Hundreds of thousands of shoppers fought long queues and competitors' elbows to grab a bargain in the Boxing Day sales.
Queues formed outside many shops in Auckland and other centres yesterday as hangovers and full bellies failed to deter shoppers from spending their Christmas money.
Seventy thousand people are estimated to have rushed to Sylvia Park shopping centre to bag a bargain, according to managers. On an average weekend they see 50,000 shoppers.
Eager women hovered around the entrance of Cotton On Body in Queen St to snap up some $10 lingerie, while shoppers joined the queue of 50 people outside JB Hi-Fi.
For most the biggest hurdle was finding a car park at some of the country's busiest shopping centres, including Westfield St Lukes, Botany Town Centre, Sylvia Park in Auckland and The Base shopping centre in Hamilton.
Police urged Hamilton shoppers to park away from The Base in Te Rapa Rd yesterday morning as surrounding roads became blocked with traffic backed up for hundreds of metres past Avalon Drive and Tasman Rd. Traffic was also backed up on the Southern Motorway in Auckland as people waited to get their fashion fix at Sylvia Park.
Shopper Rebecca Savage sat in traffic for about 20 minutes to get into The Base in Hamilton and said vehicles were backed up from the east and west of the city as people tried to pour in.
Managers reported 40,000 shoppers yesterday, double the usual weekend figure.
The queues also continued inside the shopping centre.
"There were queues to pay and to try things on ... at Temt the line went the whole way of the store to buy things."
Ms Savage added that some of the sales were not as good as she had expected.
Auckland student Tia Trevor's $120 was stretching far and by sniffing out the best deals she had snapped up three items of clothing for $40. She and her friends were looking for some great shoe deals and planned to trawl the busy shops until they ran out of money.
Brisbane couple Cliff and Edith Marshall picked up a pair of brown boots for $60, despite seeing the exact pair at another larger shoe store for $320. "You've got to look around, but it's not too busy," Mr Marshall said.
Cousins Nico and Christian Lumangtad braved the winding queues at electronics store JB Hi-Fi to buy discounted DVDs and accessories.
"People are mostly buying games, printers, monitors and accessories. I asked what was most being bought and they named a couple of games," said Nico Lumangtad.
There were so many people at Bond & Bond in Queen St seeking cheap cameras, laptops and flatscreen televisions that shoppers could only enter the store when someone else left.
Karen Sau and her daughter Ashleigh said the shops had not been too hectic. "Everybody is calm, not rushing and diving for stuff," Mrs Sau said.
Westfield spokeswoman Deb McGhie said the centres got progressively busier over the day.
"The indications are it's a busy day. It is traditionally the busiest day of the year and it looks like it's maybe the case."
Sylvia Park centre manager Jonathan Douglas said it had been by far the busiest day of the year with between 60,000 and 70,000 going through the doors. He expected numbers to be slightly better than last year.
Kmart New Zealand manager Sue Smith said Thursday had been the busiest day of the year for the store but yesterday had still been steady as people scooped up the half-price Christmas decorations, boxed hampers and some summer clothing that had been reduced to clear.
* Police helped crowds at The Base in Hamilton after roads around the mall were gridlocked.
* Sylvia Park reported slightly bigger crowds than last year with between 60,000 and 70,000 going through the doors.
* Westfield Albany, St Lukes and Westgate had the busiest day of the year.
* Long queues for bargains in Queen St, including at Cotton On, The Warehouse, JB Hi-Fi, Michael Hill Jeweller, Glassons and Hallensteins.