The best New Zealand supermarket is usually the most convenient one.
New Zealand supermarkets are comprised of three main chains, Countdown(~150 stores), New World Market (~140 stores), and Pak’nSave (~60 stores), along with several small chains. The five largest supermarkets in New Zealand are run by two companies, Foodstuffs, and Woolworths NZ. There is a price difference among the different chains with New World Market and Countdown being the most expensive and Pak’nSave and Supervalue being the least costly.
Countdown supermarkets are owned and operated by Woolworths NZ (no relation to the US Woolworths). They are the largest grocery chain in the country, but there tends to a lot of variety of products carried at each store. Their prices tend to be more than Pak’nsave and around the same or slightly less than New World. There tends to be a higher density of Countdowns on the North Island compared to the South Island. You cannot earn FlyBuys or Airpoints, but you can earn Onecard rewards vouchers or AA Smartfuel discounts.
New World Market
New World Markets are a premium franchised supermarket chain. There is a significant difference in the size of stores and the selection that they carry depending on the location. New World Markets tend to have a more extensive international selection than Countdowns. New World is typically the same price or slightly more expensive than Countdown. You need a New World card to get sale prices and can scan either your Airpoints or Flybys card, in addition to your New World card. I find the shopping experience at Countdown and New World to be interchangeable.
FreshChoice is a smaller chain supermarket with about 60 franchised stores that are locally owned and operated which operate under a franchise agreement with Woolworths NZ.
Supervalue supermarkets are a chain with about 40 locations which operate as franchises under Woolworths NZ. They are more budget oriented stores with prices closer to Pak’nSave than New World Markets.
Discount/Warehouse Grocery Stores
Pak’nSaves are franchised stores run by the same parent company as New World. They are large warehouse-style grocery stores with large meat and vegetable selection. They tend to have a small selection of specialty products compared to New World and Countdown. Their prices, in general, are less than New World and Countdown. They do not mark most of their sales as a sale, but instead list “lower price” and choose not to list the original price. Their wine selection tends to be smaller than New World and Countdown, with fewer expensive wines, but their base prices tend to be cheaper.
Small Grocery Stores
There are about 280 Four Square supermarkets in New Zealand. Four Square markets are tiny grocery stores and are mainly located in small towns. They carry a small selection of meats and fresh produce along with dry goods. The prices tend to be more expensive than Countdown and New World, but less expensive than convenience stores.
Specialty Grocery Stores
Like the name implies Bin Inns are grocery stores that have the majority of their products in self serve bulk bins, ranging from laundry soap to lentils. They tend to be pretty small stores that have good prices on bulk products and a wide range of natural and gluten-free products. They are not a full-service grocery store and tend to have a minimal meat and vegetable selection
Don’t forget your reusable bag when you go to the supermarket since New Zealand supermarkets do not provide single-use bags. If you do not bring your own bags you will need to purchase a reusable bag. What is your favorite New Zealand supermarket?