Today in History: 7th June 1976, McDonald’s Arrives in New Zealand

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On the 7th June 1976, the iconic golden arches appeared for the first time in New Zealand at Cobham Court, Porirua with over a hundred eager customers were queuing outside when the doors opened at 10 a.m.

At the time of the opening Big Macs were priced at 75 cents (equivalent to $6.40 in 2020), cheeseburgers 40 cents and hamburgers 30 cents.

Twenty years later the American fast-food giant opened its 100th outlet in the country.

The opening of the franchise didn’t come without it’s challenges as a licensing system restricted the importing of products that could be made in New Zealand.

The McDonald’s kitchen was supposed to be sent back to the USA once local companies were able to reproduce it. The resulting trade negotiations were a windfall for the New Zealand Dairy Board (the predecessor of Fonterra), which was able to offload some of its cheese surplus in exchange for more imported kitchens for McDonald’s.

New Zealand’s second McDonald’s restaurant opened in Queen St in Auckland in July 1977. The first drive-throughs opened the following year, in New Lynn and Lower Hutt.