Two of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand are Queenstown and Rotorua, and for this reason the locals have set up markets to showcase their arts, crafts, local produce and gourmet delights. So if you happen to be holidaying in either of these towns at the right time of month, it’s well worth taking the time to have a poke around the local markets and hopefully come away with a new favourite piece of art or something delicious to eat or drink.
Queenstown is an absolutely stunning town set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by majestic mountains. The ‘Creative Queenstown Arts & Crafts Markets’ are held every Saturday on the boardwalk beside the lake and are open for most of the day, depending on the season. The surroundings on their own make the markets worthy of a visit, let alone the unique and quality arts and crafts on offer. The Markets attract artists from all around the South Island keen to show off their talents and make some money. The stalls are mostly arts and crafts and include paintings, pottery, sculpture, handmade soap, unique jewellery, wood turning, photography, bone carving, flax weaving, greenstone carving, knitting and more. There is also plenty of food on offer and live music adds to the atmosphere. Surrounding restaurants run a great trade and patrons can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere generated by the markets. Queenstown accommodation is plentiful and during the off season (summer) there are great hotel deals available for the astute traveller. The hotels and food are world standard and the activities and attractions are too numerous to list.
Rotorua is a market goer’s dream with four regular markets attracting locals and tourists alike. The most regular of the Rotorua markets is the Kuirau Park Flea Market (locals call it the Flea Market), held every Saturday morning, rain, hail or shine. Long been a haunt of mainly locals, the Flea Market has increasingly been attracting tourists. Market goer’s can find a huge range of stalls from second hand books and clothes, to freshly made breads and Maori foods. There are also food stalls from a variety of cuisines including Indian, Latin American and Asian. Other stalls include jewellery, fresh fruit and veg, bric-a-brac, arts and crafts and handmade gourmet products. The Flea Market is held on the grounds of Kuirau Park which is famous for its geothermal activity. Once you’ve finished poking around the markets you can spend some time exploring the bubbling mud pools, sulphur vents and crater lakes or even stop to soak your feet in one of the hot springs.
Thursday night’s Night Markets are a must visit for Foodies, offering a unique dining and shopping experience. Held in the closed off Tutanekai Street near the heart of Rotorua, the local shops and restaurants stay open so that market goers can have the best of both worlds. The Night Markets boast a selection of high end gourmet foods including locally made wine and beer, gourmet handmade cheeses and artisan products. The alfresco markets showcase a wide range of New Zealand food, arts and handicrafts, jewellery and much more and shoppers will be entertained while they shop by a variety of live entertainers. These vibrant markets have fast become a highlight of any trip to Rotorua and a favourite amongst the locals. There are a number of excellent Rotorua hotels within walking distance of the markets, or if you’re staying further afield, the local public transport will get you to the markets easily.
The largest of the Rotorua Markets is the Soundshell Market held on the Rotorua lakefront every weekend. This indoor/outdoor market has both international and local handicrafts, food, drinks, jewellery, books and clothing… basically, everything but the kitchen sink! The markets have a long held good reputation for quality and variety and the large number of stalls means it is easy to spend a couple of hours exploring. The Soundshell market is very popular with tourists and most Rotorua accommodation can organise transfers to and from the market for you.
The newest market in the Rotorua area is the Hot Lakes Craft Market which features only arts and crafts made in New Zealand. These markets have a great selection of unique handcrafted products, some more unique than others. The strangest stall is the Coffin Club which offers market goers the chance to create and personalise their own coffins… not for everyone, but strangely popular as people seem to enjoy personalising their own coffins with painted flowers and poems etc. Less unusual but equally as fascinating are the hands on demonstrations where people can try their hand at pottery, photography and other crafts and hobbies.
Rotorua and Queenstown are both great places to visit with a huge range of attractions and activities appealing to all types of travellers. The hotels in Rotorua are of international standard as is the accommodation in Queenstown. The markets are just one of the plethora of things to do and see but are a must visit if you’re hoping to take home a handcrafted souvenir.