The Best Summer Dresses In NZ To Add To Cart Before The Season Ends

By Alice Rich

Woman in a yellow gingham dress and bucket hat stands in front of a sheet in a field.

After two-ish years of sweatpants (mostly) all day every day, the ‘home couture’ game is strong but sweats and sand don’t mix so we went looking for the best dresses in NZ for saluting the sun this summer. 

From upcycled threads to linen one hundred ways and dresses by contemporary Māori designers, many of these looks are by local labels. Almost all have earth-loving elements, making these threads a better choice than their fast fashion counterparts.  

Here are the best dresses in New Zealand to shop this summer. 

Lucy and Yak Organic Mini Pini Dress

Price: $70

A woman wears pink dungarees over a white striped t-shirt with a pink collar, net socks and white shoes while walking in front of a rundown pink building.

Featuring GOTS-certified organic cotton and a teeny bit of elastane this ash pink Mini Pini Dress was handmade in India by tailors being paid a fair wage. Plus, it's SO cute. 

A woman in a reversible cornflower blue-pink dress walks through a forest carrying a picnic basket.

Binanz Reversible Mini Dress 

Price: $230

Designed and ethically made in Christchurch, this cute reversible mini comes in two colourways—khaki and black, and pink and cornflower—so you can rock it whatever your mood. 

Aere Cross Back Tiered Linen Dress

Price: $136.73

We see the back of a woman’s black dress with balloon sleeves and crossed straps over a back cutout.

For a full-blown summer princess vibe, this Cross Back Tiered Linen dress, in white or black, ticks all the boxes. 

The Keep Fantasy Shin and Me Shirt

Price: $590

Two people wearing large shirts-one yellow, one blue-with balloon sleeves.

There’ll only be one question on your mind when you spy this loose-fitting yarn-dyed silk shirt dress with shell buttons and a cute collar: blue or yellow?

Layplan Studio Nancy Dress

Price: $490

A woman with multicoloured braids, wearing an orange and white flowy dress holds a white parasol in a park.

Made from deadstock polyester, we think this full length, tangerine Nancy dress is super dreamy. 

Kinney Rou Slip Dress

Price: $311.31

A woman standing on a boardwalk wears a gingham dress and white converse while looking out to sea.

Match your picnic rug, jam and napkins with this cute look by Kinney. The Rou Slip dress is made with French linen and features a v neckline that’s mirrored at the back. 

Recycle Boutique Vintage Floral Dress

Price: $65

A woman wears a dark green vintage American dress in a floral print.

Be the indoor-outdoor flow in this American vintage dress studded with flowers. There’s literally one of these so if you like it then you better put it in your trolley, stat. And if you miss out, stay a while and peruse their racks-instore or online-you're sure to find a pre-loved gem.

Paper Bag Princess

Price: $?

A woman sits on a dusky pink armchair wearing a light pink lacy dress as she looks off camera.

Another great second store for scooping up a summer dress in Tāmaki Makaurau is Paper Bag Princess on Karangahape Road. With up to 1,000 pre-loved items arriving every week, there’s a dress (among other things) for every mood.

Afends Billy Hemp Check Maxi Dress

Price: $107

A woman wears a moss-checked maxi dress.
Made with a blend of hemp and Tencel (which is a more eco-friendly alternative to rayon and viscose) this maxi dress in moss check is lightweight and flowy—a perfect pick for summer.

Kinney Bowie Dress

Price: $377.23

A woman wears a large white dress that ties at the middle and has a black swoosh on its lower half.

For summer days with a burst of drama, we love everything about the Bowie dress by Kinney, from the full balloon sleeves and pockets to the fact it’s made with 100% linen. 

Soon Maternity Rubi Linen Feeding Dress

Price: $137

A woman wears a neutral-coloured linen dress that stops at the knee, with sandals.

If you’ve recently made a tiny human—incredible, by the way—you can still look totally chic while breastfeeding in this linen number with ruffle sleeves by Soon Maternity. 

Papa Clothing Bub Dress

Price: $320

A woman wears a dusky pink linen dress with balloon sleeves, and a matching face mask.

By now you've figured out we've got a (major) obsession with linen and that's on account of it being pretty high up on the sustainable fabrics list. In this lovely linen Bub dress in blush by Papa Clothing Pacific Island/Pakeha designer, Keva Rands, you'll be living your floaty fantasy. 

Mitchell Vincent Pou Dress

Price: $190

A snapshot of two women wearing pink/purple dresses in different styles.

This muscle back slip dress was designed to embody the silhouette, and strength, of the Māori pou. It’s made in Kirikiriroa/Hamilton from end-of-line textiles which means it’s great for you and Papātūanuku.

Kinney Clara Reversible Dress

Price: $309

A woman wears a dark brown full length dress with ample sleeves and two ties that create a bow allusion over her bust.

Sometimes you just want to rock your clothing backwards, and the Clara reversible dress totally obliges. Opt for an under-bust cutout and free-flowing panelled skirt, or a simple square neckline that can be cinched, depending on your mood.

La Vida Bowtie Mini Dress

Price: $599

Two women wear storybook-reminiscent dresses and are smiling at the ground.

For a whimsical, Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Mexico vibe, you can’t go wrong with the La Vida Bowtie Mini Dress made with linen. 

Cloth & Co Organic Cotton Boxy T-Dress

Price: $126

A head to toe shot of a woman wearing a burnt orange mid-length t-dress, with sandals.

Organic cotton is free from the harmful chemicals used in inorganic cotton production making it better for you and the environment, and since organic cotton seeds are cheaper than inorganic ones it's better for farmers too. This Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified organic cotton boxy t-dress is perfect for relaxed summer days.  

Bamboo Body Elsie Dress

Price: $115

A pregnant woman wears a dark green bamboo jersey ankle-length dress with a side split.

Bamboo Body is all about stylish comfort and their relaxed t-shirt dress, made with the label’s own stretched bamboo jersey is no exception. 

Princess Highway Cockatoo Shift Dress

Price: $95.71

Two women hold hands wearing matching yellow and blue dresses in a cockatoo print.

If you’re in the mood to don a brightly-coloured number, Princess Highway does a bunch of viscose-linen shift dresses in cheerful prints, as well as a range of pretty sweet playsuits

Seer & Wilde Water Kimono

Price: $249

A woman wearing an orange kimono-style dress over brown high-waisted separates.

Made in Aotearoa from 100% linen, this one size fits all Japanese-inspired water kimono can be dressed up or down—even over swimwear—and the belt doubles as a bandeau or headscarf, depending on what the occasion calls for. 

Hej Hej Heartstrings Dress in Seafoam

PRICE: $280Woman mid-spin in a seafoam linen dress.

This floaty little number by Hej Hej just sets our heart a-flutter. Designed in Aotearoa and produced ethically in China—in linen no less—this Heartstrings Dress in Seafoam is an absolute gift to the wardrobe. 

Cosmic Black Organic Hemp Strappy Babydoll Dress

Price: $59.95

A woman wears a salmon babydoll dress with pockets over a black t-shirt.

Hemp requires very little water to grow making it a solid pick for a more sustainable wardrobe. This sweet babydoll dress—with all-important pockets—is made from a blend of organic hemp and organic GOTS-certified cotton, and is naturally anti-microbial, UV protective, moisture-wicking, insulating and odour resistant. Well, dang. 

ReCreate Checked River Dress

Price: $249.90

Woman in a yellow gingham dress and bucket hat stands in front of a sheet in a field.

Ethically made at Goel Community in Cambodia the ReCreate Checked River dress is made with artisanal handwoven cotton. We also love their Incline dress in olive. 

Pania Tongariro Maxi Dress

Price: $180

We see a woman’s back, she’s holding her hair up and looking to one side while wearing a green linen dress.

Plant lovers will fall in love with this sleeveless Tongariro Maxi by Pania. It’s made in Aotearoa from lightweight linen—so is perfect for summer—and its colour is reminiscent of flax.


Heading to the beach? Pick up some new togs this summer with the coolest swimwear in NZ.

Image credit: ReCreate, Cosmic, Aere, The Keep, Layplan, Kowtow, Kinney, Recycle Boutique, Paper Bag Princess, Afends, Kinney, Soon Maternity, Papa Clothing, Mitchell Vincent, Nichola, Kinney, La Vida, Cloth & Co, Lucy and Yak, Bamboo Body, Princess Highway, Seer & Wilde, Hej Hej, Cosmic, ReCreate, Pania.

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.