8 great fascinating bookshops

Independent bookstores are making a comeback. Wendy Montrose finds some that are well worth a visit.


Minerva won the title of Best Bookstore in Metro Magazine’s Best of Wellington 2021

1 Minerva. 237 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and handcrafts, Minerva won the title of ‘Best Bookstore’ in Metro Magazine’s Best of Wellington 2021. A haven for textile lovers since 2008, the shop offers the widest selection of boutique textile and lifestyle magazines and specialty textile books in the country as well as hand-dyed threads, felts, stitching kits and handcrafted gifts. Former librarian Anne Scott and her friendly staff can help you choose from a curated selection of modern fiction and non-fiction as well as a growing number of children’s picture books, stunning calendars, jigsaw puzzles and an unsurpassed range of beautiful cards sourced from small publishers and creatives around the world. Minerva is open seven days until 4pm.


Mrs Blackwell’s Village Bookshop was once Greytown Library

2 Mrs Blackwell’s Village Bookshop. 93 Main Streeet, Greytown, Wairarapa

Appropriately, the building housing Mrs Blackwell’s Village Bookshop was once the Greytown Library. You’ll find so much more than ‘a carefully curated selection of books’ inside though. There is also fine stationery, specially designed reading journals, tote bags to carry your books, jars full of pencils, exclusive vintage jigsaw puzzles and Tea Total teas. There’s something unique and tempting on every shelf, not to mention the delicious Bookies (freshly baked cookies) on the counter beside the gleaming antique cash register. A little wood burner keeps the shop so cosy and warm on cold days, you might never want to leave. Millie Blackwell created Mrs Blackwell’s Village Bookshop in Greytown in 2020, ‘an independent bookshop for inquisitive minds and romantic souls.’ Open seven days.


Smith’s Bookshop has been a Christchurch institution since 1894

3 Smith’s Bookshop. Tannery Emporium, 3 Garlands Road, Christchurch

Established in 1894 by AD Smith, Smith’s Bookshop is a Christchurch institution. A piece of Manchester Street history, after the 2011 earthquake the shop relocated to the Tannery Emporium. Here you’ll find new books, second-hand books, ephemera, magazines, and art supplies. Smith’s specialise in rare and out-of-print books and NZ titles and is home to Cadsonbury Publications, a press that specialises in publishing out-of-print NZ history books. Current owners Alan Direen and Tony Murdoch take pride in helping source hard-to-find titles and describe Smith’s Bookshop as ‘a haven for book lovers.’ Open seven days from 10am-5pm.

Power To The People


Wardini’s Bookshop has plenty going on as well as books

4 Wardini Books. 16 Te Mata Road, Havelock North & 44 Hastings Street, Napier

Run by Louise and husband, Gareth Ward, aka The Great Wardini, Wardini Books is an independent bookshop with a touch of magic. There are books of course, a fantastic selection of titles, but that’s not all. Wardinis hosts book clubs and holds regular author events and book launches. There’s always something going on, which is not surprising really. Gareth is an award-winning author, a children’s entertainer, magician and hypnotist. Brace yourself before you enter. You never know what you’re in for. Both shops are open seven days; their Facebook page will keep you up to date with anything new and exciting.


Petronellas Gallery and Bookstore is easy to find in Tekapo’s main street

5 Petronella’s Gallery & Bookstore. 8 Rapuwai Lane, SH8 Lake Tekapo

In 2018, Wilma van den Bosch realised a dream when she opened Petronella’s Gallery and Bookstore. A cultural hub and book lovers paradise, it’s easy to find in Tekapo’s main street. Wilma landed in New Zealand from the Netherlands with a Master’s degree in Dutch literature and years of experience as a bookseller. You can be sure she always has an eclectic range of new literature, non-fiction and special interest books sharing the shelves with boutique stationery, gifts and works by local artists. It’s ‘a match made in heaven brought down to delight locals and travellers alike’. Petronella’s is open 10am to 5pm every day except Tuesday.

Two Wee Bookshops are now three

6. Two Wee Bookshops. 1 Home Street, Manapouri

Ruth Shaw is a woman with a past and a passion for books. Author of the bestselling autobiography, The Bookseller At The End Of The World, she opened her first wee bookshop in 2016 and stocked it with over 1,000 second hand books. Three years later she opened number two, a smaller shop just for children, with added soft toys they can take home for the night. The Snug came next, an old converted linen closet filled with books men might like. She added maps and built a seat for them to relax and read on while they waited. What started as a hobby has become a lifestyle. Ruth loves chatting to the people who come to her shops although she still refuses to sell a book to someone she thinks won’t appreciate it. Usually open every day except Monday from Labour Day to Easter, Ruth will sit outside when it’s busy to make room for book lovers. Ring the bell if she isn’t there.

Freedom Calling
It’s easy to lose yourself for a day in Browsers

7. Browsers Bookshop. 298 Victoria Street, Riverbank Lane, Hamilton

Rachel Pope had a dream: to own and run a second hand bookshop. Since 1996, that dream has been a reality. Nostalgic, lovely, warm and full of memories, it’s easy to lose yourself for a day in Browsers. The shop moved across the road to the current site six years ago; it now shares Riverbank Lane with other retail outlets, a café and a restaurant. Open seven days and until 9.30pm five nights a week, Browsers sells (and buys) a range of quality books, from literature and philosophy to NZ books, art, children’s titles and much more. Kids, both big and small, love the secret door and Rachel says her most useful marketing tool is the 7.5 metre high bookcase. If she ‘had a penny for every time someone asked for the book on the top shelf…’

Xanadu may be the country’s biggest second hand bookshop

8 Xanadu Book Exchange. 2C Ashley Place, Papamoa Beach

Tucked away in an industrial area at Papamoa Beach is a treasure trove, a ‘stately pleasure-dome’ and what may be the country’s biggest second hand book shop. Briar Simons opened Xanadu in 2014 and now fills three shops. The first is chock full of records, CDs, DVDs, jigsaw puzzles and games. A few steps away is the book shop with narrow aisles and shelves overflowing with biographies, travel books, fiction, children’s books… you name it, Xanadu has it. First timers get a tour and it pays to have your wish list with you. Otherwise, you won’t know where to look first. 8,000 books come in every month and Briar remembers every one she unpacks. The third shop, across the alley from the books, is full of unique gifts and collectables. Xanadu is open every day except Monday.


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