Trying the best of regional produce and artisan treats will be a highlight of your holiday, writes Bridget Jones

A strong coffee, freshly made bread and some beautiful fresh produce. Farmers' markets have fast become something of a national institution, keeping Kiwis busy (and fed) every Saturday morning. Here are some of the country's favourite farmers' markets to visit on your winter short break, from New Zealand's north to the very south:

The Old Packhouse Market, Kerikeri

This market celebrates everything that is special about the winterless north. The rules are strict: only Northland-grown produce and products made in the region are sold, with the market also showcasing an array of talented artists and crafters from the area. On Sundays, however, things get a little broader, with an eclectic mix of upcycled fashion and retro goods added in a car boot sale.
When and where: Saturday 8am-1.30pm/Sunday 9am-1,30pm, 505 Kerikeri Rd, Kerikeri

Matakana Farmers' Market

You will find this gem just 45 minutes from central Auckland. Held in the heart of Matakana Village, it is a foodie's heaven, with a focus on sustainable, fresh produce from local artisans. The market is zero waste, so BYO bags and baskets, and make sure the littlest shoppers make the most of the nearby treehouse and playground, while you relax by the river with a freshly made coffee after exploring what's on offer.
When and where: Saturday 8am-1pm, Matakana Village

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La Cigale, Auckland

In these days where you can't just jet off to the south of France, this is a pretty great alternative. The French-style market happens every Saturday and Sunday and is jam-packed with everything you would expect from a traditional French affair: crepes, cheese, fresh vegetables, and a patisserie section that is bursting with sweet treats. The artisan producers come from around New Zealand - and the world - so there is always lots to see (and taste). The original market is in Parnell, but there's now a second location in Britomart's Takutai Square on Saturday mornings as well.
When and where: Saturday 8am-1.30pm/Sunday 9am-1.30pm, 69 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell

Tauranga Farmers' Market

Set in the grounds of the city's primary school, this farmers' market aims to create a community around what it does each week. With the surrounding Bay of Plenty an absolute bounty of fresh produce, you certainly won't struggle to fill your bags with some of the most delicious fruit and veg around, as well as baked goods, cheeses, pickles and flowers when you stop by. Just make sure you leave the canine family members at home - there are no dogs allowed on school property.

When and where: Saturday 7.45am-12pm, Tauranga Primary School, 31 Fifth Ave

Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market

Hawke's Bay Farmers Market is one of the biggest in the country. Photo / Kirsten Simcox
Hawke's Bay Farmers Market is one of the biggest in the country. Photo / Kirsten Simcox

This Sunday market is one of the biggest, brightest markets in the country. It is also about to celebrate 20 years in business, making it one of New Zealand's oldest. Set in the stunning tree-lined grounds of the Waikoko Gardens, and in winter, moving ever so slightly, indoors to the Grandstand and Exhibition Hall, this local institution serves the community year-round. And on Saturdays, you can head to the central streets of Napier, where the Urban Farmers' Market is held every week in Clive Square. There you can get an early taste of everything you would expect from the gorgeous Bay - and then some.
When and where: Urban Farmers Market, Saturday 9am-1pm, Clive Square, Napier; Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market, Sunday 8.30am-12.30pm, Hawke's Bay Showgrounds, Kenilworth Rd, Hastings

Christchurch Farmers' Market

It does not get much more picturesque than this on a Saturday morning. Set in the open-air grounds of the historic Riccarton House, nestled under 100-year-old trees, and winding alongside the Avon River towards Puringamatou, the nearby 1.8-hectare protected native bush reserve, this market is truly idyllic. Plus, each week there are more than 60 local producers and artisans setting up shop, making it easy to enjoy the serenity and fill the car up before you leave.
When and where: Saturday 9am-1pm, 16 Kahu Rd, Riccarton

Christchurch Farmers Market is set in the open-air grounds of the historic Riccarton House. Photo / Nancy Zhou
Christchurch Farmers Market is set in the open-air grounds of the historic Riccarton House. Photo / Nancy Zhou

Lyttelton Farmers' Market

Blocking off Lyttelton's main street, the whole community is drawn into this classic market that gives a taste of Canterbury's produce. While the food is certainly worth checking out, the ethos around using the market to help support local talent is a real winner. Each week, organisers remain committed to giving space for local musicians to entertain the crowds, a big win for the music scene, which saw many nearby venues damaged in the Christchurch Earthquakes.
Where and when: Saturday 10am - 1pm, London St

Otago Farmers' Market

Not only is the array of produce impressive, but the location for Dunedin's weekly market is pretty great too, with the historic railway station framing stalls that are packed full of tasty treats - and open year-round (yes, even in winter). Solely a food market, with vendors coming from all over Otago to share the fruits of their labour, it is part of the city's fabric, tempting even the most stubborn of students out of bed for a market breakfast or a fridge re-stock.
When and where: Saturday 8am-12.30pm, Dunedin Railway Station's northern car park

For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com/dosomethingnew

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