Kerikeri has a subtropical climate as you will notice on the kind of fruit you can buy everywhere along the road.
It is a rather quiet town without the hustle and bustle of Paihia. But it has some nice old buildings, all situated around Kerikeri Basin. There you will find:
- Kerikeri Mission House (Kemp House): the oldest wooden building in New Zealand. It was the second European mission and was build in 1819.
- Stone Store: one of the oldest brick buildings in New Zealand. First it was part of Kemp House, but later on became a shop, where you now can buy 'off the beaten path' souvenirs.
- St. James Church on a hill overlooking the basin with a lot of kauri wood inside.
Over the bridge is Rewa's Village, a reconstructed Maori village.
Not far away from Kerikeri lies Rainbow Falls. Through a scenic drive you will get to Opito Bay; take the track to an old 'pa site' and your reward is a great view over the Bay of Islands.
Kerikeri is a must if you like chocolate and you have to visit the local chocolate factory.
Of course the Maoris were in the Kerikeri area long before the Europeans ever were.
Rewa's village is a full size replica of an ancient maori settlement, which stands on the hill overlooking Kerikeri.
Maori setllements were long built on hillside locations for protection from attack.
The Stone Store, Kerikeri, was the earliest stone building constructed by Europeans when it was built in 1832.
Designed by Wesleyan missionary John Hobbs and built by an ex-convict stonemason from New South Wales, the Store was meant to house New Zealand mission supplies and large quantities of wheat from the mission farm at Te Waimate. When the wheat failed the building was mainly leased as a kauri gum trading store. It then passed into Kemp family ownership, and from 1929 onwards was used mainly as a general store.
It is now in the hands of the new Zealand historic trust.
Kemp House is the oldest standing European house in New Zealand. it is situated in the small town of Kerikeri.
Built to house the Rev. John Butler in 1821-22, this simple but elegant wooden house was occupied by the Clarke family from 1824-31, and then by James and Charlotte Kemp and their descendants until 1974, when the house and most of its contents were presented to the Historic Places Trust. The garden, first dug in 1820 and cultivated ever since, recalls this mission period.
Heading further south we stopped at the small town of Kerikeri. This is the site of one of the first European settlements in New Zealand.
Two of the oldest houses in New Zealand which date from the 1820's still stand to this day.
Kerikeri is the main commercial town for the Bay of Islands area of Northland. However, in the Kerikeri Basin (an inlet from the Bay), are two of New Zealand's most important heritage buildings. One is the oldest stone building in New Zealand - the Stone Store, which is still an operating shop - though it only caters for tourists now. The other is New Zealand's oldest building, Kemp House (which my Dad actually lived in for a while back in the 1950s). Kemp House was built in 1822 and has survived fire and flood - an amazing life for an old wooden building. A combined entry ticket to both is $NZ6.50 for adults, though univeristy students get really good discounts. If you want to also visit Pompallier House in Russell, I would strongly advise you pay a little more and get the combined ticket for that. You could visit these two buildings in the morning and then drive to Paihia (20 minutes) and catch a ferry to Russell to see Pompallier.