Spending up a storm in Wellington
As the cultural and political capital of New Zealand, Wellington is a melting pot of designers, artisans and retailers large and small. Serious shoppers can bet their bottom dollar that Wellington’s pockets are packed with unique odds and ends that will give your holiday budget a run for its money! Wellington shopping could mean combing the CBD and stumbling upon your new favourite store, tripping to the suburbs to source a handcrafted souvenir or heading harbourside for markets and galleries galore.
Wellington’s retail hot spots
The “Golden Mile” formed by Lambton Quay, Willis Street, Manners Street and Courtenay Place encompasses some of the best shopping on offer in Wellington. The pedestrian-heavy area includes clothing, jewellery, music, stationery and book stores, interspersed with cafes and a blend of classic and modern architecture. Reserve a few hours to scour the Lambton Quay retailers before hopping on the nearby Cable Car for a scenic uphill journey to the Botanic Gardens.
“Capital of cool” Cuba Street is arguably the best known strip in Wellington. With its pedestrianised heart and heritage listed facades, Cuba Street and the wider Cuba Quarter are sprinkled with eclectic urban design outposts, high-quality thrift stores and a miscellany of cafes, restaurants and bars. The bohemian area is a great place to people watch and absorb the artistic culture in between bargain hunting.
If you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve and cash in your wallet, jump on a train and head 20 minutes out of central Wellington to Lower Hutt. Westfield Queensgate Mall has everything you need plus a little extra, while the quaint Jackson Street (just behind the Esplanade) plays host to a selection of cute boutiques, cafes and antique stores that are well worth a half-day trip beyond the city limits.
Touted as a favourite weekend shopping destination for the rich and famous who roll into “Wellywood”, Greytown is about an hour away from downtown Wellington and perfectly positioned for a retail focussed road-trip. The gorgeous Victorian-esque village in the heart of Wairarapa wine country boasts an assortment of clothing and accessory boutiques, home decor hubs and sweet cafes to call in on as you meander down Main Street.
Historical Tinakori Road is perhaps the best place for a spot of antiquing in the capital city. Easily accessed by taking the number three bus or a short cab ride from the centre of town, Tinakori Road has plenty of places to eat, drink and shop, especially if you’re a fan of kitschy stores ensconced in colonial architecture.
Top shop recommendations
Kirkcaldie & Stains
Celebrating their 150th birthday in 2013, Kirkcaldie & Stains is a must-do when it comes to shopping in Wellington. Kirkcaldie & Stains have retained their old-school charm with friendly attendants welcoming you upon arrival and offering unsurpassed customer service over three floors of shopping. Men’s, women’s and children’s fashions, toys, cosmetics, designer homewares and gourmet goods are on offer seven days a week, with a 15% discount for international travellers to sweeten the deal.
Address: 165-177 Lambton Quay, Wellington
If you’re a gentleman (or know of one) whose wardrobe is focussed on quality rather than quantity, a trip to Mandatory is, well, mandatory! The swanky menswear fashion label has been designing immaculate, flattering, well-fitting clothing for the guy who knows how to dress for over 15 years. Update your wardrobe with a range of in-season casual and dress attire plus accessories any day of the week, and enjoy the tailored service at Wellington’s favourite menswear mecca.
Address: 108 Cuba Mall, Wellington
At the heart of creative Cuba Street is Iko Iko, bursting with colour and cuteness. A mainstay on the Wellington shopping circuit for well over a decade, Iko Iko’s shelves are laden with gorgeous homewares, stationery, gifts for kids and specialty “kiwiana” (3D kiwis or tiki cushions take your fancy?). You won’t have any trouble finding something beautiful for yourself, your abode or your friends and family back home – the only problem will be making room in your suitcase!
Address: 118 Cuba Mall, Wellington
Brown & Co
Rated by Vogue Living as a “suave mix of contemporary and mid-century art, design and antiques” with a masculine feel, Brown & Co is part retailer part exhibition. Embellished with taxidermised critters, model sailboats, Jeff Koons artworks and exquisite European decor, you can easily lose yourself in Brown & Cos cluttered charms. Among the ever-changing curios are gold-embossed playing cards, flavoured Italian toothpastes and the perfect gift you never knew existed.
Address: 253 Wakefield Street, Wellington
Good As Gold
A little off the beaten track away from the main shopping hubs, Good As Gold is well worth the detour. The little store with a big attitude stocks a huge range of local and international fashion labels such as Wellington-based Twenty Seven Names. The iconic boutique has gone from strength to strength, kitting out young Wellingtonians in the latest trends with top quality and eco-consciousness remaining paramount.
Address: 140 Victoria Street, Wellington
To market, to market to buy up big
Wellington Night Market
Left Bank off Cuba Street springs to life with the buzz of post-work shoppers come Friday night. There are more than 20 stalls to peruse, with around half of those offering tantalising street food with a multicultural flavour. Kick off your weekend with a cultural sojourn to the Wellington Night Market where performers, fortune tellers and masseuse all vie for your attention.
Hill Street Farmers’ Market
Wake up early on Saturday morning and make your way to Hill Street in Thorndon for a “slice of country in the city”. The place where home cooks and renowned chefs alike buy straight from the producers, the Hill Street Farmers’ Market presents seasonal produce, free range and organic meat, sustainably sourced seafood and fair trade coffee every Saturday until lunchtime.
Wellington Underground Market
A tourist attraction in its own right, the Wellington Underground Market runs every Saturday come rain, hail or shine. The market serves as a launching pad for emerging artists of every ilk, whether they are designers, bakers, crafters or musicians. Journey down to Jervois Quay at the Wellington Waterfront and see what monthly theme the market has adopted!
Neighbouring the iconic Te Papa Museum every Sunday is the Harbourside Market – the oldest and most popular market in town. The produce and provedore market has gone by many monikers including the Te Papa Market, Chaffers Market and Waitangi Park Market, but whatever you call it, it’s all about showcasing a taste of Wellington with plenty of options for breakfast and lunch on the go.
The indoor City Market is a stone’s throw from the Harbourside Market, so why not make a morning of it and visit both? A recent addition to the Wellington market scene, City Market is championed by local food personalities Martin Bosley and Rachel Taulelei. Avid foodies can sample boutique wines, antipasto, gourmet chocolates and delicious dressings before watching a cooking master class and meeting the best in the biz.