McDonald's New Zealand

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McDonald's New Zealand
Industry Fast food restaurant
Founded 4 November 1975 (incorporation)[1]
7 June 1976 (first restaurant)
Headquarters Greenlane, Auckland, New Zealand
Number of locations
Area served
New Zealand
Products Hamburgers, french fries, Pies, Breakfast and soft drinks
Parent McDonald's Corporation
A McDonald's restaurant inside the Auckland Savings Bank Building

McDonald's Restaurants (New Zealand) Limited[1] is the New Zealand branch of the international fast food restaurant chain McDonald's. McDonald's New Zealand is the country's largest fast food chain with over 160 restaurants operating nationwide,[2] serving an estimated one million people each week.[3]

As with McDonald's locations worldwide, the franchise primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken, french fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes, and desserts. In response to changing consumer tastes, the company has expanded its menu to include salads, fish, wraps, smoothies, and fruit. The company also operates the Georgie Pie and McCafé chains within many of its stores; through the latter McDonald's is the largest coffee shop brand in the country.[4]

McDonald's New Zealand operations are based in Greenlane, Auckland.



The first McDonald's restaurant in New Zealand opened on Cobham Court in central Porirua on Monday 7 June 1976, however it was not officially opened until the following Saturday.

Problems were encountered opening the restaurant due to strict import laws at the time, which limited importing of overseas products that could be produced in New Zealand. The kitchen for the Porirua restaurant was imported on the condition that it was to allow local companies to reproduce it, and it was to be sent back after 12 months. However, the kitchen had been cemented into the floor and removing parts of it while still maintaining the restaurant operation meant it was impossible. The New Zealand affiliate eventually negotiated with the Corporation to import more kitchens in exchange for a large surplus of cheese the New Zealand Dairy Board (now Fonterra) had.[5]

Once the Porirua restaurant was open, there were additional problems with the supply chain, with frequent industrial unrest often shutting down suppliers without warning for weeks on end. An industrial dispute shut down the bun supplier in mid-1976, resulting in McDonald's staff having to drive all over Wellington to find substitute buns, and then cutting the sesame seed buns for the Big Mac using two bandsaws placed side-by-side.[6] Beef patties were initially supplied from the Gear Meat Company in Petone, although supply was haphazard until a purpose-built meat forming machine was acquired in 1977. Like many other companies at the time, Gear Meat was plagued by industrial unrest and closed down without warning in 1982, leaving McDonald's to import beef patties from Australia. The affiliate acquired Gear Meat's patty-forming machine and moved it to Auckland to secure production.[7] By coincidence, part of Gear Meat's former site now contains a McDonald's restaurant.

The second New Zealand restaurant opened in the old Auckland Savings Bank Building on Queen Street, Auckland in July 1977. Restaurants in New Lynn and Lower Hutt opened in 1978, being the first restaurants with drive-throughs. By the end of the decade, restaurants had also opened in Takapuna, Henderson, and Courtenay Place (central Wellington).[8]


Expansion in the first ten years was initially limited to the North Island. The first South Island restaurants opened on 3 November 1987 at Merivale and Linwood in Christchurch. Problems finding franchisees meant the opening of the third restaurant at Riccarton was delayed until later, while the franchisees of the Whangarei restaurant transferred south to the Merivale restaurant on the possibility of a second restaurant in the future. Both restaurants almost broke worldwide opening day records, just losing the title due to a poor exchange rate.[9]


The 50th New Zealand McDonald's restaurant opened in 1991 at Chartwell Square Mall, Hamilton. The 100th restaurant opened five years later at the Auckland University of Technology.

McDonald's purchased the fast-food chain Georgie Pie from Progressive Enterprises in 1996. The Georgie Pie chain closed in 1998, with half of the 32 restaurants converting to McDonald's and the remainder sold off.

From 1997-1999 the company endorsed McDonald's Young Entertainers, a talent show for young New Zealanders.[10]


In May 2013, McDonald's announced it would bring Georgie Pie back on a trial basis, selling a single pie flavour through several McDonald's restaurants in the Upper North Island. Later in October, it announced it would roll out Georgie Pie to all McDonald's restaurants nationwide, excluding those who could not accommodate the necessary equipment.[11]


The McDonald's Kiwiburger
Further information: List of McDonald's products

McDonald's New Zealand sells products consistent with its international markets – including the chain's signature product the Big Mac.

Items unique to the New Zealand menu include:

  • Kiwiburger – A take on the classic New Zealand hamburger: quarter-pound beef patty, egg, lettuce, tomato, beetroot, onion, ketchup and mustard. Introduced in 1991 as a permanent menu item but withdrawn in 2004 due to complications with the egg and beetroot. It has returned as a limited-time item in 2007, 2009 and every from 2011 to 2014.
  • Kiwi Big Breakfast – similar to the international Big Breakfast, containing toasted English muffins, scrambled eggs and hash brown, but with the noticeable difference being link sausages instead of sausage patties.
  • Massive McMuffin – bacon, egg, cheese, two sausage patties and ketchup between two English muffins.

Employment relations[edit]

McDonald's in New Zealand are one of only a few McDonald's affiliates to have union representation.[12][not in citation given] This has led to demands for equal pay with other fast food sector employees, such as those in KFC.[13] There were also protests about favouritism of police officers and the accused harassment of one member staff for being gay.[14] The demand for higher wages ultimately led to a strike which began on the 22 May 2013 in the Bunny St McDonald's in Wellington.[13]

In May 2013, the Fifth National Government reintroduced a youth minimum wage for 16 and 17 year-olds at 80 percent of the adult minimum wage. McDonald's was one of seven major companies employing young people to reject a youth minimum wage and insisting young employees be paid at least the adult minimum wage.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "McDonald's Restaurants (New Zealand) Limited -- Companies Office". Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Big NZ plans for big US burgers". Television New Zealand. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  3. ^ McDonald’s New Zealand
  4. ^ Bruce Horovitz (2003-05-20). "It's Back to Basics for McDonald's". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-04-23. 
  5. ^ Hepözden, p. 65
  6. ^ Hepözden, p. 68
  7. ^ Hepözden, p. 83-4
  8. ^ Hepözden, p. 50
  9. ^ Hepözden, pp. 112–5
  10. ^ 'Big Dane': big heart - and dreams
  11. ^ "McDonald's takes Georgie Pie nationwide". Fairfax New Zealand. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  12. ^ McSpotlight
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ "McDonald's workers protest police discount". Television New Zealand. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Backhouse, Matthew; Shuttleworth, Kate (1 May 2013). "Supermarkets still considering new youth wage". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hepözden, Rosemary (2011). O'Flaherty, Brian, ed. Golden Arches under Southern Skies: Celebrating 35 years of McDonald's in New Zealand. in co-op with McDonald's Restaurants (NZ) Ltd. Auckland: Renaissance Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9864521-1-6. 

External links[edit]