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Most shops are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5:30pm, with many staying open late on Thursday and Friday. Saturday hours are normally 10am to 4pm, although some shops stay open all day. Many are also open on Sunday. Several free shopping guides are available at visitor centers.

Tip: If you have the store mail your purchases back home, you won't have to pay the 15% GST -- and you won't have to lug them all around the country.

Duty-Free Delights

DFS Galleria Custom House, Customs and Albert streets (tel. 0800/388-937 in NZ, or 09/308-0700; www.dfsgalleria.com), is New Zealand's most luxurious duty- and tax-free department store. It offers complimentary shuttle service, free delivery of purchases to the airport, and currency exchange. It's open daily from 10am to 10pm. For a list of all New Zealand duty-free stores, pick up the free Duty Free & GST Free Shopping Guideat the airport or visitor centers. If you shop at an off-airport duty-free store, be sure you have your airline ticket with you.

Antiques Hunting

The most popular concentrations of antiques stores are around the Epsom area and in Parnell, Remuera, Ponsonby, and the inner city. Lord Ponsonby Antiques, 86 Ponsonby Rd., Grey Lynn (tel. 09/376-6463), is as good a place as any to start. Piper Antiques, 31A Sale St. (tel. 09/376-9000), is another good hunting ground.

In Parnell, Murdoch McLennan, 377 Parnell Rd. (tel. 09/309-4757), has a beautiful range of English antiques; and a few doors down, Baran de Bordeaux, 367 Parnell Rd. (tel. 09/307-1201), is filled with exquisite imported from the 17th- through the 19th-century French antiques and decorative items.

Look for John Stephens Antiques, 15 Shore Rd., Epsom (tel. 09/529-1660); and Country Antiques, 489 Manukau Rd. (tel. 09/630-5252). In Remuera, look for Antiquities, 89 Great South Rd. (tel. 09/520-0353), Abbey Antiques, 87 Great South Rd. (tel. 09/520-2045), and several others on the same stretch of Great South Road. And if you like old china -- especially English brands -- you'll adore fossicking at Babushka, 156 Garnet Rd., Westmere (tel. 09/378-9226).

Great Tastes

To satisfy your gourmet tastes or choose tasty morsels for a picnic, head for Kapiti Shop, 136-142 Fanshawe St. (tel. 09/377-2473; www.kapiticollection.co.nz), which has a huge selection of premium New Zealand cheeses. Make sure you try Kapiti's ice cream -- it's divine! Zarbo, 24 Morrow St., Newmarket (tel. 09/520-2721; www.zarbo.co.nz), carries an excellent range of gourmet items. Pandoro Pannetteria, 427 Parnell Rd., Parnell (tel. 09/358-1962; www.pandoro.co.nz), and 290 Dominion Rd., Mount Eden (tel. 09/631-7416), is an authentic Italian bakery offering organic, additive-free products. And enjoy the sights and sounds of an authentic working fish market at Auckland Fish Market, Sanfords, Jellicoe Street, near Viaduct Harbour (tel. 09/379-1490; www.aucklandfishmarket.co.nz). It has a daily early-morning auction and a seafood school.

Going to Market

For an excellent Pacific experience, visit the Otara Market, Newbury Street, Otara (tel. 09/274-0830), held Saturday from 6am to noon. It's the largest Polynesian market in the world, with larger-than-life personalities, exotic foods and smells, wonderful tapa cloth, flax mats and baskets, and bone carvings.

Avondale Market, Avondale Racecourse, Ash Street (tel. 09/818-493; www.avondalesundaymarkets.co.nz), is held on Sunday from 6am to noon and has a strong Polynesian and Asian influence. It features a mass of fruit, vegetables, new and used clothes, and bric-a-brac. The Aotea Square Markets, The Edge, Queen Street (tel. 09/309-2677), take place Friday and Saturday from 10am to 6pm; they feature New Zealand fashion labels, retro gear, foods, fabric, jewelry, and furniture. There is an excellent City Farmers' Market held every Saturday morning from 8am to noon in the large courtyards behind the Britomart Transport Centre. The French Style Market is held every Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 1pm at La Cigale, 69 St. Georges Bay Rd., Parnell.

Neighborhoods

Inner City -- Shoppers seeking the latest in cutting-edge fashion and design can pick up the pocket-size Auckland Fashion Guide from visitor information centers and then head for the High Street-Vulcan Lane-O'Connell Street areas (www.hotcity.co.nz) -- the place to go for the best in New Zealand fashion houses, accessories, art -- not to mention coffee and interesting food. This is where you'll find international fashion hotshots Karen Walker (www.karenwalker.co.nz), Zambesi (www.zambesi.co.nz), and World (www.worldbrand.co.nz). Also here is the excellent bookstore Unity (tel. 09/307-0731; www.unitybooks.co.nz). The lovely and innovative Pauanesia, 35 High St. (tel. 09/366-7282; www.pauanesia.co.nz), sells the very best in contemporary New Zealand and Pacific homeware. The Vault, 13 High St. (tel. 09/377-7665; www.thevaultnz.com), is the perfect place for reasonably priced New Zealand and international design items -- everything from jewelry to stationery to small gifts. The new Chancery shopping area (tel. 09/368-1863; www.chancery.net.nz) is also here. It's packed with international brand stores and exclusive fashion names. If you're a Lord of the Ringsfan, check out the big range of movie collectibles and jewelry at DMC, 61 High St. (tel. 09/303-4757; www.lotrshop.co.nz).

All manner of middle-of-the-road stores line Queen Street from top to bottom, but I think you find much better shops down the little side streets running off it; here you'll often find excellent specialty shops, such as Compendium, 5 Lorne St. (tel. 09/300-3212; www.compendium.co.nz), which has an impressive collection of quality New Zealand craft work. It schedules regular exhibitions of glass, jewelry, pottery, wood, sculpture, clothes, and furniture. Fingers, 2 Kitchener St. (tel. 09/373-3974; www.fingers.co.nz), is Auckland's most established New Zealand jewelry collective. Kura Gallery, 188 Quay St. (tel. 09/302-1151; www.kuragallery.co.nz), has a great range of original New Zealand art and crafts. There are also a wide range of retail outlets and eateries under construction as part of the Britomart development behind the Britomart Transport Centre; visit www.britomart.org for more details.

Ponsonby/Herne Bay/K'Road -- Although better known for its wealth of eateries, Ponsonby also has some terrific specialty design stores and boutiques, with an emphasis on housewares, fashion, and furniture. Karangahape Road is worth browsing for its diversity and cultural mix, but don't expect high-quality goods here; it's better known for art galleries, featuring both the quirky and the bizarre. Check out www.ponsonbyroad.co.nz and www.kroad.com for details.

Parnell/Newmarket -- Shopping Parnell is a special experience, albeit an expensive one, with everything from Timberland to Cartier. You'll find all sorts of exclusive gifts in a rabbit's warren of little historic buildings, restored to picturesque splendor, that stretch along a mile of Parnell Road. Click on www.parnell.net.nz for more information about this area. Visit Newmarket's latest hot spots, Nuffield and Teed streets, for the high-end stores of iconic international and Kiwi fashion brands like Karen Walker, Trellise Cooper, Kate Sylvester, and Zambesi. There are a number of excellent cafes and restaurants here too -- the ideal place to pause between parcels. I like to go here just to look at the beautifully designed stores and to watch "the pretty people." Altogether, Newmarket (www.newmarket.co.nz) has over 40 designer fashion stores and New Zealand's largest concentration of shoe stores -- 24 of them! In this area also look out for the Poi Room, 17 Osborne St., Newmarket (tel. 09/520-0399; www.thepoiroom.co.nz), for high-quality New Zealand art, design, jewelry, prints, glass, and textiles.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.