KERIKERI. "It's So Nice They Named It Twice!"
If you are a backpacker and would like to work in New Zealand while traveling - a job in an orchard is a good option. It's not just fruit picking what you can do. There is also fruit thinning, plant pruning (summer and winter) and many other preparation works.
As I mentioned before we went North from Auckland and looked for a job. Luckily I received an email from hostel owner that he can offer something for us. I never told you a story about the hostel, it's owners and city we were staying.
So we arrived in Kerikeri, small and lovely city in Northland - Bay Of Islands with a population of 7400 people. When we arrived we couldn't imagine that this city has very deep and important history. It is often called the Cradle of the Nation, being the site of the first permanent mission station in the country, and it has some of the most historic buildings in the country.
Kerikeri was home ground for the fearsome Hongi Hika, a Maori chief who terrorised many tribes throughout the North Island in the early 1800s. Yet he was kind to missionaries - allowing Samuel Marsden to establish New Zealand's second mission station here.
Kerikeri was the first place in New Zealand where grape vines were planted. Samuel Marsden planted 100 vines on 25 September 1819 and noted in his journal that New Zealand promised to be very favorable to the vine. In the same year, Charlotte Kemp planted the first citrus, and New Zealand's first commercial plantings of passionfruit were established in 1927, and about 1932 the country's first avocados were planted. So most of the plants what seems so naturally growing in New Zealand now were introduced right here in Kerikeri. No wonder there are plenty of jobs for backpackers. Orchards are everywhere.
The definition of the word Kerikeri most widely known is 'dig dig', or 'to keep digging'. It is known that Māori had extensive gardens in the area when Europeans arrived. But there are many other conflicting definitions given over the years.
The local Kerikeri slogan is "It's So Nice They Named It Twice"- given by a Backpacker! Kerikeri has two 'Gardens of National Significance': Palmco and Wharepuke Gardens. The first thing we did after check in - walked bush walk up the river to spectacular Rainbow Falls. We started our walk from Wairoa Stream, where you can take a look on another nice waterfall. It was a very nice walk through green woods with palm trees, bamboos, ferns, interesting trees and many birds.
If you ever decide to come here (and I suggest you to do so), check out Makana Confections hand-made gift-quality chocolates,using freshest, natural ingredients. They always give you a sample for free. You can get good coffee and ice cream right next door.
Across the street, there is a very nice Farmers market in the old packhouse (open on Saturdays) . We enjoyed fruits and veggies what we bought there. The best part was - we found real dark bread there (in stores the only "dark" bread you will get is the same fluffy white bread with a slightly darker color. We were looking more firm and better quality and this is where we found it.) Also we loved local oranges. So juicy and sweet. The perfect, round, orange ones in the store are not even close to these not so much beautiful but very tasty fruits. So take my advice - buy fruits and vegetables in the market if you can.
Also, check out the main street. On the subtropical themed Street are plenty of cafes and a wide range of food and clothing shops.
It was surprising for such a small town. Some of the gems are quite hidden, like Cafe Jerusalem. I suggest you try it. But if you want some really high-class food and wonderful atmosphere go to food at Wharepuke. There is plenty of options to choose from, so just pick one.
Definitely, take a swim at The Charlie's Rock. Locals like to jump from the waterfall, but we didn't take that risk. It is nice to hang around the waterfall, swim and sunbathe.
Also, there are plenty of beautiful beaches around, so you can choose the one you like the most (My favorite was Matauri Bay).
Also, we really enjoyed The Ngawha Springs hot pools. They have located in the center of a geothermally active area: an area that produces a considerable amount of Northland’s electricity – all while feeding over a dozen hot pools of all sorts of colors, element makeups and temperatures. The place is rustic and authentic. And it is only 3NZD per person!
Kauri tree forest walks are also really nice. These giant trees are slowly dying, so it is magical just to walk beneath them. There are a lot of those walking tracks around Kerikeri.
But when it comes to the places to stay for backpackers, looking for a job, I can recommend only one place (I am sorry I can't tell you much about other places) - Hone Heke Lodge ( www.honeheke.co.nz, 65 Hone Heke Rd, Kerikeri 0230). The owners are super nice couple David and Victoria who bought the place 4 years ago.
They live right next door with their two kids and run the place by themselves. And it is a lot of work to keep the lodge clean and nice for the people who stay here. But that is not the only job they do. They also have cooperation with best businesses around, so they provide jobs for everyone. They even provide transportation (drop off and pick up) if they can. As I wrote in my previous posts employers and hostels have these type of cooperations.
But this was far more than we expected. Dave and Vicky were like guardians, always interested are everything okay in a lodge (provided clean facilities, clean kitchen towels, suitable kitchenware) and we really felt how much They care about their guests. They also offered day jobs for people, made teams for bigger and longer-term jobs and received feedback from employers, so They could improve more and more. You can really tell that They love their job and each other. One of the best parts of the hostel was rules for night time. As most of the people here are working, this isn't a place for the party. We really appreciated a good night sleep, because most of the other hostels don't care about things like that. So This is definitely NOT a place for the ones who want to break that rule. But this is definitely a place where come and feel like home, make new friends, and work hard for the wonderful future travels you have planned.
There are no words to describe how much we loved the place and the people who run it! Thank You so much, Dave and Vicky!
Never judge a small city by its size. In Kerikeri, there is a lot of things to see and do and a lot of great people to meet. So come and see for yourself! ;)