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Kia Ora From New Zealand
By Audrey
The Queen of All Streets  

Despite its interesting rows of shops and boutiques, I must stress that Queen Street is a 'touristy' spot. One will thus see many souvenir shops along this popular street. And when I say many, I really mean many, although the products sold are more or less the same. Hence do shop around and walk into each shop. If time permits, you could walk the whole length of Queen Street and only do your shopping on your way back. This way, you'll be able to compare prices and products.

Recommended souvenir items to buy are opals, Maori carvings, black pearls, jade (green stone), and cute t-shirts depicting funny caricatures of the All Blacks or even graphics of a typical New Zealand traffic jam, which is a bunch of sheep crossing the road. Miniature sheep or kiwi birds do make nice ornamental souvenirs while sheepskin is a beautiful item to bring home to. If the rug is too big for your luggage, sheepskin cushions do make cozy replacements. Other smaller items would be kiwifruit candy, New Zealand honey (try the Manukau honey as it's excellent), soap bars, soft toys, penknife, stationery, and the likes.

To buy good quality opals, black pearls, jade and Maori carvings, head on to the Gallery Pacific. It is a trusted source and international travelers will be able to enjoy tax-free shopping. Do not fret if you have budget constraints because makeshift stalls are available by the 5-ft way and souvenirs are sold at a rather cheap rate. As you walk along Queen Street, you would probably come across a few of these stalls that sell small trinkets and souvenirs. They are cheap although the quality is not as good. However, it is possible to find some wares that look like a quality product. After all, the untrained eye may not be able to discern one from the other.

It seems like I could go on and on about Queen Street…but really, it's more than what I could explain. Perhaps I should just save the rest of the juicy news for the next time… But before I end this, I would like to give some last few shopping tips for tourists. No visit to the retail heart of Auckland, the "Queen City" of New Zealand, is complete without a relaxed browse through Queen's Arcade. In close proximity to the waterfront, joining Queen and Customs Streets, the Arcade provides tourists with leisurely shopping, offering a plethora of exciting merchandise to choose from in relaxed elegant surroundings. The two floors of exclusive specialty shops reward the discerning shopper with "something different" from Auckland.

Further down in downtown Auckland (near the Harbor) are two more shopping complexes of different personalities. One is the DFS Galleria and the other is simply called the Downtown Shopping Complex. The Galleria is a 'poshy' shopping complex, meant especially for tourist, hence the name DFS (Duty Free Shop). The products sold are rather steep unless you carry a valid plane ticket and passport to prove that you are a visitor to the country. At the Galleria, you can find some of the world's famous brands such as Calvin Klein, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gap, Guess, Givenchy, Esprit, Cartier, Gucci, and many more. There is an elegant feeling about this place, with soothing classical music played live by an elderly gentleman on the grand piano. The décor is equally classy. This is also the place to buy liquor. Jim Beam, Kahlua, and the likes are sold at reasonably low prices.

Directly opposite DFS Galleria is the Downtown Shopping Complex. It is sometimes known as the Warehouse or just Downtown. This place is a complete contrast from the Galleria. There is nothing posh about it but it is not dismal either. The Downtown Shopping Complex is like any general shopping complex with its usual supermarket, food court, boutiques, and outlets. The Warehouse occupies the top floor and it is called that because its products are sold at warehouse prices. You can get really cheap stuff here, from clothes to food to household products to just about anything!

Well, we are just about done here. If not for anything else, at least for the shopping and dining aspects at Queen Street. There is just so much to talk about that I believe there will be a sequel to this. So this is it for now.

Haere rä (goodbye).

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