I actually wanted to go to Chestnut Charlie's in Clevedon, as it is probably the closest to central Auckland. Unfortunately, though normally open every day, they were not open today, Easter Monday. Instead, we went to Chestnut Traders in Helensville, which, by the way, isn't so much in Helensville as in South Head, past Parakai and even further north than Shelly Beach, where we had a late lunch of fish and chips. Their website says to allow for an hour to get there. Given you will probably miss the turn into Nancy's Lane, which leads to the property, I would allow for more time. Come to think of it, it is probably no closer than Chestnut Ridge, which I had rejected (even though they had cheaper chestnuts) on account of it being technically outside greater Auckland, almost as far as Huntly. I should have noted that you would be travelling almost solely on the motorway, while there were gravel roads involved in getting to Chestnut Traders.
What Chestnut Traders has going for it, though, is that you can combine a whole raft of other activities to the chestnut picking to make for a great day out. A tour at Crescent Dairy Goats, for instance, or a nice lunch at The Tasting Shed or the Bees Online Cafe, followed perhaps by a visit to the MacNuts orchard, or outdoor pursuits in the Woodhill Forest, such as Tree Adventures, mountain biking, paintballing or quad biking.
Even if you have nothing planned other than chestnut picking, the very distance you travel to get there, combined with the scenery, makes it feel like an adventure. To even get Chestnut Traders, you have to find the entrance to Nancy's Lane. Then you open (and close behind you) a gate through which you can see a path leading into the distance. You drive down this gravel road until you get to a gate for the Pakaka farm, where Chestnut Traders lives. The house on the left is where you will probably find your host; the shed on the right is where the chestnuts you collect will get weighed.
|Gate number 1, which you will see if you have turned down Nancy's Lane.|
|Chestnuts, with a spiky exterior covering.|
|Chestnut balls sitting on the grass, just waiting to be collected.|
|Growing chestnuts, still on the tree.|
|Road leading to the weighing shed, with chestnuts swept into piles in the background.|
1716 South Head Road, Helensville/South Head (allow for at least an hour from central Auckland)
(09) 420 2750
Saturdays to Sundays 10am - 5pm
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