The sun's out and our luck seems to be in. As we pull in next to Tauranga Primary School, we immediately find a parking space - a rare find judging by the number of vehicles circling the block.
But we quickly realise that, at 10am, our luck's not quite as good as we thought it was.
Tauranga Markets is quite the weekend attraction around here, and with blue skies overhead, many stalls have been cleaned out by the time we arrive.
Unfortunately, that includes our first stop at the markets' sole bakery, Flaveur Breads, which usually stocks all kinds of mouth-watering pastries, sourdoughs and loaves.
We ask what they have left, and our hungry stomachs protest when we hear the dreaded words: "We've sold out."
They still have samples, and as we try a slice of activated charcoal sourdough called Black Gold - it's delicious - we learn Flaveur has a fully laden bakery a short drive away in Mount Maunganui.
After stocking up on market goodies, that's exactly where we head.
DRIPPING IN CHEESE: Tauranga Markets has three cheese options. Three! We might as well be in Switzerland. There's Dreamcheese and Mt Eliza, but we opt for Wholesmoked. After tasting more than we should, we grab two blocks of smoked parmesan, which come sealed in wax and are a steal at $7 each. While we're there, we hear the story behind their speciality: 14-year-old aged parmesan, which is crumbly and ridiculously strong.
"The longer you leave it, the better it gets," we're told.
CLEAN AND GREEN:
There's a large selection of organic produce here, possibly the most we've seen at a farmers' market. We grab a bag of lettuce mix, beetroot leaves and radishes, which later make for a great salad. But there are at least four stands offering organic kale, carrots, spinach, beets, turnips and herbs.
QUICK EATS: We settle on samosas from Samosaz. Mine comes loaded with plum chutney to offset the chilli burn. It does the trick. Pasties, crepes, fruit smoothies, handmade chocolates and dinky French treats are also on offer.
WHAT'S FOR DINNER: Lots. There's a smoked fish supplier, a pork specialist and someone selling chunks of brilliant orange pumpkin that could make a meal on their own. We settle into the queue for Wholly Cow, a butcher whose chiller is quickly being emptied of mince, sausages, rolled beef and pork roasts. Today, there's one lamb leg left, which is what we get. Slow-cooked over the afternoon, it easily feeds five hungry souls.
Music can make or break a farmers' market, especially if there's a saxophone involved. Today, that's not a problem. Jack Kearney is entertaining a growing crowd by giving contemporary makeovers to Seal, Britney Spears and The Black Seeds.
BEST CAFFEINE FIX: I hate being a cliche Aucklander, but I've previously tried both coffee options - The Coffee Guy and The Coffee Cup Cart - and have learnt not to bother. Your best bet is to buy your beans from Kiwi Espresso and make one yourself.
OTHER TREATS: We stock up on bags of apples ($5), oranges ($5) and macadamia nuts ($15 for 500g) and a tray of large eggs for $14. Apparently today's market is looking a little lean, with stalls for mushrooms, cured meats, dutch croquettes and succulent plants all missing. However, we have to make several trips to the car to drop off our loot.
You can get up to $100 out, for a $2 charge.
TOILETS: It's a school, so they're up to standard.
WHERE TO CHILL: There are normally two playgrounds open to keep the kids entertained, but today one is mothballed. There are colourful bean bags scattered around to relax on, and several picnic tables.
WHERE TO GO NEXT: If like us, you slept in and missed getting to Flaveur Breads, you need to drive straight to their shop at 31 Totara St in Mount Maunganui. The queue out the door shows they must be doing something right and they are fully stocked with beautiful sourdoughs and sandwiches. We grab a beef bourguignon and blue cheese pie, which might just be the greatest pie I've eaten, and a chocolate croissant that is mostly chocolate. Then we grab a hunk of the black gold bread for lunch and ask whether Flaveur is available in Auckland. Unfortunately, the answer's no.
Tauranga Primary School,
31 Fifth Ave