Aotearoa New Zealand is a haven of organic fruit and vegetables, artisan cheeses, ethically raised cattle, venison and poultry, and the down-to-earth, passionate producers who love nothing more than to welcome you into their world. From Auckland to Dunedin, you could easily plan a trip across the Tasman based on zipping from one farmers market to the next. Here are some of the best in the country.

Clevedon Village Farmers Market, Auckland
Auckland has fantastic nightlife but it’s worth staying in the night before a visit to the Clevedon Village Farmers Market because you’ll want to get there early. It’s a case of “you snooze, you lose” when it comes to the freshest produce at Auckland’s most authentic farmgate market, which opens at 8am sharp each Sunday at the Clevedon Showgrounds, half an hour’s drive south-east of the city.

More than 60 stallholders line the showgrounds, selling everything from seasonal fruit and vegetables, shellfish and pickles to smallgoods, flowers and wine. The market has long been an incubator for producers who go on to become supermarket staples, and it remains a barometer for the best farmers in the region. Every stallholder grows everything they sell, with no middleman, making it a true paddock-to-plate experience.

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The rural setting is idyllic and instantly relaxing, which makes the drive (and the early rise) more than worth it. Skip breakfast and have it when you arrive, with your pastry, muffin or breakfast burrito coming straight from the source.

Harbourside Market, Wellington
As far as city markets go, it doesn’t get more central than Wellington’s Harbourside Market, open every Sunday morning from 7.30am on Cable Street opposite Te Papa, right by the waterfront. Urban markets have been held on or near this spot for more than a century, and while the names may have changed (it used to be called Waitangi Park Market, then Chaffers Market) the ethos remains the same – getting fresh produce directly into the hands of consumers.

Browse through food trucks and artisan producers – expect anything from homemade dumplings to Bavarian smallgoods – as well as traditional fruit and vegetable growers from across the lower North Island. There are plenty of choices for breakfast and lunch and there are usually buskers around as well, contributing to a lively vibe. The market also has a food partnership program with Kaibosh Food Rescue, which distributes surplus food from stallholders to charities.

Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market, Hastings
The North Island’s east coast region of Hawke’s Bay is a growers’ paradise, producing not only world-class wines but orchards flush with apples, nectarines, cherries, avocados, peaches and berries. The most well-known market showcasing this is the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market, held inside the Tomoana Showgrounds on the outskirts of Hastings, open from 8.30am each Sunday.

Arrive hungry and take your pick from the breakfast options, which include homemade pies from Henry’s Family Pies – made from local Angus beef and organic free-range chicken – and fresh bread and pastries from Yeast Coast Baking Co, accompanied by a coffee from Arum Espresso Coffee Roastery.

Can’t make it on Sunday? Some of the same stallholders appear a short drive up the highway in Napier on Saturday mornings at the Napier Urban Farmers’ Market.

Marlborough Farmers’ Market, Blenheim
There’s very little you can’t grow in the Marlborough region at the top of the South Island. The climate is kind, the soil is lush and producers are passionate about what they do. The fruits (and a lot more) of their labours are laid out every Sunday from 9am to midday at the A&P Showgrounds in Blenheim.

It’s a very casual vibe and the farmers take immense pride in the quality of their produce, with everything from Koromiko free-range eggs, specialty cheese from Cranky Goat, fresh meat, microgreens, traditional preserves, pizza and sweet treats fresh from local baker Minghettis, breakfast options and freshly roasted coffee.

The showgrounds provide a classic New Zealand rural setting for the farmers’ markets, and all produce is sold direct by the farmers. It’s a great chance to chat to them and learn about where your produce comes from, and the sustainable ethos that governs so much of the farming practices around Marlborough.

Otago Farmers Market, Dunedin

Established in 2003, Otago Farmers Market at the Dunedin Railway Station is famed for its size (with around 60 stalls) and calibre of the stallholders, with a strict quality assurance process undertaken to ensure only the best producers make the cut.

Vendors come from right across the Otago region to showcase everything from honey, cheese, fruit and veggies, jams and pickles, to condiments, smallgoods and freshly caught seafood. Pick up some free-range chicken cuts from Webbers Gourmet Chicken and sample the biggest range of organic produce in the South Island at Oamaru Organics.

The market is full of characters and stories, so a visit also means an education in the changing dynamics of how we eat and how we can supply food in a way that’s better for us and the planet. The market runs every Saturday morning from 8am to 12.30pm.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with 100% Pure New Zealand. For more great content, follow Broadsheet NZ on Facebook and Instagram.

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on October 14, 2022, and was updated on November 23, 2023.