
- Art and Craft Trail. There are dozens of arts and crafts enterprises in the Kerikeri area and the Art and Craft Trail has become well known to tourists. This involves a visit to about 20 pottery, painting and craft outlets in the area.
- Enz of the Earth, 127 Kerikeri Rd. Halfway between the town centre and the Stone Store. Exotic gifts from around the world including furniture, jewellery and womenswear. Has a inner garden reminiscent of the East, featuring new Bromeliads.
- Cocoon Clothing, next to the Fishbone cafe opposite ASB on the main street. This women's frock shop stocks both locally made and imported womenswear.
- Makana chocolate factory, Kerikeri Rd. For a variety of superb taste sensations.
- Mahoe cheese factory, Oromahoe.
- Farmers Market. Held in the town each Sunday morning. Stalls offer a wide variety of fresh produce, baking and other foodstuffs, some at bargain prices.
- McDonalds, Kerikeri Rd.
- Subway, Cobham Road.
- Kerikeri RSA, Cobham Road.
- Dun Huang Chinese Restaurant, Cobham Road.
- Rock Salt Bar, Cobham Road.
- Cathay Cinema Restaurant, Cobham Road.
State Highway 10
- Redwoods Restaurant, State Highway 10.
- Orange Centre Cafe, State Highway 10.
- Marsden Vineyard Restaurant (near airport).
- Calypso Takeaways, Kerikeri Rd.
- Adam and Eve Cafe, Kerikeri Rd.
- Cafe Blue, Kerikeri Rd.
- Fishbone Cafe, Kerikeri Rd.
- Black Olive Pizzas, Kerikeri Rd.
- Curry King Restaurant, Kerikeri Rd.
- Santeez Cafe and Bar, Kerikeri Rd.
- Zest Cafe, Kerikeri Rd.
- Homestead Restaurant, Cobham Road.
- Posh Nosh Cafe, Cobham Road.
- Cafe Cilantro, Cobham Road.
- Neon Cafe, 94 Kerikeri Road (opposite Woolworths), ☎ +64 9 407 9594. M-F 06:30-17:00; Sa 07:30-14:00; open Su. $15-25.
- Cafe Jerusalem, Cobblestone Mall. Mains $15.50-18.50.
- Makai Restaurant, Landing Road.
Visitors can relax for a drink with their friends at the Kerikeri RSA, Citrus Bar or Homestead Hotel, or at the cafes and restaurants which have bars or are BYOs. The Cottle Hill Winery (Cottle Hill Drive) and Marsden Winery (near airport) offer local wines.
- The RSA, Cobham Road. "It has modern bar facilities and dining room for the more than 600 members, and welcomes visitors to the town. Lions, Rotarians, business and professional groups hold their meetings at the club. Also hosts the Kerikeri Bridge Club.
Thousands of backpackers visit Kerikeri every year. Kerikeri has a surprisingly large static population of backpackers, and no wonder, because the facilities for them are first class without a corresponding tariff. The major camper/backpacker destinations in Kerikeri are Aranga Holiday Park, Gibby’s Place and the Youth Hostel (all right in town), Hone Heke Lodge (near the schools), Hideaway Lodge (near airport) and Pagoda Lodge in Pa Road.
A very wide range of accommodation is available, including Heron Hill Hospitality, Aratika Lodge, Darcy Lodge, Donna’s White House, Kerikeri Lodge, Woodlands, Villa Maria, Palm Grove Motel, Abilene Motel, Kerikeri Court Motel, Kauri Park Motel, Kerigold Chalets, Homestead Motels, Ora Ora Resort, Kemp Lodge, Orchard Motel and Kingfisher Retreat.
- Hone Heke Lodge, 65 Hone Heke Rd, ☎ +64 9 407-8170. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. A super friendly backpackers, relaxed atmosphere, easy walk to town. Clean rooms, great showers, Wi-Fi and internet access. Dorms and private rooms. $24-43 pp.
- Kerikeri Farm Hostel, 1574 Springbank Rd (SH10), ☎ +64 9 407-6989. Cosy hostel with loads of character. Set in a lovely country estate, surrounded by an organic citrus orchard just outside of Kerikeri. Free Wi-Fi and free internet access. Dorms $24, private rooms from $28 per person.
- Ragdoll Cottage, 2361 State Highway 10, ☎ +64 9 4078971. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. Holiday accommodation, two bedrooms. Self catering. Clean, quiet and very comfortable. Outdoor BBQ and luxury spa pool. Linen supplied. Well set up. From $90.
- Wharepuke Subtropical Accommodation, 190 Kerikeri Road (Stone Store Hill 1km from Kerikeri town), ☎ +64 9 4078933. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:30. 5 eco cottages set in 5 acres of subtropical garden. Award winning cafe, restaurant and art gallery of international artist working on site. $130-$180.
- Moon Gate Villa, 462 Kerikeri Road (turn right off SH10 towards Kerikeri. Left side 1.8 km before Kerikeri Village), ☎ +64 9 929-5921. Check-in: 14:30, check-out: 11:00. Stylish accommodation set within an exotic garden, 2 minutes from Kerikeri Village, walking distance to restaurants, wineries and craft shops. A unique, modern villa with waterfalls and reflective pools; king suites with luxury linens. $135-305.
- Paihia and Waitangi
- Puketi Forest - kauri trees
- Ninety Mile Beach - day trips and tours
- Cape Reinga - day trips and tours