The area was home for the fearsome Maori chief Hongi Hika, who terrorised many tribes throughout the North Island in the early 1800s. Yet he was welcoming to missionaries, allowing Samuel Marsden to establish New Zealand's second mission station in Kerikeri.
Via water, you reach Kerikeri through the Kerikeri Inlet which takes you to the town basin where the earliest settlers made their homes. Here you will find The Kerikeri Mission Station, also known as Kemp House, and New Zealand’s oldest standing European building. Alongside this elegant wooden home you find the Stone Store dating back to 1832 and is the oldest stone building in New Zealand. Both buildings are under the protection of the Historic Places Trust.
The main part of the town lies about 1km from the basin and it is here you will find a wide range of shops, from boutique clothes shops and surf shops to the butcher, the music store, the kitchen shop, the second-hand book store and many good cafes. If you’re visiting the Bay for a few days, don’t miss the Saturday Packhouse Market or the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market! There are also some beautiful walks close by, including the magical riverside route to Rainbow Falls.
A number of good wineries are located in the Kerikeri area, including Marsden Estate with its internationally acclaimed Black Rocks Chardonnay.