Located slightly inland at the northern end of the bay, fast-growing Kerikeri’s main draw for backpackers is its abundance of casual work picking fruit in the nearby orchards. Most hostels will arrange work and transport pretty much all year.
There is more than fruit-picking to Kerikeri, however. It’s the site of the first permanent mission station in the country, and is home to several historic buildings, including New Zealand’s oldest house, the 1821 Kemp House. Another local icon is the 1832 stone store.
For the more upscale traveller, Kerikeri also has a thriving arts and food scene. There are a surprising number of art and craft studios, workshops and galleries for such a small town. Cafés, restaurants, gourmet food shops, wineries and a farmer’s market are part of a developing and serious food culture here. Return visitors to Kerikeri after a number of years have commented on how dramatically the town has changed.