Early Sex Shops in New Zealand
Following a few legal wrangles, the Adult store or Sex Shop, as most New Zealanders like to refer to them, came into being in the 1970s. The resulting end to our moral society, forecast by some ultra-conservatives, never came to pass and sex shops sprung up on the high streets and back streets of NZ. From Whangarei down to Invercargill, the public had access to adult material and sex toys in bricks and mortar sex shops in New Zealand for the first time.
Prior to this, mail order was the only way to get hold of adult literature and vibrators. However, the customer was often ‘ripped off’ by unscrupulous fly-by-night companies who often delivered shoddy rubbish products at high prices, or simply cashed the cheques and postal orders without delivering a thing. After all, they were fairly confident that disgruntled customers wouldn’t want to talk to their local police or bank manager about the experience. They were right.
Opening a Sex Shop
The public mistrust of the sex shop industry, due to the mail order scams, took a while to shift. The new retail stores opening up were viewed with suspicion, but the majority of the owners of these pioneering stores were new to the game and keen to make an honest dollar.
Auckland was predictably the first New Zealand conurbation to develop an area with a proliferation of sex shops. Karangahape Road was host to over a dozen adult stores at its peak, in addition to other related businesses from the sex industry. Peep shows, strip clubs and massage parlours all made K Road their home.
K Road actively welcomed the new influx of sex related business. That may seem unlikely, but since its heyday in the 1890s, the once popular shopping street had been in terminal decline. A lack of visitors and general neglect led to many derelict buildings which created a sad ghostly part of town. The sex stores were delighted with the cheap rent and lack of local resistance. They flourished.
Adult shop Expansion
By the 1980s, there were well over one hundred adult retail locations in New Zealand. These stores made most of their income from pornography. Adult magazines were big sellers and the new-fangled VHS porn tapes were very popular. Although, due to their very high price, most stores rented them out for the evening. as opposed to selling the videos.
Viewing booths and preview rooms were often available in back rooms of Kiwi sex shops throughout the 80s and 90s, however they are mainly a memory now, due to the introduction of the internet and the porn it delivers for free. Most sites are now purely retail outlets, however some city centre venues in Auckland and Wellington offer sex-on-site back rooms.
These are usually video rooms or cruise lounges, catering to the gay community or working girls and their clients. For an entrance fee of around $15, patrons can watch the films or take advantage of the beds, slings, glory holes, dark rooms and other equipment. Most visitors arrive alone and hope to meet a playmate.
Sex Toys Evolve
As porn sales inevitably declined, adult retailers shifted their focus to selling more toys. The quality of these adult toys has improved massively over the decades. Modern sex shops are full of high quality toys from around the world. Massive investment in technology and materials meant that sex toys are no longer noisy, unreliable and badly made. Things had moved on.
The biggest player in the NZ retail industry over the last 20 years has been Peaches and Cream. They built a chain of stores across New Zealand and are probably the only brand to enter the Kiwi psyche as a household name. Covering Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Dunedin and Christchurch, they owned and operated over 15 shops at their peak. Whilst they were always expensive, they do offer a wide range of products.
Apart from the chain sex shops, there are independent adult stores serving communities all over New Zealand. Palmerston North, Levin, New Plymouth and even Eketahuna boast independently owned and operated sex shops. In fact, it is working for Tabu Adult Boutique in Eketahuna that has ignited my fascination with the industry.
Modern Sex Shops in New Zealand
Although Tabu is situated in the countryside, on the border of Manawatu and Wairarapa it has a modern boutique atmosphere. Located on State Highway 2, Tabu maintains a customer base from as far afield as Carterton, Masterton, Palmerston North, Napier and the wider Hawke’s Bay region.
I love the attention to detail at Tabu and its modern feel. There are no magazines or DVDs, and products are well displayed. The owners have tried to make Tabu a regular beautiful store. It just so happens to sell adult toys!
So, whether it’s an edge of town megastore or a little boutique in small town Wairarapa, what can customers expect to find? What products are available? Well, I will break down the most popular items into categories.
Gone are the days when sexy lingerie just meant uncomfortable and crotchless. Many beautiful pieces of underwear can be found in adult stores. Camisoles, babydolls, bustiers and teddy styles to rival major lingerie retailers, along with bodystockings, hosiery and bra and panty sets.
There is a bewildering array of sexual lubricants available these days. Whichever one you end up choosing, it will be so much better than the infamous KY Jelly! Water based lubricants are a good universal lube, coming in plain, flavoured and even warming and cooling varieties.
Toys for Her
Rabbits were the big selling toy of the 2000s. A stick toy, often with rotating beads which had a vibrating bunny head sticking out to tease the clitoris when the toy was inserted. These toys are still popular, but consumers love to keep up with the latest technologies, and sex toy customers are no different.
Remote control is the buzz word in toys, with vibrating bullets, eggs and even vibrating panties fulfilling playful desires. Dongs, which are a more realistic phallic toy, are popular amongst women who like to enjoy some fun in the shower. Dongs usually have a suction cup at the base so they can be secured to walls, floors, doors…
Toys for Him
Blow-up dolls are the stuff of sex shop legend, but they were never much better than a flesh coloured balloon. The male toy market is now packed with amazingly realistic masturbation sleeves. Fleshlight are recognised as the industry leader. They mould their sleeves from the vagina or anus of real porn stars for an authentic experience.
Other brands are available too, such as Pipedream and Calexotics who supply high quality moulded pussies and cheap disposable masturbator cups to suit any occasion. Cock rings are an important part of a man’s bedroom kit-bag. They are stretchy rings which are worn at the base of the penis to maintain firmness and increase sensation.
Toys for Couples
We-vibe used to be the go-to toy in this area of the market for more than 10 years. Their range of vibrating toys are shaped like a ‘U’. With a vibrating motor in each prong, it excites the clitoris and G-spot simultaneously, whilst leaving room for penetrative sex at the same time. The We-Vibes are still a good toy. However, Satisfyer now make a very similar rechargeable and remote control toy for less than half the price. It is controlled via an app, and will even vibrate to your favourite song.
Vibrating Cock Rings are a simpler idea. Worn by the man at the base of his penis, the miniature bullet on the top of the ring vibrates against his partner’s clitoris. Both the We-Vibe and the cockring toys give an extra dimension to the sexual experience.
Along with the more mainstream toys, adult stores in New Zealand supply all manor of lotions and potions. Erection pills such as Bona, supplements, and delay sprays for men. Clit gels and female arousal creams for women.
Kegel balls are a much desired item by women. They are not strictly speaking a toy though. They are a pair of connected weighty balls, to be held inside the vagina. The vagina grips onto them to stop the balls falling out, and in doing so, strengthens the pelvic and vaginal muscles. This makes any woman feel tighter, and are especially useful after childbirth.
Penis Pumps are the best a man can get for instantly improving his size. A vacuum cylinder slips over his erect penis and when he squeezes the trigger, the air is sucked out of the cylinder, making him longer and wider. The results are sadly not permanent, but he can remain larger than usual for the evening by wearing a tight cock ring.
Bondage for All
Most adult stores carry a range of bondage gear in their BDSM section. Items such as paddles, crops and cuffs made by brands such as Rated R, are aimed at the newbie. These kinds of kinky toy can be can be introduced to a healthy sexual relationship in a fun way. If both parties enjoy the experience then there are plenty of options to explore.
Harnesses, collars, bondage tape, rope and under bed restraints all make good sex great for the open-minded couple. Fantasy role play can stem from light bondage too, with cosplay, uniforms, submission/domination and pain/pleasure play being enjoyed by thousands of suburban couples.
If you are keen to visit an adult store, don’t be shy! There is no taboo anymore. You will find a modern shopping experience, and friendly staff who will give you as much or as little assistance as you want. At least, you will if you come to see me at Tabu!
Written by Gia Joy. All views are that of the author. If you wish to read more of Gia’s work, check out her blog.