Wellington Airport

Where to shop at “the Rock” ….

Duty Free Shops Wellington AirportFifty years is a long time in the fast-paced world of aviation. When Wellington airport first opened in 1959, the terminal building was nothing more than a refurbished aircraft hangar known affectionately by locals as “the shed”. Today over half a century later the airport has changed out all recognition. It handles over 5 million passengers a year and has just opened an architecturally breath-taking new NZ$60m (£29m) international terminal, which has been dubbed “the Rock” due to its craggy, copper-plated exterior.The airport has an ambitious 20-year plan to expand further. It sees itself as an integral part of the Kiwi capital city’s vibrant economy, which is dominated by a booming filmmaking industry. The airport’s owners have even announced plans to erect a giant “Wellywood” sign, which passengers would be able to see as their plane came into land.

But as much as Wellington international would no doubt love to welcome A-list film stars, award-winning director and hotshot producers from around the world its comparatively short runway currently makes handling long-haul international flights a virtual impossibility. Consequently, nearly 90% of passengers using the airport depart on domestic flights.

Happily however, there is an extensive range of duty-free goods offered at the airport by JR Duty Free, both in pre- and post-security departures, and in international arrivals. Those flying on domestic flights should note that they can shop in the landside departures outlets, but prices will have a local sales tax known as (GST) added to them.

A rival duty-free operator, Duty Free Stores (DFS) New Zealand (NZ), used to run an online pick-up service at the airport, where passengers would shop on the web and then collect their goods at the airport. Sadly, JR Duty Free hiked up the fee it charged DFS NZ to run the collection service, forcing the company to withdraw from the airport in February 2010.

DFS NZ’s departure from Wellington International has sparked some criticism in the local media as travellers quite rightly appreciate competition at the airport (as on the High Street) as it helps drive down prices. Nevertheless, the current sole operator JR Duty Free does stock a good range of duty-free liquor, tobacco, fragrances, cosmetics, watches, confectionery and sunglasses. See www.jrdutyfree.co.nz for a sneak peak at the full product range.

Elsewhere, one of the newest stores to open at the airport is 3 Wise Men, a successful Kiwi start-up selling 100% cotton business shirts, cufflinks, silk ties, boxer shorts, socks, leather satchels and wallets. All the shirts are priced at NZ$120 (£58); see the company’s website, www.3wisemen.co.nz, to see the selection of colours and styles on offer.Icebreaker is another Kiwi fashion retailer doing well for itself (www.icebreaker.com). It specialises in stylish, high performance outdoor wear made from 100% merino wool, which is sourced from New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Children’s lines are sold as well.

If the weather where you’re headed is a little less parky and chilling out on the beach is part of your travel plans, beachculture is the place to stock on surf lifestyle brands such as Oakley, Billabong, Tigerlily, Sea Folly and Von Zipper (www.beachculture.com.au). If you join the retailer’s online VIP members club, you will get a coupon entitling you to 20% off your next purchase in one of their stores (they have shops at all major airports in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji).

If you are fed up with seeing the same international beauty brands in duty-free, why not browse the intriguing Essity outlet (www.essity.com)? It stocks New Zealand natural skincare brands such as Trilogy, Living Nature, Antipodes, Evolu, Huni, Linden Leaves and many others. Essity also sells a range of fresh flowers, which are cleverly packed so that they fit neatly underneath aeroplane passenger seats.

Other stores currently vying for passengers’ attention at Wellington International include newsagent Whitcoulls, Sunglass Hut, CD and DVD shop Marbecks, and New Zealand souvenir store Discover NZ.

Finally, when it comes to grabbing a bite to eat, Wellington International offers a good selection of cafés and restaurants for an airport of its size. Highlights include an Asian noodle bar (Billie Chu), a curry house (Curry Capital), a sandwich bar (Fresh Bites), and a café, which serves tempting patisserie (Mojo).

Related linksWellington airport’s online shopping guide:

Check the Tax Free Travel Guides …..: