North Island Shopping, North Island
Concierge.com's insider take:
It may not be considered much of a shopping destination, but New Zealand has a growing number of fashion designers and artisans whose work is getting international recognition. Many are based in Auckland's city center.
Karen Walker, whose fashions have been worn by the likes of Sienna Miller, Claire Danes, and Cate Blanchett, is New Zealand's most famous womenswear designer. Her pieces range from classics such as double-breasted trench coats to minidresses with pop art graphics and candy-colored nylon anoraks. Her flagship store (there are two other branches) also has a good selection of funky jewelry and sunglasses (15 O'Connell St.; 64-9-309-6299; www.karenwalker.com). Another chic clothing line is put out by Elisabeth Findlay of Zambesi. Her fashions are up-to-the-minute trendy—lots of bubble hems and cropped jackets for women; skinny pants for men—but the craftsmanship and somber palette keep them elegant. Her main shop in the city's center stocks more outré, deconstructed pieces from her sister Margarita Robertson's label, Nom*D (Vulcan Lane at O'Connell St.; 64-9-303-1701; www.zambesi.co.nz).
Unique jewelry is crafted in New Zealand from native materials like paua (abalone shell) and pounamu (greenstone, or New Zealand jade). High-end pieces incorporating rose, yellow, and white gold, along with semiprecious stones, can be found at Fingers, a jewelers' collective started in the 1970s (2 Kitchener St.; 64-9-373-3974; www.fingers.co.nz). Pauanesia also carries a variety of authentic pounamu pendants and paua jewelry in traditional designs—along with locally printed textiles and other Pacific Island crafts (35 High St.; 64-9-366-7282).
For a gift to bring home, it's hard to beat a terrific Kiwi wine. If you can't get to the wineries in the southern North Island or the South Island, drop by Caro's Wne Merchants, in the neighborhood of Parnell. Oenophile brothers John and Richard Caro stock New Zealand wines from small boutique producers as well as eclectic European labels—so you'll find treasures here that you won't see at the duty-free shops (114 St. Georges Bay Rd.; 64-9-377-9974; www.caros.co.nz; closed Sun.).