Extra eye protection is good news, because ultra-violet radiation levels in New Zealand can be very high. UV over 10 is considered “extreme”, and summer UV levels in this country often hover around 12. They’re even higher at high altitudes such as in the Southern Alps. 

We’ve found sunglasses companies in Aotearoa that deliver both style and smart tech to protect your eyes. Many also offer eco-friendly options, or let you add prescription lenses to their frames. So now you can look cool and still see where you’re going.

Here are the must-see sunglasses companies in New Zealand for a stylish summer.

Isle of Eden Eddie sunglasses.


Isle of Eden
Auckland’s Isle of Eden aims to create high-quality eyewear that makes you look good and also feel good about the planet. To reduce their environmental footprint, the frames are made of bio-acetate or recycled acetate. As well, a percentage of every sale price is donated to groups doing beach clean-ups. To reduce waste, the frames are designed to last, with reinforced temples, rubber-coated screws and polarised lenses. There’s also a repair service, and a 30% discount if you trade in your old sunnies for a new pair, which cost $189. Most Isle of Eden frames can be fitted with prescription lenses. 


Duskies Isabella frames.


Here’s eco eyewear handmade in Hawke’s Bay from sustainable wood. Which means the wood comes from forests managed in compliance with Forest Stewardship Council guidelines. Lenses are scratch-resistant and polarised, hinges are quality German engineering, and you can choose plain sunglasses or prescription lenses. Duskies’ website also offers a fine selection of woven fedora or Panama-style hats for $79 and $179, so you can top off your look. Sunglasses start from $129, up to $189 and optical frames are $249, before prescription lenses are fitted.

Good Gryf Chully Bun sunglasses in black and crystal.


Good Gryf
The Good Gryf range is designed by a Kiwi optometrist who says he’s “sick of average”. The emphasis is on style, fit, engineering, and an element of quirk. Which translates to designs with “Kiwi As” names such as Chully Bun, Hot Chups and Bloody Nora. The names may be a hoot, but the eyewear still delivers serious eye protection against UV, UVA and that weird blue light from computer screens. Plus, the frames can all be fitted with prescription lenses. Prices for sunglasses average around $300, plus prescription lens fees on top.

Age Eyewear Homage in black pearl marble.


Age Eyewear
Auckland’s Age Eyewear has only just launched, but it’s already turning heads with molto elegante vintage designs. You can imagine rockstars like Lenny Kravitz wearing these shades, or maybe the safari-suit-wearing TV presenter Alan Whicker of 1970s travel show Whicker’s World. Every piece is designed the old-school way with pen and paper, and handmade with high-quality Italian acetate, to make some seriously stylish face furniture. Prices for sunglasses hover between $200 and $300.

Vilo Canyon sunglasses.


Vilo Eyewear
She’s a nurse, he’s a helicopter pilot. After travelling the world for work, Francesca and Josh Peacey came home to Whangārei and founded Vilo Eyewear. Their frames are made from eco-friendly waste-wood scraps laminated together, so they’re sleeker and lighter to wear than other wood frames. The wooden case is also recycled, and can be engraved with your name or message. Even the high-clarity polarised UV400 lenses are eco-friendly: they’re made from plant cellulose, using new technology. And if you donate your old (usable) sunglasses, they’re shipped to developing countries and distributed free to help prevent cataracts caused by UV damage. Bamboo sunglasses start from $79 and laminate wood sunglasses from $129 (engraving and prescription lenses cost extra). Vilo donates 10% of its profits to A21, a non-profit organisation dedicated to eliminating slavery and human trafficking. 

Wild Kiwi Bamboo round wired sunglasses.


Wild Kiwi
Based in Tauranga, Wild Kiwi designs several ranges of wood and bamboo sunglasses, including some with koru ferns lasered on the arms or temples. Lenses are UV400 and can be polarised or category 3, to cut glare. When it comes to fostering social harmony, Wild Kiwi makes a point of paying staff above the usual wage, plus it sponsors the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust, which returns wild kiwi to forests. The company also makes travel gear and camping equipment, to make summer shopping easier. The only downside is that the sunglasses can’t be fitted with prescription lenses. Wood sunglasses are $34.95. Delivery within New Zealand is free on orders over $49.95.

Moana Road Bottle Openers.


Moana Road 
Moana Road from Wellington has a cheerful Kiwiana “bach by the beach” retro vibe, but it knows when to step it up with design innovations. Feast your eyes on the Bottle Openers – sunglasses made of titanium that include an integrated bottle opener. They’re Kiwi ingenuity that’s both laidback and near genius. And at $54.99, you won’t feel gutted if you accidentally drop your specs over the side of the boat on the way to the barbecue.

Karen Walker Northern Lights Crazy Tort sunglasses.


Karen Walker 
Karen Walker’s premium bio-acetate designs are worn by every in-the-know celebrity from Gigi Hadid to Beyonce. This eco-friendly form of biodegradable plastic comes from wood pulp, which is made from trees grown and harvested according to Forest Stewardship Council guidelines. In fact, 68% of the raw materials in the latest designs (like the Double Trouble Crazy Tort sunglasses) come from natural and renewable sources. They’re $345. Some designs can also be fitted with prescription lenses, like the Northern Lights Crazy Tort design, $359.

Yu Mei's sunglasses case.


Yu Mei
Wellington’s Yu Mei wins you summer style points with their sleek sunglasses case. Handmade in Timaru from New Zealand deer skin, with a custom brass hinge mechanism, it’s strong enough to protect your shades but folds flat to save space in your bag, unlike those annoying hard-shell cases. Choose from black, stucco white or coconut-shell brown. $196. Tip: You can buy one here with Air New Zealand Airpoints, if you need to use ’em or ’lose em.