It’s time for the first record stores of the world trip for 2019 and it takes me for a quick trip across the Tasman to visit the record stores of New Zealand’s North Island. After landing late at night, I grab my hire car first thing in the morning and set off from Auckland to the first stop in Hamilton.
Tron Music, Hamilton
Tron Music is the destination and stocked within it are plenty of fairly standard classics, pricing is pretty high, but the owner quickly tells me listed prices are negotiable. He also happens to be super helpful in advising me on other record stores in New Zealand that are worth a visit. I leave this shop empty handed but armed with plenty of extra info to discover plenty more shops across the North Island.
Back into the car and I drive a few hours out to the coastal city of New Plymouth. The local record shop there is the fantastically named Vinyl Countdown. With a solid selection of new and pre-loved vinyl, it is well worth the trip to have a dig here if you’re in this part of New Zealand. The second-hand section reveals a copy of the fairly recently released “Heed The Call“ compilation, I’m not sure why it’s in the second hand racks as it is such a fantastic release that compiles Aotearoa funk and soul from the seventies and eighties, give this release a listen of you come across it.
Vinyl Countdown, New Plymoth
The first two stops are at small cities and therefore are just home to one record store but I’m back in the car and winding through the very picturesque roads on the way to the New Zealand capital of Wellington where there are a bunch of record stores to discover. I make it to Wellington late in the evening and get prepared to hit the streets the following day.
Slow Boat Records, Wellington
First up is Slow Boat Records, said to be New Zealand’s longest running music store you can find most of what you’d need here across second hand and new, with pricing pretty standard. Just a few doors up is Rough Peel Music, again it is a solid mix of new and second-hand releases, personally I prefer the feel and curation of this store a little more than its neighbour. I also manage to find a Guided by Voices record I’d been after for some time.
Rough Peel Records, Wellington
Into the car and I journey out to the Hutt Valley, which involves a drive along the nice but windy Wellington waterfront. Lo Cost Records has a very traditional second-hand record shop feel to it, lots of stock that has built up over some time, you trip over boxes of records to get to other boxes and they are vaguely in some sort of order, definitely worth the 15-20 drive out of downtown. A little further up the Hutt Valley is Mint Music, a small record shop that shares its space with a gift shop kind of place. If you’re in the area drop by but the range is pretty small.
Lo Cost Records, Hutt Valley
Wellington is done so it is time to head back north as I make my way back to Auckland. The first stop is Taupo, a beautiful part of the world set on a lake that is home to My Music, another shop that claims to be the oldest in New Zealand, but it feels more like a typical strip store with mainly new music (a decent supply of it) and a very limited second-hand section. On the road again and this time to the surf town of Raglan, not to check out record stores but this time to do the first little bit of press for this web site as I drop by Raglan Radio to do an interview about the record stores of New Zealand.
The final day in New Zealand and I’m in the biggest city, Auckland. First stop is the famous Real Groovy and it is kind of a two for one deal today. They have recently relocated to a new store but still have their old store open as a clearance store. The massive space is loaded with crates of records marked at $3 each or 20 for $20. It is literally a space you could spend days digging in, I picked out a bunch of stuff after a few hours and would estimate I only got through about 10% of what was there. Just up the road is their new store which is home to a huge selection of new releases alongside a lot of second-hand stock as well. Definitely the biggest record store in NZ, I have seen it talked about in some places as the biggest in the southern hemisphere.
Real Groovy Records (Old Shop), Auckland
Flying Out Records is the home base of the legendary Flying Nun label, one of my favourite record labels in the world and naturally it has an impeccably curated range. Marbecks Records is again another mall style record shop in an arcade that just stocks new vinyl but has a solid selection if you’re after latest releases. Due to the fact I spent so much time digging I’ve missed the last couple of shops in the city as they’ve already closed, I do however randomly run into two friends I hadn’t seen for years in the streets of Auckland and find out they are playing a show, so I head along to Ding Dong.
Flying Out, Auckland
The North Island of New Zealand offers a pretty unique selection of record stores and I really love the fact they all place a real importance on music from their how country with every shop having a Aotearoa music section. I recommend grabbing a car and driving across this country as the drives between each city are picturesque and quite traffic wise.