It may not be the capital, but Auckland is the biggest, most populated city in New Zealand. For the vintage aficionado, Auckland boasts a plethora of historic buildings and plenty of destination vintage shopping. However, due to the city’s sprawling size, a lot of best sights and shops are a good distance away so we recommend hiring a car.
For this reason This Vintage Town Auckland will appear in two parts. First up: Auckland CBD!
This guide was kindly curated by Glory Days contributor Danielle Gardner from Devel Men & Women and first featured in our Home Issue. If you would like to purchase a paper and ink copy, CLICK HERE.
The Civic Theatre is a palace of golden opulence, and a cinematic landmark of awe and wonder. It opened in 1929, and is one of the last seven cinemas in the world in the atmospheric style, in which lights and design make it feel as if you’re seated in an outdoor auditorium at night.
Restorations took place in the late 1990s and it boasts extravagent Indian influences; including Buddhas, domed ceilings, turrets, lattice work, and an elephant frieze at the foyer entrance. The ceilings are magnificent; painted to look like the richest, deepest sky you have ever seen, including twinkling stars that appear when the lights go down. Time your visit for when a big stage show is on, so you can view all the way inside, otherwise you can only view the foyer.
Corner of Queen St and Wellesley St, Auckland CBD
Tango has been sitting pretty in Little High Street for 16 years (previously it had a shopfront in K’Rd’s iconic Saint Kevin’s Arcade). It takes pride in its high-end vintage designer collection, mainly sourced from Europe and New Zealand. Many of the items haven’t been worn more than twice, and have only ever been dry-cleaned, so they're fresh and ready to wear. Eras range from Victorian to modern and contemporary. Owner/collector Driss Lambaraa can give you a detailed history of each piece. The level of quality and class is astounding, making Tango a must-visit.
55 Little High St, an arcade off of Durham St, Auckland CBD
This dusky little blue shop, based in downtown Auckland, offers a cornucopia of vintage clothing for your perusing pleasure. CouCou stocks vintage pieces from mid-century onwards, alongside new ranges from international brands. Vintage items are sourced from the United States, Japan and Korea, so you’ll find lots of smaller sizes here. The range is festive; think prints, bold colours and beaded dresses. You’ll even find a 90s-vintage Mickey Mouse sweatshirt or two, if that’s your bag.
30 Customs St E, Auckland CBD
Rita Sue Clothing
The Rita Sue Pin Up Beauty Boutique is a one-stop shop for international and local vintage reproduction clothing, accessories, cosmetics, and everything in between. If you hanker for the classy vintage style of days gone by, but your vintage shopping comes up short in terms of wearable sizes, then vintage-inspired could be for you. Local labels include accessories by Pop That Cassette, and clothing by Rita Sue and Devel Women, and international highlights include Pin Up Girl Clothing, the Bernie Dexter label and Erstwilder accessories.
179 Karangahape Rd, St Kevin’s Arcade, Auckland CBD
K’Rd Op Shops
K’Rd is home to myriad op shops, ranging from recent second-hand to rare vintage pieces. If you’re looking for a one-stop vintage shopping area, then K’Rd is the place. Vintage stores include Metro, Paperbag Princess, Thriftworthy, Red Cross, Cheap as Chips, White Elephant, Bread & Butter Letter, The Corset Shop, Aunty Mavis and many more.
Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD
Vixen No 8
A long-standing vintage fixture of the bohemian K’Rd scene, Vixen offers a substantial menswear section, exciting fake fur and sequinned pieces for the ladies, casual tees and cut-off jeans, vintage shoes, and LOTS of cowboy boots. The stock is sourced from Dallas, Texas, which helps explain owner Alison Rothville's penchant for spangly items, boots and the odd authentic vintage cheerleader uniform.
185 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD
Real Time Retro
Real Time Retro opened 40 years ago, and has since been a mainstay of Ponsonby Road. It started as part of a whole stretch of second-hand shops along Ponsonby Road, but is the last remaining vintage shop from that era. However, a new scene has begun to blossom again. The stock in Real Time Retro includes reasonable-condition home items, collected from the 1960s to the 1990s. Lighting and light-fittings are a specialty, but there are also stereos, furniture, cookware, toys and magazines. The collection is described by the long-time owner as “items that capture the imagination and light up the room”. The expansive collection of light fittings is definitely worth a look, but be warned, this shop is not a place for claustrophobics, as it’s packed to the hilt.
74 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland
Flotsam & Jetsam
Flotsam & Jetsam is the new kid on the block. Its look and feel is completely rustic and industrial, and it stocks a mix of old and new. Vintage items such as old wooden toys, bowling pins, industrial baskets and storage, buttons and good-condition display cases are mixed with old-style metal plates, serving dishes, mugs and jugs, fit for a diner or old farmhouse atmosphere. As a delicious bonus: fresh delivery of Little & Friday donuts each Saturday morning.
84 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland
Located on the industrial border of Grey Lynn, just down from Ponsonby Rd, Mr Bigglesworthy is a colourful surprise. Its stocks refurbished mid-century furniture in beautiful styles and like-new condition. There is plenty of eye-candy on offer here; from re-covered couches in rich and bright colours, full sets of immaculate 1960s crockery, retro stereos, brightly painted wooden chairs and stunning retro stand-lamps, alongside locally made contemporary jewellery.
15 Williamson Ave, Grey Lynn, Auckland
Karakter (Furniture, Parnell)
Tucked behind a fancy Italian market and eatery in Parnell, Karakter specialises in refurbished mid-century furniture and design. The pieces showcase beautiful styles and condition. Re-covered furniture pieces are shown in earthy colours and dark leathers, and the collection also includes complementary modern art pieces for your wall.
Suite G03, 100 Parnell Rd, Auckland (Garfield St entrance)
War Memorial Museum and Wintergardens (Domain)
The Auckland Museum moved to the War Memorial building in 1929. Its Greco-Roman style is intentionally bold and noble, to commemorate the New Zealand soldiers lost in World War I. It was extended after World War II to include memorials to the soldiers lost in that conflict. The exterior of the building depicts portraits and scenes of our heroic soldiers of the past, and the bronze doors at the front are decorated with poppies, the commemorative flowers of war. Inside are collections showcasing vintage design; these include clothing, furniture, pottery, literature, toys and other lifestyle items.
The Wintergardens in the surrounding Auckland Domain were constructed after World War I to fancy up the grounds, and to give people something to do in winter. The two large glasshouses are home to some of the most exotic plants and flowers in Auckland, and there are plenty of 1920s marble baroque statues dotted around the gardens to keep a still-life artist busy all afternoon.
The Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland
Stay tuned for part two of this series: This Vintage Town – Greater Auckland coming up in a future edition.