Unlike Auckland, Wellington is compact and easy to navigate for shoppers and there are all kinds of shopping options, from top-end designer gear and crafts to second-hand goods. There are also some excellent markets in Wellington and it is fun to shop any time of year.
The Kiwi capital is especially good on the fashion boutiques front at the likes of Lambton Quay, the Golden Mile and Oriental Parade, while alternative shopping can be had along quirky Cuba Street. It can be quite hectic in these main shopping areas on weekends, although the Oriental Parade, to the east of town, offers a more laid-back shopping experience.
Lambton Quay is the fiery main thoroughfare in the heart of Wellington with the biggest buildings and highest quality shopping. There are arcades and boutiques galore here, with the emphasis on fashion, music and books. Lambton Quay is also home to Sydney's Queen Victoria Arcade, Kirkcaldie & Stains and many prominent Wellington landmarks.
The Golden Mile is just northwest of downtown Wellington and is touted as the city's premier shopping district. Shopping options here are mainly of the shopping mall and arcade variety and there is also a bunch of major department stores. Golden Mile also has good eateries and can be accessed easily by bus.
Eclectic Cuba Street is the funkiest area of town. It is a historic, pedestrianized part of town in the Cuban Quarter with shops selling all types of merchandise. If you are after something a bit different, this is the place to head to. Cuba Street is also good for coffee shops and bakeries, as well as people watching, and is easy to explore on foot.
Oriental Parade is a mile or so to the east of Lambton Quay on Oriental Bay and has somewhat more laid-back shopping than Cuba Street and Lambton. It features fine views across the harbor and an array of classy boutiques and coffee shops. In addition, you will also find a decent selection of bars here.
As far as specialty stores go, Tinakori Road Village, on Tinakori Road in the Thorndon district of northern Wellington, is loaded with upmarket galleries, souvenir outlets and tasteful eateries. Get here by bus and then walk along Hawkestone Street.
If you plan on buying leather goods while in New Zealand, be sure to wait until you get to Wellington. It is also good for woolen and sheepskin items, along with outdoor gear and traditional Maori crafts. Shops in Wellington generally follow office hours and there is a GST tax of 12.5 percent that can be claimed back on exit from New Zealand. The best deals can be had in the New Year.
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