Auckland rates highly for safety, international cuisine and retail sales - but the city is still a "costly place to visit" with "relatively short shopping hours", according to a survey of the best places to shop.
New Zealand's largest city was rated as the 13th best shopping city in the Asia-Pacific region, ahead of Bangalore, Mumbai and Jakarta, but behind Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Beijing, in the Globe Shopper Index compiled by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.
However, despite performing dismally for its malls and boutiques, price negotiation and attractions, Auckland scored top marks for safety and was jointly ranked number 1 with Singapore and Hong Kong in that category. It also scored highly for seasonal sales, use of foreign language and international cuisine.
The index ranked 25 cities under five main categories: shops, culture and climate, hotels and transport, affordability, and convenience. Hong Kong came up tops with a total score of 69, Kuala Lumpur 65 and Shanghai 63. Auckland got the 15th highest overall score of 50 out of 100.
"Many travellers venture to New Zealand to enjoy the great outdoors, the extraordinary landscape and a shot of extreme-sport adrenaline," said the authors of a report that accompanied the survey. "Yet it also has plenty to offer those looking for retail therapy, thanks to its shopping districts and sales season."
However, Chinese tourist Xinlin Liu, who was in Auckland last week for three nights as part of a 12-day North Island tour, said she found the city "boring" as a shopping destination. She said she could not shop because all the shops were closed by the time her daily tours finished at 7pm.
Cathy and Kary Chung, from Hong Kong, described their shopping experience as "boring" and "limited".
"All the malls have the same shops which carry the same brands, and branded goods are also more expensive than back home," said Cathy, 19, a business diploma student.
Jason Hill, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development acting general manager, said: "Research shows that people from Asia come to New Zealand for the natural environment and unique cultural experiences. Shopping is not a key motivator for people to choose to holiday here."
Newmarket Business Association chief executive Ashley Church said businesses could not justify opening longer hours because of Auckland's smaller population compared to the likes of Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.
1. Hong Kong (68.5 points)
2. Kuala Lumpur (65)
3. Shanghai (63)
4. Beijing (60.6)
5. Singapore (60.1)
6. Sydney (58.5)
13. Auckland (50.1)
Auckland strengths: Safety, seasonal sales and foreign language use.
Challenges: Expensive, short shopping hours.
Source: Global Shopper Index