On 8 December 1932, journalists Otto Williams and Audrey Argall launched the magazine, with 7,000 copies on newsprint. Williams took the role of managing director, and Argall was the first editor. Due to financial difficulties they were forced to sell the magazine after three months. Ellen Melville ran the magazine for a few weeks, before the magazine's printer, F. S. Proctor, and his wife, took over. Early in 1933, solicitor Vernon Dyson bought it, and his wife Hedda became the second editor. At the end of the year it was sold again to Brett Print and Publishing Co., later New Zealand Newspapers, which also published the Auckland Star. Hedda Dyson was retained as editor.
In the early 1980s, New Zealand Woman's Weekly's circulation peaked at around 250,000, before the Australian magazines Woman's Day and New Idea entered the New Zealand market.
In 2007, the magazine celebrated its 75th anniversary with guest Prime Minister Helen Clark.