Avondale Sunday Market is arguably Auckland’s best-known farmers market. It doesn’t make the cut as an official farmers market as it has a bustling flea market component selling all sorts of bric a brac and clothing. The huge Avondale market attracts shoppers from Auckland’s diverse ethnic communities, and has produce you will probably not have seen elsewhere.
The Avondale Racecourse which hosts the Avondale Market is a run-down, pot-holed, muddy-after-a- rain shower site. In order words, there is plenty of substance, but no flash. You come here to get reasonably priced, fresh produce direct from the growers or wholesalers or food from the people who make them. There’s no fancy packaging or marketing, but there is plenty of friendly faces and helpful advice on how to store, cook and enjoy all these produce. It’s a real food adventure; I love coming here and seeing what’s on offer.
There is a wide range of fresh seafood available at Toby’s Seafood stall; we saw some skate wings, catfish and squid.
There were several stalls selling produce for Indian cooking, with fresh turmeric, cowpea beans (you shell them and cook the peas with spices), and mountains of okra and aubergines.
Puha and watercress, staple Maori vegetables are readily available. Including greens called polo polo.
The Chinese community is well catered for at the Avondale market. There is a huge range of vegetables available, including some tubers which I had never seen. Dry goods such as various noodles, rice, lentils and beans are sold from makeshift grocery stalls.
Fresh tofu (soft or firm), sweet beancurd custard (tofu fa) and fried tofu are sold, along with fresh noodles and beansprouts.
There is fruit galore; last weekend must have been clementine ($1.99/kg) and Pacific Queen apple ($0.99/kg) season, because it seemed every fruit stall had veritable mountains of them. The clementines were superbly sweet and I was disappointed that I didn’t purchase more, as none of my local supermarkets or grocers carry them.
There is also fresh ethnic foods sold, there were Thai street foods and desserts, Chinese fried breads and food trucks selling local fast foods. One of the food stalls also sold frozen chicken feet skin, completely random, but as a fan of braised chicken feet at yum cha, I was immediately intrigued by the possibilities (stuffed chicken feet anyone?).
There were also stalls selling seedlings and fruit trees. I picked up a kalamansi lime tree (the lime commonly used in Malaysia), from Fe, who gave me loads of tips on how to look after it, and gave me her phone number in case I had any questions along with an offer to visit her nursery. Now that’s service!
Avondale Sunday Market
Ash Street, Avondale
Every Sunday: 5am – noon
Parking is available on the showgrounds for $3 per entry, but lots of free parking is available nearby.