Queues for Bayfair Shopping Centre's newest shops stretched from near the centre of the mall, out the front door and wrapped around the side of the entrance as the first stage of its $115m redevelopment was revealed.
By sunrise, a line of hundreds of mostly young women - many in the rain - had formed outside new store Mecca Maxima.
The big brand make up outlet was one of more than 30 retailers, including Peter Alexander and Cotton On Mega, that opened their doors for the first time as part of yesterday's events.
A blessing was held at 7am, with iwi members leading a crowd of about 40 investors, managers, and team members through prayer down the wide avenues of the new section of mall.
Children from Te Kura o Matapihi performed with song and dance before speeches from dignitaries and those involved in the project.
Meanwhile, Mount Maunganui woman Caro Worthington secured the first spot in the increasingly expanding line of shoppers.
Mecca Maxima, like others, was not expected to open until 9am but Worthington was up at 5.30am to ensure her position.
When asked why, she replied: "Because, finally!"
"I'm very excited. That's why I'm first in line," she said.
"We moved down from Auckland where we finally got it, but moved. So whenever someone we knew, or one of us, would go overseas we put always put in an order or try to stock up."
Jessica Jones, third in line, agreed.
"It's about time, though, for Bayfair to start growing."
Other new shops to Bayfair include Dotti, Macpac, Portmans, Jacqui E and The Cosmetic Clinic.
Rodd & Gunn and Max have expanded into larger stores and Merric, The Coffee Club and Dominos have returned. A new Countdown supermarket has also opened.
Shopper Cathrine Grobler, 18, said it was really cool there were so many stores to draw people to Bayfair and keep them there "rather than coming here for one thing then going into town for something else".
By 8am, the Mecca Maxima queue stretched into the car park before wrapping around the side of the building.
The opening was blamed on social media for heavy traffic delays affecting commuters on State Highway 29A, Maunganui Rd and Hewletts Rd but police said they were not aware of any traffic issues in the area other than a broken down van.
Isobel Heasman said she didn't mind waiting in line because she was a big fan. Friend Hannah Booth agreed, saying Bayfair's new stage and new shops were a good thing.
Bayfair's centre manager Steve Ellingford told the Bay of Plenty Times he was immensely proud to have given customers "what they want".
"They want more fashion, more dining and more lifestyle. So this is a little bit of a milestone," Ellingford said.
A dining area and cinema complex are expected as part of the redevelopment's next stages.
AMP property general manager Mark Kirkland paid tribute to local iwi Ngāi te Rangi for its involvement and said: "This is another great way to invest in the local community".
"We have had upwards of 400 construction jobs and centre completion will deliver another 500 jobs within the local community, which is fantastic to support."