Shopping in Auckland, New Zealand

Where (not to) shop in Auckland

Recently I had a very quick weekend trip to Auckland, New Zealand. Since I was on a tight schedule, I only had a whole Friday and a couple of hours on Sunday morning to explore the following areas. I am writing this so that if you are also on a tight schedule, you may choose to ignore some of these areas. These are my findings and should be read with a grain of salt and in conjunction with other websites or forums.

A bit of background information on me so you get the idea of what I value in shopping. Firstly, I am on a moderate/low income (less than AUD$45k a year) and am a full time student. I'm an almost 25-year-old Asian who grew up in Brisbane, Australia and is well-travelled, having lived in Germany and travelled around Europe, Asia, Oceania, South America and random places in between such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. I have a fun sense of style, but at the same time I appreciate classic investments. I love bargain places like River Island, H&M, Forever 21, Forever New and Supré (some of these are more bargain than others). I also like moderately priced stores like Sportsgirl, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and Zara, and like most people, I enjoy (but cannot always afford) high-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Coach, Burberry, Loewe and so on.

Here goes:

  • Chancery Street, Lorne, etc.

I was highly disappointed in these areas. From several websites I visited before my trip, I got the impression that these were streets filled with little boutiques that had very sophisticated clothes, especially as these streets are located near High Street. However, when I got there, the first impression I got was: Asian street market. By that I mean, it looked like the clothes, shoes and accessories they were selling were what you could find in a Taiwanese night market. However, the prices here were jacked sky high. The clothes themselves were not necessarily ugly. They were certainly pieces that are currently in fashion. I just didn't think the prices were worth it. Most of the stores I visited were empty, even on a Friday, so I guess most of the locals agree with me...

  • High Street

As you might expect from the name, the boutiques located on High Street are a little bit nicer and a little bit pricier than other areas of Auckland. If you've been to "fancy" shopping streets in other cities, High Street might disappoint you, as there was nothing (in my opinion) that stood out as being incredibly unique. Also, I didn't think the quality here was good enough for the prices they were charging. So again, for me it was a question of value that made me poo-poo this area. However, I was more attracted to the clothes - I just didn't want to give out the green.

  • Elliott Lane

This little lane is charming but more for the food than anything else. For me the clothes stores also reminded me of Asian night markets (and not just because most store proprietors were Asians! Though that definitely didn't contradict the feeling I was getting). This place is worth ignoring if you are blowing quickly through town.

  • Newmarket

If you like chain stores, then this is your area. This is one of the main shopping hubs of Auckland, I was told by the taxi driver, so you want to start here for your usual brands. Some of the more reasonably priced places include Kookai, Forever New, Dotti. Other brands, a bit more expensive, were Karen Miller, Alannah Hill, Polo Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss.

This is where I admit my lack of time gives me less knowledge about how good shopping in this area is. My taxi driver picked me up after an hour so I could get back to the hotel to pack and then go to the airport. He said that if I wanted "something a little different", I would've had to walk a little further down. So this area has potential, in my opinion, but an hour and a quarter is definitely not enough time. Also note that while the main shopping centre (in which Kookai and Forever New were located) opens by 9am, the shops don't generally open until 10 or later... which my concierge and taxi driver did not know! Woolworth's (/Safeway/Countdown) was open if you need groceries...

  • Queen Street (Westfield and immediate surrounds [5-minute walk] only)

This is the city centre, I was told, so you get shops as well as food. It has a nice mix of chain stores (surf stores that stock Billabong, a Westfield shopping centre, etc.) as well as a couple of random boutiques. However I found that the boutiques were once again more expensive and the stock was not necessarily worth the money they were tagged at. You can probably avoid this street if you've already shopped the usual pedestrian precinct in your hometown.

  • Airport

What consoled me about leaving Newmarket so early was the fact that I would soon be in a duty free haven. However, when I got to the airport, I was a little disappointed. Auckland International is not a huge airport. While they do have JR duty free shopping, they only stock items such as sunglasses, electronics, chocolate, perfume, make up and watches. (Missing: handbags, clothes stores.) There are a couple of art stores (featuring a lot of wooden things, which may be difficult to get back into your country depending where you are from), an Adidas store, one surf shop, a couple of stores with New Zealand memorabilia, a free-standing Swatch shop and a Moet champagne shop. Oh, and a gelateria and a curious stand selling special water for travelling (with extra ions or something?!). Perhaps it was because I was hoping to get a new wallet that made me feel like the range at Auckland International was small... however, I wouldn't hold your breath unless you're keen only for alcohol and chocolates!

I hope this hub has been helpful.

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