The Queen of Op: Hamilton & Cambridge Edition

A little look into my world of op shopping in New Zealand! 

I get the biggest buzz out of finding homewares and clothing that I love and that might have been loved and enjoyed by someone before me. Lots of the items I find have a history, a story, they might have travelled the world to get to this thrift shop, or have been someones special outfit for a special occasion. In other cases the items I find may be another's surplus, which now gets a new life and can be enjoyed by myself, my family or Luna thrifts followers!

In this blog series, I hope to inspire you with some suggestions of my favourite shops from different regions in NZ, so you can pop in to these amazing shops on your travels or in your home

Pictured - Couch, Pillows & Rugs all from the Op Shop! The Wooden Couch frame was actually found at the tip & then completed with pillows and cushions found at various op shops! 


My first blog is about my favourite shops in Hamilton and Cambridge.

Hamilton is the meca of great op shops & vintage and retro finds - they even have a free printed guide available at selected shops!

Apart from the many Red Cross, Salvation Army, Hospice and St John shops (which are all worth a look and only a google search away wherever you are in NZ), my four of my favourites are:

  • Habitat for Humanity Restore, 28 Bryant Rd, Hamilton. Very cheap clothing.
  • St Aidins church shop, 879 Heaphy Terrace. Lovely staff.
  • Dump shop at EnviroWaste Lincoln Street Transfer Cente, 60 Lincoln St
  • Va Va Voom, a boutique style op shop with lots of vintage, antique and exquisite pieces and high end label clothing, expect to pay a bit more but still a lot less than new retail prices. 

In Cambridge there are 3 main op shops, Hospice, Salvation Army and my favourite, New Lives Animal Rescue Op Shop - These are all worth visiting... just like the quaint Cambridge town itself.

Some handy hints that work for me after years of op shopping!

  • Homewares and decor: try and keep to the colours, style and decor of your home or the room you are decorating.
  • Look for items that you might usually buy at cheaper, massed produced, and often not ethical stores like Kmart or the warehouse, and instead buy them from the the op shop. You will often find a better quality brand, repurposed and recycled items, and best yet - you are helping others.
  • Sometimes a wash or paint can bring an item back to life very quickly!
  • With clothing make sure you try items on as sizing can be different if items have been worn and washed.
  • Buy the colours and designs you usually like to wear, so you will actually wear the items. Look for pieces you are missing in your wardrobe rather than miss matched items (A trap I fall into often). After all shopping sustainably means buy what you need or will get a lot of use out of, even when it comes to op shopping.
  • Dress up or one off party clothes can be enjoyed and then returned to the op shop again, so you don’t need to spend lots for special events and no one will be wearing the same item as you!
  • Give yourself time to have a good look, sometimes spending a bit of time looking can help you spot the best treasures. If you want to find that special piece you will, well it works for me. 

You have to take your time to look, some op shops can feel quite busy but they are full of hidden gems! 


I have managed to fill my car boot with an amazing selection of items that all have a colour and style that look like I have just been shopping at a stylish boutique paying regular retail prices! These have made perfect gifts for my loved ones, and treasures I will be sure to keep forever!

Finally - remember to be kind to the lovely people working in these stores as they are often volunteers, giving up their time to sort and clean donations. More often than not Op Shops are social enterprises and non-for-profit organisations, so supporting them means you are not only getting a bargain yourself, but also contributing to Aotearoa in a positive way!!

Enjoy, you are helping to save our planet and money all at the same time!!

By Elke Key

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