Walking Through Auckland’s Karangahape Road

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AUCKLAND | Karangahape Road, or K Road as the locals call it, is one of Auckland’s most famous/infamous streets. Located just around the corner from Ponsonby and only a short walk from the bottom end of Queen street in the centre of town, K Road has been many things over the years. Up until the 1960s it was one Auckland’s main shopping districts, but motorway construction changed the character of the area in a big way. Huge parts of the neighborhood were demolished, residents left, rents and building upkeep plummeted, and the area transformed into a magnet for prostitution, illegal gambling and drugs.

Nobody is quite sure where the name Karangahape originated. It’s a Maori word interpreted as either “winding ridge of human activity” to “calling on Hape (a Maori chief who lived in a place called Karangahape, this road being one of the ways to visit him)”.

While the area has gentrified in recent years, the K Road still has seedy underbelly, but it’s all part and parcel of what makes the area what it is. K Road is one of Auckland’s most culturally diverse areas, and hosts fantastic live music and art events throughout the year. It’s a place where those ‘left behind’ have thrived for decades – New Zealand’s first gay and transgender Pacifica and pakeha community formed here. It all adds up for an area that’s vibrant, open and exciting.

There plenty of great places to eat on K Road, along with an abundance of art galleries, quirky and independent boutiques, op shops, book stores, excellent bars, and night spots where people from all walks of life can feel welcome.

K Road is worth visiting any time of the year, and there truly is something for everyone in the area, but it really comes alive during the Auckland Fringe Festival, which is completely free and boasts street performances every half hour. Many of the venues in the area get involved and it’s a real hive of activity and creativity.

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