Concept plans have emerged for a mega-mall at Takapuna's Shore City, topped by 360 apartments in 18-storey and 30-storey glass towers with plants cascading off the sides.
After this week's news of Auckland's 2.7ha $160 million NorthWest mall opening in Massey on October 1, prospective plans for the Shore site show 9.6ha of floorspace, equivalent to about 12 rugby fields - although much of that is the apartments.
As well as the North Shore and west Auckland developments, Tiffany and Chanel are coming to Britomart in central Auckland and Precinct Properties will soon knock down and upsize the CBD's Downtown mall.
Across the city, retail centres are being bought, sold, built and expanded in a surge of deals worth $1 billion-plus.
Experts say local malls are expanding on the back of growing demand for shopping, despite global fears that the rise of online retailing would kill them off.
In Britain one in five shops is predicted to close and one US shopping centre owner predicted traditional malls would soon be extinct - but the opposite seems to be occurring here.
"People want to go and participate in society," said Campbell Barbour, chairman of the Council of Shopping Centres and general manager of retail developer NZ Retail Property Group, which owns the land where NorthWest is rising.
"Retail has gone way beyond just wanting to buy, but it's also to do with food, hospitality and entertainment," he said.
"People like people and while I find the internet is an excellent place to become informed, aware and be product-aware, the joy of purchasing and being assisted personally is worthwhile and people enjoy it. People go to shopping centres to recreate, to people-watch, mix and mingle."
University of Auckland Associate Professor in clinical psychology Ian Lambie said malls were appealing to people who led busy lives because they were easy and accessible.
"It's a very easy and convenient way of shopping and people like things to be easy and accessible," he said.
"Why not shop in a mall where everything is there."
He said malls were time and energy efficient - it meant people didn't need to drive from shop to shop in their cars. In the winter they were warm and dry, and people were often enticed by free giveaways.
The bustling nature of malls was also part of the appeal, he said.
Tenders for Shore City close on September 15. The concept plans, the source of these images, indicate what a new buyer could do with one of Auckland's smallest malls at only 1.3ha. The area has been identified by Auckland Council as a metropolitan centre with big growth potential due to its transport links, amenities and infrastructure.
Auckland councillor Chris Darby welcomed the conceptual plans.
"That particular block has for a very long time had an unlimited height restriction. It's very encouraging. There's a lot of latent potential in Takapuna which has been waiting for a significant land holder to unleash that. It's this sort of unleashing that a lot of other developers are watching out for too," Mr Darby said.
The plans show vertical wood fins cladding a new multi-level podium, a three-level mall concourse lined with natural daylight from above and vast outdoor dining areas on a first-floor deck overlooking the Rose Garden at the Anzac Ave/Lake Rd intersection.
An outdoor podium-top deck is shown on about level six, below the apartment towers, near the luxury Sentinel apartment complex.
A new supermarket, further extensive carparking and many new food and beverage outlets are shown in the plans.
Owner Aviva Investors' Asia Pacific has sold the fund that owns the Takapuna property to one of the world's biggest fund managers, JP Morgan Asset Management, sparking the sale of Shore City.
Architecture firm Architectus presented a master plan for the property, which identifies Takapuna as a metropolitan centre, "second only to Auckland".