KeriKeri – The Town that Changed New Zealand’s Cultural Landscape?

Full of culture, history and stunning scenery, KeriKeri is a place centered around some of the most historical noteworthy buildings in New Zealand. Playing major roles in unifying and calming relations between European explorers and local Maori. 

A Town Full of History.

KeriKeri was once home to a fearsome Maori chief – Hongi Hika. Although he sought destruction on other tribes, Hongi Hika was surprisingly welcoming to the missionaries that ended up on New Zealand shores.

He even allowed Samuel Marsden to establish the second mission station in KeriKeri. 

File:Kerikeri Kemp House.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Kemp House in KeriKeri.

Kemp House, previously known as KeriKeri Mission station is New Zealand’s oldest

standing European building. Protected by the Historic Places Trust, it is treasured as a significant historical landmark that once housed Reverend John Butler in 1821.

Stone Store lingers nearby, yet another piece of history that stands the test of time, dating back to 1832, and New Zealand’s oldest stone building. Built by an ex-convict Stonemason from New South Wales, and designed by Wesleyan missionary John Hobbs to store wheat, it was eventually converted into a Kauri gum-trading store. 

The ‘Cradle of the Nation’.

KeriKeri humbly holds onto the title of being the ‘Cradle of the Nation’ due to the being the first site to have a permanent mission station built.

The oldest fruit tree in NZ, planted in 1819.

A picturesque town back-dropped by native bush; a pear tree perched close to Stone House. This pear tree is meaningful in its own right. The oldest fruit tree in

New Zealand that still bears fruit.

A center of subtropical and horticultural expanse lying west of KeriKeri Inlet, fresh water from the KeriKeri river flowing past landmarks of history, right out to the Pacific Ocean.

An Insignificant Waterway that Establishes a Significant Presence.

Puketi Forest looms in the background, historical buildings overlooking the steady flow of fresh water tumbling over submerged rocks within the KeriKeri River. 

Although not a particularly capacious waterway, due to its important shore occupants, thousands of people visit each year to experience a little taste of history.

Once a bridge crossed a point where now a ford lays claim. Several meters upstream another bridge was constructed.

This landmark claims its place in NZ history for many reasons. One being chief Hongi Hika used this river to commute to his coastal pa, and played a significant role in the ‘Musket Wars.’ 

Rainbow Falls.

KeriKeri is well known for its stunning tracks that interweave throughout native bush. You can track your way to the stunning Rainbow Falls via short and longer walking tracks.

A single-drop waterfall cascades down a hard basalt layer of rock beside softer mudstone. The falls naturally formed from the erosion caused by water on mudstone.

Immersing in nature, the Rainbow Falls walk takes around 1.5 hours to complete. Strolling along the path surrounded by nature’s masterpieces, birds flittering past, a faint din of tumbling water echoes through the trees.

Finally, the track emerges into a clearing, and behold history greets you. Stone Store, Mission House, St James Church, and Kororipo Pa cluster close together, overlooking the KeriKeri River.

Just a short walk from the Waipapa road car park, you can meander along the platforms, perched above the 27 meter waterfall. For the more adventurous, you can make your way down to the base of the falls, scrambling along the rocks to the water’s edge.

Rewa’s Village.

Set amidst native forest, a replica of a Maori fishing village allows visitors a glimpse into what life was like before Europeans settled in New Zealand. Detailed museum displays, gardens and replica canoes takes the visitors back in time to simple village life. 

Expansive vantage points overlook KeriKeri basin. 

For Animal Lovers. 

Aroha Island is a bird sanctuary 12km from KeriKeri. A tranquil setting open for exploration of mangroves and native bush during the day, and night tours that take you along a track to spot the elusive kiwi.

Take a Dip.

Charlie’s Rock created from basalt rock formations has become a local and tourist hotspot to cool off on those hot summer days.

To top off the voyage, pop into KeriKeri township to sample some mouthwatering local delights. Trying out a chocolate sample at Makana Chocolate Factory. Winery-hopping around Marsden Estate, Ake Ake Vineyard, Cottle Hill Winery, and Fat Pig vineyard to taste their local varieties and seasonal food platters.

Take the Jump.

View KeriKeri from above. To really get the sights in, there is nothing quite like jumping out of an airplane at 9,000 to 20,000 feet. Adrenaline pumping through you, the plane climbing higher and higher, your instructor secures you in. The door is pulled open, a gust of wind rushes through. There is barely a chance to think, your body propelled out of the plane into complete free-fall. 

Your breath escapes you, body thrusting forward. Suddenly, the cord is yanked, your body suddenly suspended, and then you see it. You see everything. A world viewed from above. The feeling like no other. 

You see everything, the sights you explored on foot only a day ago. The sky above, rivers traversing through forests and mountains. Another world opens up. The free-fall followed by the indescribable freedom you feel as you ‘fly’ past everything around you.

Whether you want to take a stroll along the many walking tracks amidst forest and native life, explore the historical land marks that cement KeriKeri in NZ history, sample the local delicacies, or dare to jump and experience a whole new feeling of freedom and life.

KeriKeri is just the beginning. Come and Explore.

Published by sharlene25

Sharlene Almond is the author of the genre-bending Annabella Cordova series, and a New Zealand travel book Journey in little Paradise. She has written a range of health, writing and body language articles; contributing as a guest writer on other blogs. Over the last ten years, Sharlene has attained qualifications in Body Language, Criminology, Journalism, Editing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Pet Care, and Animal Behaviour. While setting up an online nutritional business, she is studying to specialize in Medicinal Cannabis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sharlene is also currently editing her second Annabella Cordova novel, with two others in the works. To support her online business, Sharlene sends out a trimonthly newsletter covering health, body language, writing, and even articles centered on health topics for your pet.

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