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Northland is fast becoming a food and wine Mecca, especially for city folk escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

What makes the Northland region so appealing is the increasing number of highly rated restaurants and cafés and how well their chefs showcase what’s grown or produced in the north.

The wine industry is growing fast, with the Northland Wine Growers’ Association (formed in 2007) boasting a membership of over 50. Northland’s vineyards consistently produce medal-winners and have established a reputation for chardonnays and pinot gris. The reds such as syrah (shiraz) and pinotage are just as highly regarded.

Visitors are welcome to call in for tastings and cellar door sales. Some vineyards offer coastal or rural views with restaurants that combine Mediterranean ambience with a distinctive Northland flavour.

Special events such as ‘It’ Bay of Islands held in Paihia, the Russell Oyster Festival, The Tutukaka Winery Tour, Savouring the Source and the Ocean & Orchard Festival are attracting scores of people who seek out good food and wine.In Northland you can pick your own macadamias, or buy oysters, award-winning cheeses and olive oils direct from the producers.

Visit a boutique chocolate factory or a kumara shed or a visit to a farmers market followed by a cooking workshop? Farm gate stalls, artisan producers and food excursions are all part and parcel of the Northland landscape.

Weekly Farmers and Growers Markets are held in Whangarei, Kerikeri, Paihia and Paparoa. These markets have been a growing phenomenon over the past 10 years, promoting the ‘gate to plate’ philosophy.

They sell largely fruit and vegetables, along with herbs, flowers, plant seedlings, meat, eggs, bread, cheese, gourmet produce, preserves, pickles, jams, honey, baked goods and other products that form part of the food production cycle, including compost and worm farms.