Published: April 2009
By Tanya Jensen-Hawver
Auckland’s thriving boutique culture highlights the "new" in New Zealand.
Once known mainly for wine and sailboats, Auckland has recently undergone a style makeover. Owing to financial support from the city and a vogue for renovating historic buildings, the town is now home to a lively boutique scene. In its newly anointed style neighborhoods—Newmarket and Ponsonby among them—you’ll find shop after shop offering everything from one-of-a-kind, design-driven clothes and furnishings to vintage time pieces, contemporary art, and gourmet chocolates. The best news?Most won’t give you couture sticker shock. Below, we spotlight the town’s top addresses.
FASHION A former barrister-turned-fashion guru, Fenella Becroft’s Hepburn boutique pays homage to Katharine Hepburn’s style, or what it might be in the 21st century. Becroft’s picks include knits from Tokyo-based cult label Sacai (designed by a Comme des Garçons alum) as well as Yohji Yamamoto, Un-Demi, Antipast, and Cacharel. 186A Ponsonby Rd., Ponsonby; 64-9/361-5387. Don’t be fooled by World’s civilized ambience: inside a 1920’s concert hall, you’ll find high-drama tailored club wear. Not your style?Look for rare vintage accessories, like Chanel fur cuffs and Prada coin purses. 57 High St., Center; 64-9/373-3034; www.worldbrand.co.nz. Business is booming for Karen Walker, the country’s most famous designer, who recently revamped her boutiques around town. But it’s at her Newmarket ﬂagship that celebs and fashion addicts swoop up her high-waisted pants, sweater dresses, and tailored jackets in offbeat colors. Check out her menswear, only available here, as well as Swanndri, a venerable, countrified Kiwi label that got a stylish update from Walker. 6 Balm St., Newmarket; 64-9/522-4286; www.karenwalker.com. Dapper designer Murray Crane of Crane Brothers houses his smartly tailored suits and shirts, vintage shades and cuff links, and bespoke services in a setting worthy of an old-world gentleman—hardwood ﬂoors, antique glass cabinets, and leather club chairs. De Bretts Hotel, 2–4 High St., Center; 64-9/377-5333; www.crane-brothers.com.
INTERIOR DESIGN Lighten up your look with Eon Design Centre’s hypermodern lighting by native David Trubridge, luxe linens, and outdoor furniture—with international shipping to boot. 20 Beaumont St., Freemans Bay; 64-9/368-4860; www.eon.co.nz.
ART Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland’s arts district showcases emerging and established contemporary artists—New Zealanders Colin McCahon, Karl Maughan, and Shane Cotton, as well as Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly. St. James Bldg., Kitchener and Wellesley Sts., Center; 64-9/303-4290; www.gowlangsfordgallery.com.
ACCESSORIES Founded by artisans, Fingers represents over 40 New Zealand jewelry designers and carries everything from wedding bands to quirky sculptural pendants. Look for Roy Mason’s ornate rings in pink gold. 2 Kitchener St., Center; 64-9/373-3974; www.fingers.co.nz.
VINTAGE Stephen Richardson’s store, Cognoscenti, is a vintage treasure trove —as the owner calls it, "a toy shop for the man who has everything." Pick up a 1950’s Rolex, a 17th-century sea chart, or a present-day souvenir, such as a portrait painting by Kiwi native John Appleton. Don’t miss the racks of menswear designed by Richardson’s son (also named Stephen). 279 Parnell Rd., Parnell; 64-9/303-2186; www.cognoscenti.co.nz.
SWEETS Watch the team at Devonport Chocolates handcraft gourmet confections in their factory out back. There are dozens of varieties to choose from, but locals swear by the chocolate trufﬂe log, which comes with one of sixteen centers—brandy and ginger, port and prune, and espresso among them. 17 Wynyard St., Devonport; 64-9/445-6001.
Take the 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland to Waiheke Island (www.waihekewine.co.nz), which is lined with olive groves and packed with restaurants and boutique wineries offering a wide variety of domestic vintages. At Te Whau vineyard’s cliff-top restaurant, there’s an award-winning wine list and 360-degree views of the bay. Or set aside a few hours for nearby Mudbrick Vineyard’s 10-course tasting menu, which pairs house reds and whites with small plates like crayfish-and-ricotta ravioli and paua sashimi.