Discover Retail Paradise

Auckland’s Best Shopping Malls and Why We Love Them!

How old were you when you were told the shopping mall was no longer cool?

I was around 19, at university, getting a Bachelor of Art majoring in geography (the human kind), and hooking up with sanctimoniousness vegan protester who enjoyed little more in life than kale and authors that ‘you definitely would not know.’

This was way back in the day, in the early years of the new millennium, when Y2K had failed to bring down society, shopping on the internet was becoming a thing, and the slow death of the shopping mill was a foregone conclusion.

And yet, here we are, in the 2020s, with our robotic vacuums, Smart Watches, drones, and Zoom video calls, still flocking each weekend to the grand nexus of consumer capitalism. 

It turns out, the prophesized demise of the mall that river of ink has been spilled about hasn’t quite come to pass — and Auckland’s shopping malls aren’t relinquishing their cultural-institution status without a fight.

 In fact, it seems that recently, we have been awash with new mall openings and redesigns, albeit with a focus on dining and entertainment to secure their status as a social meeting place in a world obsessed with transitioning everything to the cyber realm.

I mean, when was the last time you tried to find a car park at Sylvia Park or Albany on a Sunday afternoon?

From the outdoorsy Botany Town Centre concept and Westfield’s revamped Newmarket behemoth to inner-city-chic Commercial Bay and cut-price Dressmart, these unflappable alters of commerce have begun to reflect the cultural tastes of their respective communities in an attempt to make themselves unique and connect people and place (turns out that geography degree wasn’t all a waste).

As a result, Aucklanders are re-embracing this new concept of what a shopping mall is and can be. We know we are, and proudly! Here are our favourites.

Botany Town Centre

588 Chapel Road, East Tamaki

Botany Town Centre is designed for those who want the convenience of an impeccably clean shopping mall but the aesthetics of the small main street town. It’s green and leafy, the streets and promenades are brick, the various areas look distinct and enticing, and there are even eateries with seating spills outside, Paris-style.

Dare we say Botany Town Centre is romantic? No, we won’t—but it is incredibly different from the other shopping malls in Auckland and doesn’t get enough praise.

It opened in 2001, but its thunder was stolen by the opening of Sylvia Park just a few years later. After all, who wants to head further East when you can get everything you need off the Southern Motorway? But Botany’s charm and community-minded spirit saved it (there is a 24/7 doctor’s surgery, citizens advice bureau, and public library here), along with a population explosion from new subdivisions in the surrounding area.

Now in the middle of the three-stage expansion, including the Market Square and Garden Lane concept, and set to be the terminus for the Eastern Busway rapid transit, it’s safe to say – Botany Town Centre is back, baby!

You’ll find all the essentials here with Hoyts Cinema, Farmers, Briscoes, H&M, Hallensteins and JB Hi-Fi — but nothing too ‘special’ you wouldn’t find in any of the other big shopping malls in Auckland. Well, they have the only Teppanyaki in a mall in Auckland, which makes for a great date night before the movies…

Commercial Bay

7/21 Queen Street, Auckland CBD

The shopping experience at the newly opened Commercial Bay in the CBD is uncommonly pleasant. The elevated sky terrace has beautiful views of the surrounding glass skyscrapers and harbour. The stores are a sublime mix of luxury and boutique brands that make for compelling peeking around along, and there are plenty of cute coffee spots to hand out. Two of our favourite CBD cafes are even located here.

It’s an especially useful destination for gift-hunting because there are many unusual opportunities to buy things other than clothing (not so at all malls), and many stores you won’t find anywhere else in Aotearoa. Ever-popular Dutch clothing store Scotch & Soda recently opened a fun flagship here, as did Aussie bootmaker R.M. Williams and American Calvin Klein (which sells more than just the underwear we keep seeing Justin Bieber in).

There’s Creative & Brave, an entire shop dedicated to representing local makers, artists, and designers; Città sells a carefully curated edit of textiles, furniture, and lighting; and Harbour Eats has just about every kind of food gift imaginable. Aēsop, Aotea Made, and Ecoya cover the pretty, nice-smelling self-care treat categories. At night, there are hip spots like the vibrant mezcal and tequila bar Ghost Donkey and modern NZ fine dining at Ahi.

Auckland’s newest retail, hospitality and commercial district, Commercial Bay is the shopping mall of the future, and one place we are utterly obsessed with.


151 Arthur Street, Onehunga

While many of Auckland’s best shopping malls are more focused on attracting luxe boutiques and exuding high-end appeal, Dress-Smart does one thing and one thing well: name brands at discount prices.

Based in Onehunga, Dress-Smart is NZ’s largest outlet shopping mall. It offers over 80 brands, from clothes and shoes to luggage and homewares. This isn’t the kind of place you go for brunch or a social drink with friends, but if you are looking for a stylish new top for that next big night out, a new pair of running shoes, or a new suit to impress the colleagues—and want a bargain—this mall is for you.

There are a few international fashion brands, such as Mi Piaci and Cue, and well-known sports brands, such as Adidas, Nike and Puma. You’ll also find Kiwi favourites like Glassons, Barkers, Hallensteins, Huffer and Rodd & Gunn. It can all be a little chaotic, and the figure-8 layout will surely disorientate – but Dress-Smart is truly a bargain hunter’s paradise.

Sylvia Park

 286 Mount Wellington Highway, Mount Wellington

The distinguishing factor with Sylvia Park is the outdoor offshoot known as the Dining Grove, where you can ‘dine around the world’. Eight restaurants create a buzzing energy not common in Auckland’s suburban malls—though Commercial Bay and Newmarket Westfield have since blown this out of the water with their own dining opportunities.

Built-in the early 2000s, the Sylvia Park Mall is large and has most of the chain retailers you would expect. It also has an office block and train station access. When it opened, it was the place for fashion, and it is still known as a mecca for mainstream brands with over 200 stores. 

Both Zara and H&M chose it for their first New Zealand locations. It is currently finishing up an upgrade that will incorporate a two-level Farmers department store, a range of new local and international brands (how many more can there be?)., and a fresh new dining concept.

And there is Tokyo Liquor, an entire store dedicated to Japanese Sake, Umeshu, Beer, Whiskeys and Liqueurs, so that’s worth a trip, right?

Westfield Albany

219 Don McKinnon Drive, Albany

The best shopping mall on the North Shore, Westfield Albany was opened in 2007 amidst much fanfare thanks to its new approach that was a step away from the inward-looking shopping centres built around New Zealand in the 90s.

Fuelled by tremendous population growth in the surrounding area, Albany was an instant success and has gone from strength to strength in the preceding years. It has a good mix of leisure and entertainment, emphasizing public spaces. It is still very much a suburban mall, but a pleasant one, and is home to some of New Zealand’s best-known retailers, including Farmers, Kmart, and JB Hi-Fi, as well as Event Cinemas and roughly 140 other stores.

There are kids play places at both ends of the mall, making it a firm family favourite, and an extensive array of pubs, takeaways and select dine-in options. In the ongoing Mall Walls Of Auckland, Westfield Albany shopping centre is currently being eyed up for redevelopment, which will likely see it become trendier and lifestyle focussed – but for now, it is every large Kiwi store you could imagine.

Westfield Newmarket

277/309 Broadway, Newmarket

Of the most modern Auckland malls, the newly revamped Newmarket Westfield has to be our best all-rounder and has a bit of everything. There’s a mix of shops from Barkers and Country Road to Dangerfield’s and Forever New, so you can pick up something fashionable at any price point–and indulge in some posh window-shopping even if you’re not planning on maxing out the credit card at the luxe boutiques.

The results of its years-long renovation project have seen a total transformation. In addition to a new façade and building, the interior is much brighter and outfitted with contemporary furniture and an abundance of greenery and design. There is even a two-level airbridge, rooftop dining precinct, arcade-bowling bar, gym, karaoke booths, multiple food courts, and soon-to-be-opened move theatre.

The new opening saw the quadrupling of the number of retailers and far more car parking—which is free for a certain amount of time using the Westfield app—making it New Zealand’s biggest shopping centre by indoor floor space. Some new flagship retailers include Australian furniture brand Coco Republic (their first New Zealand store) and Auckland’s first David Jones store.

Restaurants such as the Bavarian Beer Hall, Inca Ceviche, Leafe Cafe, and Master Bao offer dining options far better than your typically questionable “mall food,” guaranteeing that while you may get shopped out, you shouldn’t be hangry.

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