Your Guide to Second-Hand Clothes Shopping in Christchurch

The busy and bright interior of a second hand clothing store.

The neatest second-hand clothing finds in the ‘03.

Words by: Julia Rutherford

Photos by: Nancy Zhou and supplied

In an age where fast fashion and ever-changing trends have dominated the retail clothing industry, second-hand clothes shopping deserves to be celebrated. Not only is it better for the environment and our planet to buy clothes that already exist, but most often, it can be better for our wallets and bank accounts too. Whether you call it op-shopping, thrifting or hunting down the best vintage pieces you can find, the second-hand clothing scene in Christchurch keeps growing and going from strength to strength.

No matter if your shopping style is to comb the aisles of a large warehouse-style store or to browse through a more curated collection to find a hidden gem, there are treasure troves aplenty around Ōtautahi to get your shopping fix.   

Recycle Boutique

Fashion key icon.

248 High Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Recycle Boutique was at the forefront of making second-hand clothing shopping cool and desirable back when they opened their first store in Auckland in 2005. Since then, they have expanded throughout the country, and their store on Christchurch’s High Street is one of the best second-hand retail experiences in the garden city. From the street, you might easily think that inside is home to a high-end label, and while you will find designer threads in store, they are at a fraction of their cost regular retail and are preloved. The high ceilings and luxe lighting add to the elevated presentation, along with helpful staff to guide you to the purchase you’re after. So if you haven’t been to Recycle Boutique yet… what are you waiting for?

Toff’s $2 Recycled Clothing Warehouse

1026 Ferry Road, Woolston, Christchurch

If you ask anyone who grew up in the 03 what their memory of second-hand clothing shopping in Christchurch is, chances are that Toff’s will get a mention. Toff’s $2 Recycled Clothing Warehouse is a bit of an institution in the city, and for good reason, there are some absolute finds here to be found… you just have to be willing to put in the time. Given that warehouse is in the name, this tells you that it’s a pretty sizeable location, with racks and racks of treasures to hunt through, but you just never know what you might find, and doesn’t that make it all the more rewarding! So make a date with a like-minded group of friends, head to Toff’s and set aside a good few hours. Treat yourself to coffee after, you’ll deserve it.

Nifty

Stay and explore key icon. Fashion key icon. Markets key icon.

306 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

One of the most aesthetically pleasing storefronts you will find anywhere in the city belongs to Nifty. A pale pink pop of colour greets you down the industrial end of Cashel Street, and walking inside, you will be instantly wowed by the thoughtful layout of this second-hand clothing haven. Beginning life as a seasonal market, Nifty has grown into a permanent space, and owner Rosie loves connecting her customers with pieces she knows will be well-loved in their wardrobes for years to come. With different zones in the store, it's easy to navigate, and there’s always a killer denim section with preloved and vintage finds to be had. Even if you leave without a new (old) purchase, the experience of browsing in Nifty will leave your day feeling brighter, and you never know what you might find next time.

London Street Vintage

31 London Street, Lyttelton

If you are looking for unique, individual pieces, whether this be clothing, ceramics, food or any other item, then the harbourside village of Lyttelton is the place to head to. Known for their independently-owned stores with passionate proprietors, a morning or afternoon spent browsing the main street is well worth your time. And during this browse, you will come across London Street Vintage hidden down a stairwell off London Street, so keep your eyes peeled for the signage. There’s definitely a cool, underground vibe going on in this second-hand clothing store, where you might even be lucky to find some vintage records for sale in and amongst the apparel.

A close of brightly coloured clothes on a rack.

Booteek

266 Saint Asaph Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Calling The Boxed Quarter home and sharing a space with the bright and colourful Flowers by Jasmine, Booteek is not messing around when it comes to supplying some of the coolest and most stylish second-hand finds in the city centre. With most items in store under $50 and owner Joshua ready and willing to help you hunt out your next vintage treasure, it’s an A+ experience shopping at Booteek. It also happens to be a visual delight in store, so on the rare occasion you don’t find something, it’s still a treat for your soul.

Paper Bag Princess

255 Saint Asaph Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

Paper Bag Princess is a familiar name on the second-hand clothing shopping circuit, with stores dotted around the country, and they are also known for their support of and work with charities throughout New Zealand. Their Christchurch city centre store is full of branded 70s, 80s and 90s fashion, and Paper Bag Princess has an emphasis on being an affordable place to shop vintage and second-hand. Once you have had a look and hopefully purchased some new to you threads, pop next door to Bohemian Bakery, where some of the best pastries in the city will be fresh out of the oven.

Looking into a window of a clothing store surrounded by bright green vines.

To Be Continued Preloved

48a Bryndwr Road, Fendalton, Christchurch & 1027 Ferry Road, Ferrymead, Christchurch

Opened by owner Amanda with the goal of being a hidden gem of a store, To Be Continued Preloved certainly does hold a number of treasures in both their Fendalton and Ferrymead stores. With over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry, Amanda decided to change gears and embrace the world of preloved and second-hand shopping. The items in the store are often sold on consignment, so if you think you have a special piece you would like someone to give a new home to, it’s worth taking it to Amanda and her team.

Photo by: Supplied

Thrive Op Shop Sydenham

63 Buchan Street, Sydenham, Christchurch

Thrive Op Shop Sydenham is one of many op shops around Christchurch that is run by the City Mission. These op shops are a social enterprise where all the stock in stores is donated. They are operated by volunteers, and the proceeds go to helping those the Mission know are most in need. The Sydenham location on Buchan Street is a great spot to find vintage clothing, shoes and accessories. If you want to extend your second-hand shopping perimeters beyond clothing, they often have a great selection of books, linen and other items that might look good in your home.

Curb

118 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch

In and amongst the hustle and bustle of inner city Cashel Street, there’s a shopfront that independent skateboard company Curb calls home. Established in 2013, Curb has a loyal following, and their skate and streetwear prove to be popular season after season. They also have a pretty sweet collection of vintage clothing in store, from tees to sweatshirts to hats. So if there’s a particular vintage piece you’re after with a heavy skate/streetwear vibe, it’s 100% worth checking out Curb.

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Bonobo Café

Birds-eye view of four dishes on a pink table at Bonobo, Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Cafes key icon.

Bonobo: a benevolent primate, a trip-hop artist and more recently a plant-based cuisine destination in the seaside suburb of Sumner.

Tūranga

Harry Potter stairs at Turanga.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Stay and explore key icon. Services key icon.

It’s not often that grand designs are plucked from the mind’s eye and brought to life. At Tūranga they are, every day.

Miss Peppercorn

Three different cocktails on a black table with straws.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Restaurants key icon.

Miss Peppercorn is a modern eatery, celebrating the fragrant and mouth-numbing flavours of the owner's hometown in the Chinese province of Sichuan.

Tomi Japanese Restaurant

Looking over the counter into the kitchen where the chef is.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Restaurants key icon.

Serving authentic Japanese cuisine, Tomi is most famous for their sashimi sourced from the local fish market.