If you live in Auckland, you’ll know how lucky we are to have about a zillion different markets at our fingertips. My absolute favourite is the Avondale Market. Located at the Avondale Racecourse on Ash Street, this Sunday market has been running since the 1970’s, and is a wonderful mixture of Asian and Polynesian food and culture. Also, if you want 25 pairs of school socks for $5, you are totally sorted. I saw a giant wooden camel for sale that must have weighed about 10kg too if that’s more your bag. However, I don’t go for the “homewares”. I go for the food.
Avondale has the most amazing selection of seasonal produce, and it is CHEAP. It is gloriously cheap. If you are planning on making a big pot of tomato sauce, buy your tomatoes here. Peak summer they go as low as 25cents/kg. Seriously. If you’re feeding a crowd, or just doing your weekly veg shop, Avondale market will tick all the boxes and it’s also a fantastic outdoor weekend experience.
My tips for visiting the Avondale Market
- The markets open at 5am-ish apparently, but if you are a stallholder you need to be there by 7am, so aim for 7am if you are an early bird. If you’re like me, you’ll aim for later in the day, closer to noon when the market officially closes (however it will be operating past 1pm for extreme stragglers). They are open every Sunday rain or shine, but rain = umbrellas = eye gouging, so take care. Bonus tip: The car park closes around noon so you’ll need to find street parking if you’re any later and this can be a headache.
- Speaking of parking, bring $3 in change and pay to park onsite, or navigate the streets of Avondale trying to get a free park. Remember you’re going to have lots of produce weighing you down, so the closer park might be worth it.
- Bring a backpack, or carrier bags that are sturdy. The one downside with Avondale is the overuse of plastic bags. EVERYTHING goes in a plastic bag. If you bring your own bags you can avoid most of this. If you are beyond expert, bring a wheelie bag. The regulars are ruthless with these though so watch your feet!
- Wear proper shoes. If you wear jandals, than please see tip number 3 and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Bring cash. Apparently there is on eftpos machine on site but I’ve never seen it. The fishmonger takes debit cards but everyone else deals in cash.
- Start at the entrance by the Mr Whippy Van. You’ll need to walk through a small amount of “car boot sale” type stuff but then you start at the far North end of the food market. You can weave your way up and down each aisle now without missing anything.
- Wear sunscreen. There isn’t a huge amount of shade and walking down aisle after aisle in the crowds, in the heat, will take it out of you. Slip slap slop you know the drill.
- Talk to the stall holders. Ask what stuff is, because there will definitely be stuff that is foreign to you. This is the beauty of Avondale. It’s like you’ve been transported to somewhere in Asia or the South Pacific and it’s worth soaking all that up.
- Don’t barter. Well, okay you can barter but let me know how that goes. Instead, wait until 11:30am and then go. Most sellers have slashed the prices in half so they don’t have to take produce home with them. (You will get the leftover pickings though, keep this in mind!)
- Buy something you’ve never cooked with. Google it and experiment. Daikon is plentiful all year round at Avondale and you can pickle it, or put it in the spiraliser and eat with sashimi. Kohlrabi is another great find as you can usually pick up a giant one for a couple dollars and they’re typically sold at Farro for $12/kg so it’s a huge savings. Peel the outside off, slice thinly and add to a salad. It has a similar flavour to radish, but not as potent. Or go for the handfuls of beautiful herbs and greens – and make yourself an Asian chimichurri sauce.
- Eat a meal before you go. There are only one or two food stalls and they look pretty average to me. This isn’t a pre-prepared food market, but one to get ingredients at.
- Have fun! I typically am not a fan of crowds, but I go expecting them and it’s really part of the experience. Don’t be shy, pick your veg/fruit and wiggle to the front of the stalls where the scales are. Have your cash somewhere accessible so you’re not having to waste time finding your change while the line builds behind you. People watch while people watch you.
- Spread the word. The more the merrier for this type of outing. They already receive up to 20,000 visitors a day, whats a few extra people!? 🙂
Here’s a selection of what you can find at the markets in summer. Enjoy the photos and let me know if you’ve been before!