Tauranga Crossing was evacuated last night after a fire alarm went off, affecting hundreds of shoppers, diners and businesses at the city's newest megamall.
A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said the Greerton fire brigade arrived at the mall within five minutes being alerted at 8.53pm last night that a fire alarm had gone off.
But an extensive search of the shopping mall failed to find any signs of a fire, and it was unknown why the alarm was activated and put down to a false alarm, the spokesman said.
The brigade left the scene about 10 pm, he said.
Ingrid Mutsaers, who was dining out at the mall, with her partner, said it would have been a huge loss for all the shop owners and restaurants.
"I told my partner I was going to take him out for a feed and a drink. We had only just got our drinks and the alarm went off. So both skulled our drinks and went outside.
"Never got to eat the food we ordered. We did go back inside to pay for our drinks, and the lady was grateful. Man, it was insane. It felt like I was back in crazy Amsterdam."
Mutsaers said people were not allowed back into the shopping complex until 10.32pm.
Tauranga Crossing centre manager Andrew Wadsworth said the centre was declared safe at about 10pm after the fire alarm activated.
"Despite usually closing at 10pm, the restaurants in The Observatory served the remaining customers and Event Cinemas finished all movie screenings."
Tauranga shoppers lined up before dawn to be the first customers through the doors at the city's newest megamall which opened on Thursday.
Tauranga Crossing opened its doors to 45 new stores, 17 new dining options and an 800-seat cinema in stage two of the $150 million development in Tauriko.
The new mall houses some of Tauranga's newest stores including global fashion retailer H&M, lingerie store Bras N Things, City Chic and Skechers.
About 1000 people are employed in retail and restaurants inside the mall.
On completion, the 47,000sq m shopping complex will house up to 70 fashion, general merchandise and service retailers.