The hippest places to go shopping in Auckland
Auckland, famous for its cuisine, music, art and culture, is a dream for anyone wanting to buy something hip with local designers and manufacturers aplenty.
- August 2018
Queenstown might have the best vistas and Wellington the most craft beer taps, but when it comes to shopping, Auckland is New Zealand’s undisputed capital. Here is where to have a great time and come home with something to treasure.
If you only have a few hours free for shopping, spend them in Ponsonby. This inner suburb, just 2km west of the central business district, offers the highest concentration of boutiques and great restaurants, with the added bonus of charming heritage villas and lofty views over the city. It’s a pleasant place to burn through your cash.
It’s known as Auckland’s hippest strip, and for good reason. Just about every local fashion label you can think of is represented (think Ruby, Zambesi, Juliette Hogan and Karen Walker), plus many one-of-a-kind boutiques. Don a flowing silk gown from Miss Crabb and pair it with a bra (worn deliberately showing) from cult lingerie label Lonely. Treasure hunters can forage for trinkets, antiques and furniture at Flotsam & Jetsam, and savvy second-hand dressers will love Tatty’s for designer recycled clothing. Other unique-to-Ponsonby-Road shops include Widdess for floaty, whimsical women’s clothing in natural fabrics, Curio Noir for exquisite handmade perfumes and candles, and Everyday Needs for homewares with a minimalist Japanese aesthetic.
Some of Ponsonby’s best stores are not on the main road. Head to Mackelvie Street for luxurious deer skin leather bags at Deadly Ponies and next door to The Shelter, where edgy international labels such as MM6 Maison Margiela and Marques’Almeida sit alongside like-minded local designers Jimmy D and Taylor. Fashionistas find their NZ-designed jeans and luxe basics at Workshop. Scotties Recycle, on Blake Street at the suburb’s northern end, is the place to nab pre-loved clothing from brands including Dries Van Noten, Comme des Garcons and Marni.
Jervois Road, technically in the suburb of Herne Bay, has a cluster of great shops about a 10-minute walk from the northern end of Ponsonby Road. Simon James Concept Store sells super-cool, globally-sourced home and design objects, plus a small selection of Auckland’s hippest fashion labels. Father Rabbit is the place to find kitchen products and linens with a minimalist, organic aesthetic, and Tessuti sells a beautifully curated selection of imported European gifts and homewares.
Stretching from Britomart by the harbour to Karangahape Road, the central city is full of great shops. The key is to venture off the main commercial thoroughfare of Queen Street — that is, unless you want to brave the chaos of Topshop, or visit souvenir shops and luxury bag stores catering for cruise-ship tourists at the harbour end.
High Street, parallel to Queen, is home to most of the CBD’s smaller boutiques. Auckland’s sharpest male dressers get their suits tailor-made at Crane Brothers, while the small but perfectly formed Unity Books is stacked with great reading material. Take a detour down Little High Street and discover vintage treasure trove Tango. Follow High Street up to Lorne Street to the Gow Langsford Gallery, where you can view (and buy, for a pretty penny) works by NZ artists such as Dick Frizzell and Karl Maughan.
Auckland’s newest shopping precinct has a mix of hip restaurants, cool global brands and high-end local labels. Discover the flagship boutiques of two of NZ’s most iconic fashion labels, Zambesi and Kate Sylvester, on Tyler Street. Nearby, World stocks exotic beauty products from around the globe. Unique-to-Britomart stores include Kathryn Wilson, the flagship store of NZ’s most successful shoe designer; Fabric, which sells high-end streetwear from brands such as Comme des Garcons and Isabel Marant; and Made, with its mix of NZ and French labels.
“K Road” is better known for its nightlife than its shopping, but there are plenty of second-hand stores and eclectic boutiques worth seeking out. For NZ-made and Pacific Rim-inspired gifts, head to K Road institution Buana Satu. Helter Skelter, just off K Road on Beresford Square, is the place to source cool vintage homewares, while Vixen Vintage Boutique in St Kevin’s Arcade is heavy on rockabilly and Americana-style threads. The Bread and Butter Letter sells locally made gifts and homewares as well as on-trend vintage clothing. Vinyl collectors will love indie record store Flying Out (just off K Road on Pitt Street), while art lovers should visit contemporary gallery Artspace for affordable prints and merchandise.
Newmarket’s arterial road, Broadway, is New Zealand’s busiest shopping strip, with hundreds of stores selling everything from hiking gear to underwear, cosmetics and flat-screen TVs. It can get manic on weekends, but thankfully the best shops are tucked down quieter side streets.
Teed Street and Surrounds
Venture down Teed Street from Broadway, or down Osborne Lane from Khyber Pass Road, and you’ll find a small network of streets and lanes packed with tempting boutiques. For New Zealand-made women’s clothing, check out Ingrid Starnes, Twenty-Seven Names and Andrea Moore. Fancy doing a bit of home decorating? Nest specialises in Pinterest-worthy homewares, while Bolt of Cloth stocks home furnishings and fabrics in bold, colourful prints, including a wide range from Finnish brand Marimekko.
As soon as you step into Indie Home Collective, you’ll want to redo your home in shades of white and natural wood. That is, if you haven’t already blown the budget on a new outfit at Karen Walker or Superette. To blend in with the locals, pick out some fresh threads from NZ’s much-loved streetwear label Huffer, or, if you’d rather stand out in bold colours and prints, head to NZ’s only outpost for Australian women’s label Gorman.
There are a few other great stores scattered around Auckland suburbs. Over the bridge in Takapuna, The Department Store houses a carefully edited selection of NZ’s trendiest fashion, interior and beauty brands. While you’re on the North Shore, check out Northcote’s Junk & Disorderly for eclectic second-hand furniture and homewares. Lovers of rare and used books could easily lose an afternoon at Hard To Find Books in Onehunga, while Time Out Bookstore in Mount Eden has the best selection of new books, as well as a helpful team of bibliophiles to make recommendations. Over in Kingsland, pick up New- Zealand made Kiwiana and retro-inspired homewares and gifts at Mixt, or unique, locally designed jewellery at Royal Jewellery Studio.
The burgers at Ponsonby Central Burger Burger are legendary, as are the chewy, Neapolitan-style slices at neighbouring Dante’s Pizza. If you fancy lingering, try the authentic northern Thai at Saan, aesthetically pleasing plates at Orphans Kitchen, or modern Chinese at The Blue Breeze Inn. For drinks, head to The Golden Dawn, Mia Culpa or Conch.
The city is packed with great places to stop and refuel. In Britomart, try Cafe Hanoi for contemporary Vietnamese, Ortolana for an elegant garden-to-table lunch, or Miann for exquisite handmade desserts. Further uptown, Federal Street is the home of Al Brown’s fast-paced and fabulous restaurants: eatery and oyster bar Depot and the New York deli-style Federal Delicatessen. On K Road, head to the ever-popular Coco’s Cantina for home-style Italian, or Sri Pinang for cheap-and-cheerful Malaysian.
Sleep on it
If you fancy swanning about in a fluffy bathrobe, dining on high tea and swimming in a heated rooftop pool, head straight to The Langham on Symonds Street for unrivalled elegance and comfort. Alternatively, check into the newly refurbished Grand Millennium Hotel for city-centre convenience and a room with a view.
Not only does it house one of the cosiest bars in the city, Hotel DeBrett on Lower High Street also has the coolest rooms in town. Fusing Art Deco features with bold, modern interiors, the luxury boutique hotel has 25 individually designed rooms, each featuring eclectic furniture and NZ art. If you prefer sea views, the Auckland Waterfront Serviced Apartments on Princes Wharf are so close to the water you’ll think you’re on a cruise ship.
Ponsonby has two good B&B options, both in charming heritage homes. The Great Ponsonby Arthotel is just a two-minute stroll from the main road and has 12 rooms decorated in New Zealand and Pacific art. Ponsonby Manor is located on Ponsonby Road in a recently restored Victorian mansion, and its light-filled, modern rooms are just steps from some of Ponsonby’s best restaurants.