The best New Zealand supermarkets offer a superb variety of food at fair prices. They also provide excellent service and a pleasant shopping experience. But with so many stores to choose from, it can be hard to know where to shop, especially if you’re a newcomer to New Zealand.
From locally owned grocery stores to major supermarket chains, the best place to buy food in New Zealand may vary depending on your needs.
- Are you looking for a supermarket chain with great discounts?
- Do you appreciate personal service?
- Or do you need a store with a variety of specialist products because you have dietary requirements?
- Are you looking to top up with just a few things in a small town?
In this article, we’ve listed the main New Zealand supermarkets and a range of alternative stores where you’re likely to pick up groceries on your travels. We’ve also shared some insights to help you decide which stores might be best for you.
And if you’re travelling to NZ, read on for tips to help you save money on food during your holiday!
Did you know? Most of the supermarkets listed in this article are independently owned and operated. When you shop at one, you are supporting a Kiwi family.
Purchasing Groceries in NZ
If you’re travelling to New Zealand, we recommend you buy food and snacks from supermarkets. This is significantly cheaper than eating at cafes, bakeries and restaurants!
Even if you’re not staying in a campervan or caravan, most holiday parks have shared kitchens and BBQs, and budget motels and hotels usually have kitchenettes.
If you don’t like cooking, you can still save money by purchasing ready-made meals, precooked chicken, snacks, tea and coffee at a supermarket rather than from cafes.
You may also want to check out our 101 New Zealand travel FAQs guide for first-time visitors that’s filled with helpful tips for your travel.
Of course, it’s always lovely to enjoy a meal out; sometimes, those foodie experiences make up our favourite memories from our travels. Plus, eating at small restaurants can also be a great way to support local businesses.
But finding a balance between eating in and out is a great way to save money while still enjoying some time out from cooking.
If you’re staying in an area with no restaurants you’re excited to eat at – or would prefer a cosy night in – it’s ideal to be able to stay in and cook.
And, of course, there’s nothing like a picnic in the great outdoors of New Zealand!
The Three Biggest Supermarket Brands in New Zealand
New Zealand has a number of recognisable supermarket chains. In larger cities and towns, you’ll be able to choose your favourite store, while smaller towns might just have one option.
Join us as we introduce you to the main supermarkets in NZ…
Owned by Foodstuffs, Pak’n’Save is New Zealand’s best budget supermarket. There are 56 Pak’n’Save stores in New Zealand, with 17 in the country’s largest city, Auckland.
Each store has an undecorated warehouse vibe that prepares you for the discount shopping ahead. Keep your eyes peeled for $1 deals, large bulk items and bargain boxes for the best discounts.
These stores carry practically all of the common household brands that you’re used to, so you’ll likely find what you’re looking for.
Sticking to simplicity, Pak’n’Save customers also pack their own bags at checkout.
Shopping at Pak’n’Save certainly isn’t fancy, but it does come with good deals and quality food, making it a favourite among many Kiwi families.
Pro Tip: Some Pak’n’Save stores have on-site petrol stations. By shopping in-store, you’ll get a voucher for discounted fuel.
Countdown is another relatively affordable supermarket in New Zealand.
It’s a step up from Pak’n’Save as it has a more organised, decorated interior. We also find their staff to be more knowledgeable and able to point us in the direction of the products we’re searching for.
The biggest Countdown supermarkets are usually in large cities, where you can stock up on groceries before heading to more remote towns.
Alongside a vast range of food products, many Countdowns have an in-store pharmacy and other home and travel essentials.
You may be familiar with Countdown if you’re from Australia, as it’s in the Woolworths group. In fact, the logo is the same, and the store layout is similar, so you’ll feel right at home on your trip!
Did you know? Countdown has a loyalty programme called OneCard. This gives extra discounts on your purchases and lets you earn vouchers as you spend. They’ve also partnered with BP and G.A.S, where the OneCard gives you 3-6 cents off every litre when you spend $100 or more on groceries in a week.
New World stores tend to be light and vibrant. They are recognised for a more relaxing, upmarket shopping experience – as such, they’re not known for having the sharpest prices.
Aside from an aesthetic store presentation, New World carries a superb variety of food, including good quality fresh food such as fruit, vegetables and local meat.
New World has its own loyalty programme called a Clubcard. This card will not only save you money in-store but will also give you 6c per litre off of petrol at Z and Caltex service stations.
Smaller Local Supermarkets | superettes
Though not always as affordable as the main chains already mentioned, smaller supermarkets are a great way to shop local while still saving money when compared to eating out.
With 33 stores in New Zealand, this small supermarket chain is a handy spot to get your essentials.
Fresh Choice is a convenient place to get your fresh produce, meats, essential groceries, and yummy snacks. Larger Fresh Choice stores also have a decent selection of gourmet, vegan and specialized foods.
Sometimes you’ll find Fresh Choice on par with Four Square when it comes to selection, though in some centres, a Fresh Choice supermarket is as big as the big three!
Four Squares in small tourist towns tend to be better stocked than those in rural areas – Akaroa has a great selection of wine!Vicki Steven
Four Square supermarkets are smaller than the other major supermarkets but more extensive than a dairy (a New Zealand convenience store).
You’ll find these stores in smaller towns so they’re a great place to shop in more remote areas.
Shopping at Four Square is a little pricier than in the three larger New Zealand supermarkets and its offerings aren’t as varied. Because of this, they’re not as reliable for people with dietary requirements, but they’re still pretty good.
You’ll still find your shopping essentials at Four Square, plus they’re known for their personal and friendly service.
If possible, we suggest using a local Four Square to top up on essentials, not for your main grocery shopping.
Again, SuperValue is another good place to pickup basics, especially in the smaller towns which don’t have one of the larger superstores.
Expect friendly service and a range of local products at any of SuperValue’s 39 New Zealand stores.
Farro is the priciest grocery store listed in this article, but worth mentioning as their items are known for being consistently high-quality. If you’re a foodie wanting to treat yourself to the best New Zealand produce, this is the place to shop.
Farro also has great organic, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options. So if you’re travelling to New Zealand with allergies or other dietary requirements, it’s worth having on your radar.
With that said, they only have six stores, all of which are in Auckland, so be sure to stock up before exploring other parts of Aotearoa.
Other New Zealand Stores Where You Can Find Groceries
Though the following stores probably won’t fulfil all of your grocery needs, they’re definitely worth being aware of.
A dairy is what we call a convenience store. They’re found all around the country and are generally open during the day (but not at night).
While your local dairy is undoubtedly a great place to pick up some milk, they do, in fact, sell more than just dairy products.
These small corner shops tend to sell a small range of essential groceries, so they’re an excellent place to buy snacks or ‘top up’ your food shopping during the week. Depending on the size and location, the range of products can be hit and miss, but they tend to have local owners and friendly, convenient service.
Did you know? Some dairies and bigger independent food stores now sell a few of their best sellers through Uber Eats.
In 2022, New Zealand’s first Costco opened in Auckland. These membership-based superstores have a minimal warehouse interior and are all about budget shopping, especially for bulk items.
Great for stocking up on goods at discount prices, Costco is a famous American wholesaler. It caused quite a stir when it first opened up in Aotearoa; a few people even camped outside the night before the opening!
Fortunately, things have calmed down now, and Costco is an excellent place to find bargains on everything from groceries and meat to electronics.
Just be aware that Costco mostly sells things in large quantities and sizes, so it isn’t the best option if you want to do a smaller shop – nor will it suit most travellers to the country.
Pro Tip: You need to be a Costco member in order to shop at these stores. If you have a membership card from abroad, you’re able to use it here too.
You can buy a selection of food, drink and household items (like washing powder and dishwashing liquid) at The Warehouse.
Since The Warehouse is a store known for budget-friendly clothing, home accessories, electronics and appliances, it’s an ideal spot to buy a few necessities when you pick up some cereals or road trip treats.
Fruit and Veggie Stores
For local produce, you’ll find independently owned fruit and vegetable stores in most small towns and suburbs. They’re a fantastic place to ‘support local’ while also finding fresh and tasty produce.
Similarly, many towns and cities hold farmer’s markets on Saturdays or Sundays, where you can enjoy a wholesome shopping experience while buying delicious goods.
Most cities will have Asian supermarkets, selling authentic, specialised groceries.
If you prefer to cook Asian food, the ingredients for these cuisines will usually be cheaper and more varied at these stores than at general supermarkets.
If you’re on a road trip, petrol stations are a great place to pick up some snacks and a cold drink before continuing your journey.
Most major gas stations also have coffee counters, bakery stands and hot food kiosks selling pies and sausage rolls. They can be a great lunch stop in the middle of a long driving day.
Food and drinks purchased from a petrol station will generally be more expensive than from a supermarket, so we recommend using them as a backup when you run out.
Pro Tip: Major gas stations, such as BP and Z, also offer vegan ‘sausage’ rolls and pies – we’ve taste-tested them and can confirm that they’re delicious too!
Tips for Shopping at New Zealand supermarkets
Sign Up for Supermarket Loyalty Schemes
Groceries in New Zealand are expensive. Due to our remote location, much of New Zealand’s food is imported, and what we do produce is world-class (and exported, which means we pay top-dollar for the same products here).
If you’re travelling to New Zealand, make sure you budget for the extra food costs.
On that note, petrol (or gas) is also expensive in New Zealand, even compared to the growing gas prices elsewhere.
To save money on both food and gasoline at the same time, get free loyalty cards.
The two main loyalty programmes we recommend signing up for are:
- OneCard (Countdown, BP, G.A.S)
- New World Clubcard (New World, Z, Caltex).
You can get a card in-store for free or download the apps in advance.
Big Supermarkets are the Cheapest
Stock up on food at large supermarkets where food and supplies are cheaper.
Snacks and drinks are much more affordable at supermarkets than at cafes, dairies and bakeries.
So if you’re on a road trip, bulk buy your favourite snacks, fruit, baked treats and drinks, rather than buying them at each small town you pass through.
Purchasing ready-made meals and heat-and-eat options can be a great way to save money over eating in restaurants too.
Shop in Big Cities Rather than Small Towns
Small towns are less likely to have the primary supermarket chains, so it’s harder to find the discounts that only come with big supermarkets.
We recommend purchasing things like salt, pepper, cooking oil, washing powder, tomato sauce and any other supplies you might need from larger supermarkets to save money.
Take Your Own Bags
Plastic bags are no longer supplied in New Zealand stores, so bring reusable bags, such as tote bags.
Alternatively, you can buy affordable reusable bags and paper bags at supermarkets. We encourage you to use these throughout your trip.
Pak’n’Save also supplies cardboard boxes; these can be used instead of bags if you prefer.
Click and Collect
Click and collect is a great way to save time at the supermarket. It’s also a good option for those of us who spend extra money at the supermarket, getting excited by all the treats on display – yes, we’re talking about ourselves!
If you’d like a supermarket worker to pack your order for you, simply hop online and choose the items you’d like to purchase. Then place your order with details of your preferred supermarket location and pickup time.
Many of the above stores offer this service at no additional charge – they just expect you to meet the minimum order value.
How’s that for convenience and value!
Online Grocery Delivery
Online shopping with delivery is a great option if you don’t have access to a car or if you’d rather spend your time doing something fun instead.
Though grocery delivery does come at a cost, it’s often cheaper than the cost of public transport to and from the supermarket.
You can purchase anything using this service, but we recommend you use it to bulk buy your favourite staples (such as pasta and cans) that would be more expensive to buy from your local dairy.
Pro Tip: Grocery delivery is a wonderful service but you’ll need a New Zealand mobile number to place your order. We recommend you make your first order in NZ an in-person one so you can check out all of the amazing foods we have here. Then, once you have a phone number and are settled, you can place an online order to top up.
Be Aware of Opening Hours and Days
As a general rule, supermarkets are open seven days a week.
The only days they are closed are:
- Christmas Day, 25 December
- Good Friday, date changeable – normally in March or April
- Easter Sunday, date changeable – normally in March or April
- ANZAC Day, until 1.00 pm on 25 April.
These closures are not required for small grocery shops (like dairies, superettes or fruit and vegetable stores) or petrol stations.
In large cities, some supermarkets are open 24/7, but most will close at some stage in the evening.
Diaries generally close around when it gets dark at night, while petrol stations are often open 24/7 if you need last-minute supplies.
We suggest you use Google to check specific hours for your local stores.
Know When You Can Purchase Alcohol and Be Prepared with ID
A wide variety of beers, ciders and wines are available for purchase from most New Zealand supermarkets.
The variety of craft beer in the supermarket blew me away on my first trip!Madison Elizabeth, NZTT Member
Be sure to carry identification when shopping for alcohol. Though you only need to be 18 to purchase booze in New Zealand, if you look younger than 25 and you can’t produce ID, you will be denied from making a purchase.
International driver’s licences are not accepted, so we suggest taking your passport with you if you’re travelling to New Zealand from abroad.
What’s more, if one member of your group looks to be under 25, the store can ask for ID from everyone – this is called the ‘party rule‘. If you can’t provide it, your whole group will be barred from purchasing. This doesn’t apply to your children, however.
Though stores may be open for extended hours, the sale of alcohol is restricted to a certain timeframe.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 prevents alcohol from being sold at off-licence stores (like supermarkets and bottle stores) before 7 am or after 11 pm. It allows for these sales to be made every day of the week, however.
Local alcohol policies can further restrict these hours, so depending on the part of the country you’re in, these hours might be slightly reduced. In other parts of the country (Gore, for example), alcohol is not allowed to be sold at supermarkets at all.
For details of specific areas, we suggest using the New World liquor licencing information.
Though New Zealand is a relatively expensive country to travel in, shopping at supermarkets in advance can be a great way to save money and try local flavours.
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