The turn off to Puhoi on State Highway 1 is 35 minutes north of Auckland. I’d been driving past it for years before slowing down and making the turn. You should too. Historic Puhoi Village is charming.
There are all sorts of reasons why you should visit Puhoi but a very good one is the Puhoi Farmers Market which is held on the last Sunday of every month. The produce on sale here is seasonal and when it’s gone, it’s gone so you can be absolutely sure that everything is fresh and local. There were no eggs left by the time we got there, probably because they had been cooked up to make the mouthwateringly good bacon and egg sandwiches that those in the know were queuing for. It’s a fine thing indeed to spend a sunny Sunday morning listening to live music with a coffee and a sarnie in hand.
Puhoi (pronounced poo-hoy) means slow water which is quite apt as the few buildings that make up the heart of the village sit alongside the lazy Puhoi River. A great way to spend a few hours is to jump in a kayak and let the river carry you gently to the sea 8kms away at Wenderholm or you could just spend an hour paddling around the Village. Either way, the river has no rapids or waterfalls so it’s an ideal spot for new or rusty paddlers (www.puhoirivercanoes.co.nz for more information).
The first non Maori settlers in Puhoi were from Bohemia (nowadays a province of the Czech Republic). They arrived 150 years ago to find their new homeland was not quite what they’d expected. Before they could build their homes and start farming their land, they had to clear the dense native forest and they had to do this with the few spades and axes that they had brought with them. Life was hard and obstacles were plenty but local Maori taught them what could be caught, trapped and gathered from the land and sea and gave them vegetables and fruit from their gardens at Te Muri on the coast just north of the Puhoi River mouth.
Descendants from this first group of 83 settlers still live in Puhoi and some of the original buildings (the church, hotel, museum, general store) remain. Today the village also has a few shops, a tea room and a pub and a bit further up the valley is the Puhoi Valley Cheese factory, shop and cafe. When you visit, The Puhoi Pub is a must- see. It’s a real country pub, one of the few in New Zealand, with good old pub food and friendly service. Inside the walls are covered in photographs, clipping from the newspapers and other memorabilia and there’s a fire to sit at but make sure you don’t take one of the locals’ seats! Outside there are tables (with umbrellas) for lazy sunny afternoons watching the bikes roll in. The pub’s a popular rest spot for bikers who stop for a pint and a yarn on their weekend cruises. There’s plenty of bike envy going on and it all adds to the character and atmosphere of the place.
Categories: New Zealand