During our trip to the main Cathedral Square, we noticed alot of unique shopping items. It appeared some people were here from as far as Mongolia, selling their wares with unique items that didn't seem to scream New Zealand to us. For the most part however, one clear voice came out from all the vendors. It was from the guy I will just have to call the Mad Hatter, for lack of a real name. He did a very good job of calling out how cold I looked without protection on my head, built rapport by talking about rugby since I had an Italian Rugby Jersey on, and then continued to close the sale by offering me a killer deal on a hat to cover my cold head.
What to buy: A hat
What to pay: Originally $10NZD, I was able to negotiate it down to $5NZD
Obviously, as a rugby fan, I was as close as possible to Mecca when it comes to my sport. Canterbury, New Zealand would be done a disservice if you said they were merely fans. Rugby is definitely the national past time, and therefore you will find many different places around town that sell rugby souvenirs. Some of the high priced Tax-Free shops get a large tourist demand, and the specialty shops like Canterbury of New Zealand also get a good amount of traffic. I however found a great little rugby shop just off Cathedral Square with much better pricing on their jerseys and whatnot.
What to buy: I chose to buy an Otago Rugby jersey, which was last season's official uniform for about 60% off the price of the current jersey. What a steal! Most jerseys go for 150 NZD, and I got mine for about 45.
What to pay: 45-150NZD per jersey.
I found this wonderful Map store on New Regent Street.
Would you believe they have a original chart of New Zealand created by Captain Cook's crew?
It has several notable mistakes, but it's very interesting to see.
The Cathedral Square Market, situated next to Starbucks and near the i-Site centre, is open from 9am to 4pm Wednesday through Saturday. These dates (and hours) may change to accommodate cruise ships. The Market boasts close to 70 stalls selling a treasure trove of products to visitors.
Find wood carvings, jewellery, clothing, sheepskins, possum skins, healthcare products and more. A variety of food stalls sell anything from German sausages to Asian dishes.
What to buy: Some of the more eye-catching products include beautifully designed Alpaca jumpers and pendants carved from greenstone or cow bone in traditional Maori designs.
What to pay: The jumpers were selling for $59 and the pendants averaged out at about $60.
They do sell souvenirs in The Inkwell Gift Shop in New Regent Street, the most colourful street on the tramway route, things like NZ made greenstone and sterling silver jewellery, prints, ceramics, stone and wood carvings as well as other things like photo frames, celtic jewellery, wax seals, calligraphy pens and inks. But that is not why the shop is famous, and why it will immediately attract you.
The bears are the stars. One huge one is sitting in front of the little two storey shop, at an old school desk. Others sometimes climb out through the window in the first floor, either over a ladder or on a knotted bed sheet. More of them are watching the scene through the windows, and another lot of them are posing in the window of the basement, and many, many others are sitting everywhere in the shop. You will surely not find another shop with a bigger choice of bears, and some are so wonderful that people travel to Christchurch and this shop only to purchase a bear.
The owners Roz and Phil sell bears of all price ranges, including Steiff bears from Germany and the sensational NZ handmade Robin Rive Bears which are so very different, every bear being a great personality with its special hobby. Even if you cannot afford to buy such a masterpiece-bear - have a look at them, they are too wonderful to be ignored.
What to buy: A bear, of course... But I am very playful and a bit childish... ;-) So there are a lot of other things to chose from, as already mentioned above.
What to pay: From a dollar for a postcard to 300 NZ-dollars for a Robin Rive Bear.
Fabric Vision and also other fabrics shops (Spotlight, sewing machines shops etc.) have a great selection of Kiwiana prints which make great cushion covers, table cloths, duvet covers, aprons, napkins etc. etc. If you want you can even sew a blouse or dress from them.
There are prints of all things that make New Zealand unique: the kiwi, kiwifruit, penguins, fantails, woodpigeons, pohutukawas, the kowhai, kaka beak, ferns, landscapes etc. There are also prints which are great for kids.
One metre costs about NZ$ 20 or a little less.
Of course, they also have "normal" fabrics, and some Australiana prints, but a NZ tourist should go there for the Kiwiana prints.
Although the shop's location is still noted with 141 Cashel Street you will not find it there anymore. It has moved to Bath Street, located right behind the New World Supermarket (Colombo St).
What to buy: Kiwiana fabrics by the metre
What to pay: NZ$ 20 or under per metre
DressSmart is an outlet shopping centre right across Hornby Mall. They advertise with savings of 30 to 70% off normal retail prices, and often you can make really great bargains.
The most famous brands they sell are Barkers, Hallensteins, Rodd & Gunn, Jeans West, Just Jeans, levis, Puma, Diesel, Andrea Biani, and also Sunnies Direct, Modern Bags and Watch Smart.
I think CD's are not cheaper than anywhere else.
If you are exhausted from looking around there are also some food outlets but really in a limited number.
Open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm.
Hornby Mall on the opposite side of the road is rather a small mall, compared to Westfield Riccarton, Northlands, The Palms, Eastgate etc. but actually they are expanding and also modernising the complex.
Good bus connection from the city centre (Bus Exchange) and Riccarton Mall, especially the MetroStar. Also buses #83 and 84 pass at Riccarton Mall AND Horby, just make bigger detours between the malls.
What to buy: Clothes, shoes, sunglasses, bags and suitcases.
If you want to buy nice souvenirs and not just kitsch, woollen jerseys or merino-possum knitwear, sheepskin and leather products, paua, jade, silver and gold jewellery, napkins, or t-shirts, you should still start to look around in the big souvenirs shops around Cathedral Square and on Colombo Street north of the Square, and only if you do not find what you want go to other more expensive shops. I also recommend to have a look at the start of your trip in Auckland or Christchurch, so you already know what is on offer and how much it costs, so you can make better decisions about which things you should buy during your trip and which can wait until the end when you are back in the cities again.
Sure, they sell some kitsch but they also have really nice things on offer, and as they sell and stock a lot more most things are cheaper than in smaller souvenir shops or even smaller countrytowns. As I need birthday and Christmas gifts for friends and relatives overseas, I am a regular customer of those shops. I mostly start in the 3-storey-shop at the corner Colombo/Gloucester Sts (DF), and then carry on...
For example, the price difference of paua shells is extreme. When they once cost nearly NZ$20 in a very nice shop in Cashel Street you could buy them for about NZ$12 at the Colombo/Gloucester Streets shop.
The Duty Free Shops next to the Square have crazy prices. I have the impression they are designed as tourist traps for the hurry-hurry in-three-days-around-the-world travellers. For example they sell skin-care products which you get far cheaper in any normal drugstore or pharmacy, and it goes on with the rest.
My favourite shop for sheepskin rugs on the Square has unfortunately closed down (Feb. 2007).
At BONZ (corner Colombo/Gloucester St, left/clothes) nothing is cheap - well, perhaps the design buttons... - but absolutely unique.
Buy wine in supermarkets, or directly from the producer, not in souvenir shops! For your stay in NZ consider buying wine in two- or three-litre casks, the quality is ok.
What to buy: I already named some things in the general description.
Mostly tourists need lightweight gifts, so unfortunately the great NZ decor tiles are no real option... Lightweight, cheap and nice are tea towels, paua jewellery and shells, health products, creams, kiwifruit and mud soaps, not so cheap but very nice are possum-merino shawls and hats (and you save NZ wildlife and trees!) and woodcraft. Further: other jewellery, flax products, fleece jerseys and jackets, etc.
Absolutely unique is the FRONZ jewellery which is handmade near Auckland but also sold in souvenir shops. They have earrings and pendants in fern shape (fronds - that is where the name comes from), and the special thing about them is that real fronds are dipped in gold or silver, so every piece is unique.
Cashel Street is one of Christchurchs main shopping areas being a vehicle free zone (except delivery ones). Cashel St has everything from Ballantynes department store to brand name shops such as Nike, Sony and EB Software.
What to buy: There are options on music, jewellery and travel plus The Bog Irish Bar down near the Bridge of Rememberance. Around the corner from The Bog is Christchurch's strip with several bars and cafes, many open until the wee hours.
A couple of Arcades sit off Cashel st and each has its own collection of small stores and food options.
New Regent Street was the type of small street that was the forerunner to the big Mall type complexs seen elsewhere. A number of different shops lining either side of a small inner city street give you a wide variety of places to eat, drink and shop - or maybe just have a browse. The tram has one of its stops down here so you can drop off here for a coffee and relax with something to eat and watch the world go by bewfore jumping back on the tram.
What to buy: Shops sell items as varied as 2nd hand books, Coffee, Antique maps, Indian Food, Mexican food and Holidays.
Earthquake update 2011/2012
Despite having lost his unique shop Colin Johnson and his delicacies have not been lost to Christchurch. He opened shop at the Re:Start Container Mall (Cashel Street) in the city centre. This surely does not compare to the yesteryear feel of the old shop but the man himself is the same, and he marvels about having straight shelves now, and the goods he sells are as fantastic as ever. But as great as it is, Colin Johnson is determined to rebuild at the old site in Colombo Street as soon as this area is open again.
If you step into Johnson's Grocery on Colombo Street, you feel like stepping back in time. If you are after something and do not get it at Johnson's - well, then you will probably not get it anywhere in Christchurch.
The shop itself is like a long and high hallway, with shelves from the floor up to the ceiling, an antique counter, and some additional tables which are crammed with the most delightful groceries from around the world, and other things are stacked on the floor. There is not a lot of space for several customers at a time.
The grocer needs a ladder to reach all the treasures that are neatly stored on the shelves, and he really knows exactly which thousands of goods he stores in the shop, and where they are. You ask, and within seconds you get your item.
Like in the good old days the grocer - in a clean apron, of course - weighs out sweets from the jars on the counter, or slices cheese from the block. If you ask for a certain kind of tea, he can tell you which one you probably might like best - he seems to have tested them all!
The window is used as an additional shelf, with stacks of tea tins and boxes. Outside some blackboards are leaning against the window, informing the customers about the new arrivals like Jaffa cakes, wagon wheels and toffees, and specials. Even if I do not need anything, every time I pass I just have to stop and have a look at this amazing place.
The grocery opened in 1911 as Leigh and Co. Stan Johnson bought the business in 1949, and his son Colin has been working in the shop since 1957 - and he is still there today, the friendly man with the neat apron!
Sometimes I think this shop is as much a tourist attraction as it is a grocery. It is just the best one I have ever seen. It makes me think of the grocery in the village where I grew up, and which closed down when the lady-owner died. In Germany we called such groceries where you got everything "Tante-Emma-Laden" - Aunt Emma shop - for its familiar atmosphere. So Johnson's would be a kind of "Uncle Colin Shop" LOL
What to buy: Swiss chocolate, Italian amarettini and vinegar, French snails, Scottish marmalade, English sweets, German biscuits, Turkish delights, Sri Lankan tea, coffee from Colombia... Mustards, vinegars, condiments... Just every grocery you can think of! I think it would be the perfect place for homesick people who could feel less homesick when getting groceries from home...
The shop is open Monday to Saturday.
Photo 2 shows the new after-earthquake shop in the Re:Start Container Mall in Cashel Street.
Head to DF Souveniers shop if you are looking for some good bargains to bring home as souveniers for your family, friends and colleagues.
There are many items for purchase and ranging from different prices which meets every budget.
Look out for their discount items.
We brought glass coaster, shotglasses, sweets, chocolate, cushion, t-shirts.
What to buy: Other items for consideration are the All Blacks T-Shirts, soft toy, caps, jackets, sweaters, mugs, sheepskin products, skin car products, honey, royal jelly, bags, jersey.
Once friends of us from overseas arrived without most of their luggage. Lucky them that we could help out with most things as they did not get a lot of money from the airline to buy clothes and other essentials.
We went to K-Mart to get underwear and socks, and such things are incredibly cheap there, also t-shirts, sports gear, swimsuits and shoes, and the quality is not too bad. Just nothing is really flash or funky - but in such a case of lost luggage you do not care. And lucky them - their bags arrived two days later already. But they still have their K-Mart underwear ;-)
The K-Mart stores also sell all kinds of household and garden items, decoration (especially for Christmas), wool, sewing stuff, bicycles, appliances, toys, sweets, creams, toothbrushes - just nearly everything you can imagine, and most things are really cheap. Perhaps the products would not fulfill your highest expectations but for bridging some days without your personal belongings especially the clothes are perfectly fine.
K Marts locations in Christchurch:
Riccarton Mall (Westfield Riccarton, 129 Riccarton Road)
Shirley (corner of New Brighton & Golf Links Road)
This is Italian shopping at its best. Pasta, cheese, salami, parma ham, olive oil, canned tomatoes and beans, olives, coffee beans, grissini sticks, Bacio chocolates, a big selection of wines, and all the famous spirits and liquors like grappa, Fernet Branca, amaretto etc. Just everything you need to feel like in Italy, have a great antipasti platter at home or cook all those Italian delights.
Most products come at surprisingly reasonable prices, and many are cheaper than in the local supermarkets.
Integrated in the shop is a nice café and pizzeria for lunch and coffee. The menu is small but everything is delicious, especially the super thin crust pizzas and the fresh bread.
The red brick building is surrounded by (new) Roman arches which gives it a touch of colosseum, so immediately makes you think of Italy and the splendour of its food that is available in the shop and the café.
Open Mon-Fri 8am - 6pm
Sat/Sun 8am - 4pm
You can find outlets of this Mediterranean shop in Nelson and Wellington. And if you do not live there you can order online, just check the website.
Although Fazazz is a great shop if you want to purchase a Ferrari or just admire stunningly beautiful vintage cars I have relocated this tip from the shopping category to the Things to Do list. Please check there.
What to buy: Perhaps a Rolls Royce or the red Ferrari... ;-)
What to pay: From 18,000 to 450,000 NZ$ when I was there the last time LOL
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