Puhoi: Rural foodie mecca.

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Sometimes, you drive by a place all the time without taking time to stop in and explore it.  For us, Puhoi was one of these spots.  We had driven by this rural foodie mecca just off Highway one many a time, on our way to a beach or some other destination North of Auckland, but had always failed to stop in.  With our time ticking down, we decided we had better pay Puhoi a visit.

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Tucked in amongst a lush valley of greenery just off Highway 1, a mere kilometer or two North of the toll road, is the historic village of Puhoi.

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Brimming with charm and treats for the tastebuds, we had to ask ourselves, “Why have we not stopped in here before?”  Better late than never, we suppose.

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The town itself was quite a bustling locale, boasting the delightful hum of people brunching and enjoying a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in the beauty of the rural countryside, outside of the Puhoi Hotel.

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Apparently, there are approximately 450 families which call the village of Puhoi home.  Word in the village is that this number will quickly be on the rise with new on/off ramps to the motorway in the works, increasing accessibility.

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With just 5 weeks left in NZ, it is fun to still be discovering hidden gems within this lush country.  Photo credit for this shot goes out to the sweet German tourist we met outside the “Slow Water Trading Post.”

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Alluding to the slow-moving waters of the Puhoi River, which run through the village, the Slow Water Trading Post was an interesting shop, to say the least.  Filled with Native American art, along with a range of American artifacts and vintage art, it  surely felt as if it were on the wrong continent.  Could it perhaps be a reflection of the Bohemian roots of this historic village?  Quite likely.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to pop into the Bohemian Settlers Museum to connect all the dots on this one- next time.

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The adorable lady who ran the Puhoi Town Library kindly (and excitedly) took this photo for us.  She told us about the time when a flood in the Puhoi River caused the library to be filled with 6 feet of water.  This is hard to imagine with the current water level of the river barely at a few centimeters due to drought conditions across NZ, but markings on the inside of the door testified to the water level that was once near the top of the door frame.

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It’s amazing to see this gorgeous little library still standing (and running) after evidence of numerous floods.

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The highlight of Puhoi, and what draws in most of its visitors, is the Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Cellar.  With the Puhoi Valley Cheese Factory situated directly next door, NZ dairy just doesn’t get any fresher.  We had seen and tasted several of the award-winning Puhoi Valley products previously, as these are available in stores, but let us say that it is most definitely worth getting down to the Puhoi Valley Shop if you can.

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We were able to sample any of the beautiful cheeses that we fancied (they were very generous with their portion sizes, we might add), which are sold at the cheese shop for very reasonable prices (much cheaper than in stores).

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So if you want to stock up on some delicious cheeses for a special gathering, or you’d just like to treat yourself to some of the finest cheese in NZ (or some award winning ice cream or frozen yoghurt), a trip in to Puhoi Valley is definitely recommended.

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Oh, and don’t forget to stop in to the adorable Mustard Makers “pantry,” just down the road, to pick up some tasty preserves and possibly some fruit sausage to accompany your cheese platter.

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After sampling an array of mustards, Breno settled on the Manuka Smoked Mustard to enjoy during our last month in NZ.

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Thanks, Puhoi, for showing us a wonderful time in your charming midst and peaceful valley!  The pleasure was truly ours.

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