Whether it’s the best of high end from New Zealand’s famously inventive fashion designers such as Karen Walker of Zambesi, a quirky gift or souvenir to take home, or a rare piece of vintage vinyl to slap on the turntable, you’ll find it in Wellington. Head to Lambton Quay for designer and bespoke. In this area, find the Old Bank Arcade, an ornate warren of fashion, beauty and more. See three gorgeous floors of merchandise at 150-year-old department store Kirkcaldie & Stains.
Love vintage? Schedule at least a whole afternoon to trawl Cuba Street. Among some fantastic vintage clothing stores, you’ll also come across Slow Boat Records, a New Zealand legend where you are likely to rub shoulders with visiting rock stars, hip Hollywood types and local musicians. But Cuba Street is also home to edgy New Zealand designers, including Kate Sylvester and Mandatory for menswear.
There are plenty more beautiful shops on Wakefield, Willis, Manners and Victoria Streets. And don’t miss gorgeous Jackson Street in Petone, where 100 preserved colonial buildings house some lovely retail therapy.
Our top picks
Good as Gold
120 Victoria Street
Good as Gold has been selling stylish street wear for more than 10 years. It’s own Wellington-based brand expresses New Zealand style in a way that manages to be both cutting edge and classic with clean lines and directional pieces and cuts. Look out for travel-ready diverse black dresses or trousers, anoraks, sweats and t-shirts, all in quality fabrics and beautifully designed. In addition, find trainers, bags, socks and other accessories from the leading street wear brands from around the world, such as adidas, Carhartt and Herschel Supply Co.
144 Cuba Street
There’s vintage, and then there’s the real stuff and that is what you find at Ziggurat –1950’s dresses and swimwear, shoes from across the decades that are in perfect condition, scarves worthy of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. This Cuba Street institution has been in business since 1980, upholding the strip’s reputation for all things vintage. Find the perfect, exquisite hat for the races, a wedding dress, unique piece of jewellery or, for men, a classic suit, trench coat, Italian silk tie or cool rockabilly shirt.
Shop like a local
Wellington is home to some seriously good markets, here are a handful not to be missed:
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.