A guide to thrift shopping in Auckland

Who would have thought.

I’ve always of thought of New Zealand as Australia’s younger sibling, similar to what Skipper is to Barbie. A little younger, a little less cool and a little less knowledgeable about fashion.

Sure our more southern counterpart is a hub for great designers such as Nom’d, Kate Sylvester and Karen Walker, but what I didn’t realise is that NZ is also a secret mecca for thrift shopping. 

Having had a mild obsession with thrift shopping my entire life, I’m forever on the hunt for the next $4 high-end designer bargain purchase. Last week, on a weekend trip to Auckland, I was shocked to discover that lo and behold, NZ has some pretty decent thrift shopping too.

If you’re a label-obsessed, faux-rich kinda gal like me (and you’re heading to Auckland soon), it would be worth checking out a few select locales. Let’s discuss. 

151 Karangahape Road 

Auckland’s Karangahape Road is the main drag for thrifting and Thriftway is one of the first stores you’ll stumble across.

This simple but well-curated and well-priced retailer is grouped into little sections including a unisex rack and a *trendy* ’90s fashion rack. Prices start from $4 and it stocks everything from vintage Target to Gucci. 

Purchased: $20 Dolce & Gabanna skirt and $6.50 pair of Umbro shorts, which I have been searching for since the dawn of time.

Paper Bag Princess
202 Karangahape Road 

As soon as you enter, it appears to be a claustrophobic mess. Although the products are well-merchandised in sections, there’s no room to move the items on the rack. Be warned, Paper Bag Princess is not for thrift rookies. If you have the time and love to hunt for that perfect, faded, ’90s high-collar tee, then this is the place is for you. It offers an assortment of high-end, high street and true vintage. 

Purchased: The staff were super chill and prices were apparently negotiable. I was able to talk my way to an almost new 3.1 Phillip Lim sheer pink shirt for $24 and a replica Dior (circa Season 3 Carrie Bradshaw) saddle bag for $15. 

Vixen Vintage Boutique
161 Karangahape Road

If rockabilly ’50s dresses and American Western shirts are your thing, then Vixen Vintage is your new bestie. With a product offering of true vintage from the ’40s to the 2000s, this store is a mixed bag. Prices are fixed and relatively reasonable.  

Purchased: If you’re willing to browse among the hay, you may find the needle you’ve been looking for. Here I oddly picked up an old, black, pleated Rivers shirt for $29, which had an Issey Miyake feel, as well as a white ’50s mesh singlet – both of which are hard to come by in Melbourne. 

159 Ponsonby Road

If high-end labels are your jam, then Tatty’s is your consignment store, with everything from ’90s Moschino to contemporary Jil Sander. Colour blocked and divided into product categories, it’s well-organised and simple to navigate. 

The prices here are a little higher than the other thrift stores, but the quality of the products justifies the price point. If you’re lucky, your garment could also randomly be on sale.

Definitely worth the walk up the hill from the main strip of thrift stores on Karangahape Road 

Purchased: At this store I picked up a pair of Kenzo Homme pinstripe pants for $29 (on sale) and a ’90s lycra sportswear Prada top for $80, which was a rare and coveted find. 

Recycle Boutique
9 Darby Street, Auckland 

Although this store now has a home in Melbourne, the original is still a goodie to check out. With a more contemporary feel, Recycle Boutique is similar to Beacon’s Closet in New York. It’s large-scale, fast-paced and with mass volumes of contemporary high street and high-end clothing, most reasonably priced. The products range from new clothing to replica high-end. All garments are marked real or fake, with most authentic. 

If you want to walk out with an entirely new outfit, this is the store for you. The accessories-to-clothing ratio far outweighs that of other thrift stores and you’re guaranteed to find something you want, for the price you want. 

Located in the city centre, this place is easy to find and worth a browse, especially in you’re near Queens Street, the main shopping strip of Auckland. 

Purchased: At this store I scored a close-to-new, sheer Zambesi top for $70 and a new (with tags) Kappa ‘Italia’ tee for $25! 

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