Karangahape Road

Coordinates: 36°51′28″S 174°45′35″E / 36.8577935°S 174.7597039°E / -36.8577935; 174.7597039
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Karangahape Road
Karangahape Road from the intersection with Pitt Street.
Length1 km (0.62 mi)
LocationAuckland CBD, Auckland, New Zealand
Coordinates36°51′28″S 174°45′35″E / 36.8577935°S 174.7597039°E / -36.8577935; 174.7597039
West endPonsonby Road, Great North Road, Newton Road
East endSymonds Street, Grafton Bridge

Karangahape Road (commonly known as K' Road) is one of the main streets in the central business district (CBD) of Auckland, New Zealand. The massive expansion of motorways through the nearby inner city area – and subsequent flight of residents and retail into the suburbs from the 1960s onwards – turned it from one of Auckland's premier shopping streets into a marginal area with the reputation of a red light district. Now considered to be one of the cultural centres of Auckland, since the 1980s–1990s it has been undergoing a slow process of gentrification, and is now known for off-beat cafes and boutique shops.

It runs west–east along a ridge at the southern edge of the Auckland CBD, perpendicular to Queen Street, the city's main street. At its intersection with Ponsonby Road in the west, Karangahape Road becomes Great North Road, at its eastern end it connects to Grafton Bridge.


Karangahape is a word from the Māori language. Before Europeans appeared Auckland was occupied by several Māori iwi each of whom apparently used the same name for the Karangahape Ridge but with slightly different meanings.

The original meaning and origin of the word is uncertain; there are several interpretations – ranging from "winding ridge of human activity" to "calling on Hape". Hape was the tohunga (priest/navigator) of the Tainui migratory waka who lived around the Manukau Harbour. As the ridge was a walking route and was known as Te Ara o KarangahapeThe Path of Karangahape – the name possibly indicates the route that was taken to visit him.[1]

Until the mid 20th century Karangahape Road was the only street in central Auckland with a Māori name, undoubtedly due to its use as a thoroughfare in pre-European times. Its Māori name proved difficult for many European settlers to pronounce and as it was the only major thoroughfare in the central area demarcated as a "road" (as opposed to a street) during the 19th century it was apparently often referred to as "The Road".

In 1908 there was a movement to replace the long Māori name with something more urbane, European and modern. Although there were several public meetings and much discussion in the newspapers at the time, the city council was unmoved and the name survived. The topic re-emerged in 1913 but was again unsuccessful, probably because of the advent of the First World War. Just before the Royal Tour in 1953 there was another push to rename the road; this time as "Elizabeth Street" but again the original name survived. From the early 20th century it has become widely known as "K Road", even outside of Auckland.


The statistical area of Karangahape, which includes the streets between Hopetoun Street Beresford Square to the north and the northwestern motorway to the south, covers 0.28 km2 (0.11 sq mi)[2] and had an estimated population of 2,310 as of June 2022,[3] with a population density of 8,250 people per km2.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [4]

Karangahape had a population of 2,307 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 504 people (28.0%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 894 people (63.3%) since the 2006 census. There were 1,074 households, comprising 1,260 males and 1,047 females, giving a sex ratio of 1.2 males per female. The median age was 32.6 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 105 people (4.6%) aged under 15 years, 846 (36.7%) aged 15 to 29, 1,179 (51.1%) aged 30 to 64, and 174 (7.5%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 61.9% European/Pākehā, 5.5% Māori, 3.3% Pacific peoples, 29.6% Asian, and 7.3% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 56.7, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people chose not to answer the census's question about religious affiliation, 57.5% had no religion, 26.5% were Christian, 0.1% had Māori religious beliefs, 4.6% were Hindu, 1.8% were Muslim, 2.6% were Buddhist and 2.9% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 987 (44.8%) people had a bachelor's or higher degree, and 69 (3.1%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $43,800, compared with $31,800 nationally. 600 people (27.2%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 1,413 (64.2%) people were employed full-time, 291 (13.2%) were part-time, and 78 (3.5%) were unemployed.[4]


Corner Pitt Street and Karangahape Road in 1909, showing the rich architecture typical of many historic retail buildings constructed on the ridge street.
K'Road in 1957, a healthy main street with department stores and many other shops – before the motorways destroyed or degraded much of the surrounding residential areas, starting several decades of decline.[5]
The western portion of the street became run-down and turned into the city's red-light district. The main part of the street remained a shopping hub but in the mind of the general public the reputation of the street as a whole became very disreputable. Now only a small number of obvious remnants of that time, such as the 'Vegas Girl' of the 'Las Vegas' strip club, still exist in the 2000s.[6]

As it was a travel route used by the pre-European Māori, Karangahape Road is an older thoroughfare than Queen Street, which was only developed by Europeans in the 1840s. The land was part of the parcel of 3000 acres sold by a local Māori to the government in 1841.[7] The Karangahape ridge was the formal southern edge of Auckland City in the 19th century.[7] In 1882 the ratepayers of Newton (along with Ponsonby and Grafton) voted to become part of Auckland City.

From about 1900 to the early 1960s, K' Road was Auckland's busiest shopping street with a large range of clothing and shoe shops and several department stores. Most retail chain stores had branches here, often in preference to Queen Street. During the interwar period most of Auckland's main shops selling furniture, musical instruments, radios and household appliances were located here.[8][9]

In 1908 the gas street lighting was replaced with electric lamps. In 1935 the whole street was lit by electric lights under the shop awnings to create a "Community Lighting" project referred to as the "Great White Way". Activated by the Mayor Sir Ernest Davis this created a mile of lit-up shop fronts which added to the glamour of late night shopping. In 1948 the second set of traffic lights in Auckland (and the first lights to have pedestrian phases) were installed at the Pitt Street intersection. In 1949 the street lamps were fitted with the first fluorescent street lights in New Zealand.[7]

The Karangahape Road Business Association (KBA) had begun in 1911 as an informal gathering of business people in the area. It officially dates from 1924 when it was registered as the Karangahape Road Businessmen's Association. Its first president was Mathew James Bennett, who ran a paint, wallpaper and interior decorating firm. Bennett was involved in a number of organisations including the Auckland Electric Power Board.

During the middle of the 20th century the Karangahape Road Area was a destination shopping centre, especially busy on late nights when family groups would travel in (often on public transport) and clog the pavements. A line was painted down the centre of the footpaths to regulate foot traffic and police were posted at the Pitt Street intersection to stop people being pushed out into the traffic. A typical late-night outing included seeing a movie, shopping, a meal and promenading along the street window shopping and being seen. At this time the street had five cinemas (The Avon, Vogue, Newton Palace, Playhouse and Tivoli) and probably as many dance halls (The Music Academy, Peter Pan Cabaret) including the Druid's Hall in Galatos Street which is still in operation as a music venue.

K Road was the location of many shops aimed at the beauty and fashion trade; fabric, clothing, shoes, accessories and many specialist hair and beauty salons (Kay's Beauty Salon, Winter's Hair Dressing, Miss Hubber, The Powder Puff Salon). There were several photographers' studios located along the ridge since the late Victorian period (Ellerbeck, Andrews, Morton's, Partington, Tadema, Sarony, St John Biggs, Peter Pan Studios). In addition to a collection of some fairly upmarket dress emporiums (Flacksons, LaGonda) and furriers, there were a number of establishments which specialised in bridal fashions and accessories (Tadema Studios was just one of the photographers which specialised in Wedding photography).

As shops were not open on Saturdays or Sundays before the 1980s, the inner city was rather quiet during the day on the weekends. Karangahape Road was an exception, however. Most weddings take place on a Saturday and groups of women would loiter on K road outside the many photographers' studios to catch a glimpse of wedding parties as they arrived or departed from having their studio portraits taken. Sundays were a social event as well; up until the 1960s people attending church dressed up and there was interest in what people, especially women, were wearing.

The Karangahape Road area was the location of several major churches; The Baptist Tabernacle, The Pitt St Methodist Church, St James' Wellington Street, Congregationalist, St Benedicts, The Church of Christ Scientist, The Church of Christ, The Church of the Epiphany, Church of Jesus, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Chinese Presbyterian Church, the Salvation Army, Pacific Island Church, two Brethren Halls and after 1966, the main Synagogue. There was also the Higher Thought Temple, The Theosophical Society, The Foresters Hall, The Druids Hall, The Scots Hall, The Hibernian Society, The Irish Hall, three Freemasons Halls, several Trade Unions, the Maori Hall and the Old Folks Association. Any of these organisations were likely to be the location of a service, lecture or social event on any given day.

After 1965, K' Road lost most of its local customer base when construction of the inner-city motorway system resulted in over 50,000 people having to move out of the surrounding areas.[8][9] The downturn in trade led to many shops closing and the relocating of businesses to other areas of Auckland. This accelerated the decline, and by the early 1970s the low rents in the western portion of the street meant it had acquired a rather seedy reputation as Auckland's red-light district although the adult industry never accounted for more than 4 percent of the businesses in the area at any time.

Since the early 1990s there has been a move away from this image largely due to newly constructed apartment blocks attracting residents back to the area, as well as a general gentrification of close by areas such as Ponsonby. Karangahape Road is probably the most notorious street in the country, as most people imagine it is lined with strip clubs, brothels and adult shops. The reality is different; despite the street's reputation very few enterprises are connected with the adult industry; the proportion of outre establishments to more ordinary businesses has remained fairly constant at about 3% between the early 1960s (when the first Red Light business appeared) and today.[8] Even at its height of its reputation (between the 1970s and 1990s) as the biggest Red Light area in the country there were never more than 12 Adult businesses. Today there are 150 shops along the main road, K Road, and around 700 businesses in the general area - in 2010 only 8 were connected with the sex industry - in 2022 there are 6.

K Road currently boasts an eclectic collection of shops, cafés and a nucleus of dealer art galleries. Since the early 1990s it has developed as a focus for nightlife; its restaurants, bars and nightclubs make it a major part of Auckland's social scene. This is largely due to redevelopment of the Queen Street valley in the 1980s as increased rents made many nightclub venues relocate to the K Road ridge. Since the mid 1990s K Road has become a centre for much of Auckland's bohemian scene, with many venues for alternative music and fringe art as well as the LGBT community. In 2007, a museum dedicated to the preservation of sapphic lesbian culture was created and the Charlotte Museum Trust was registered. The organization became part of the Te Papa National Museum Standards programme and currently occupies space just off of K Road on Howe Street.[10][11][12][13] This area is also known for its trendy op shops, and craft and art collectives.

The street received a major upgrade of its footpaths and street furniture which finished in 2006, at a cost of NZ$3.5 million.[14] As of 2009, approximately 400 businesses were on K Road.[8]

In 2011 the Karangahape Road overbridge had a $2.1 million upgrade as part of the Rugby World Cup Celebration. Designed by Opus Architecture and funded by Auckland Transport, it took 6 weeks to complete. Included in the design were three internally lit perspex pylons which act as entry markers for the bridge designed by the renowned Tongan artist Filipe Tohi. In 2021, a Rainbow Crossing was installed to celebrate the area's history as a refuge for queer people.[15]

Notable buildings and landmarks[edit]

Popular guided heritage walks are conducted on Karangahape Road. Notable buildings and sites include:

Symonds Street intersection[edit]

Partington's Windmill
Symonds Street tram shelter
  • Cordis Hotel, 77–79 Symonds Street. At the corner of Karangahape Road and Symonds Street. This was a Sheraton Hotel before becoming part of the Langham chain. In 2017, Langham Hotel was renamed the Cordis Hotel.[16] Partington's Windmill stood on the site from 1850 to 1950. The windmill's demolition was controversial and led to laws for heritage protection and the formation of Heritage New Zealand.[7]
  • colourful rainbow fencing and bus shelters on Grafton Bridge lit at night
    Grafton Bridge at night
    Grafton Bridge, 1910. At the eastern end of Karangahape Road, a large concrete structure spanning Grafton Gully. When it was completed in 1910 it was the largest concrete single-span bridge in the world. Its construction required disturbing only eight graves.
  • 1910 tram shelter, Symonds Street. Built in 1910 by Auckland City Council to accompany the adjoining bridge this ornate tram shelter includes public toilets. These may have been the first public toilets for women.
  • Symonds Street Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Auckland and the first official burial ground. Here are located the graves of many of Auckland's early settlers including Captain William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand who died in 1842. The cemetery was officially closed in 1905 when it was handed over to the Auckland City Council as a park. When the motorway system was constructed in the mid 1960s, it required the moving of over 4100 bodies. These were reinterred in two memorial sites within the cemetery.
  • Jewish Centennial Memorial Hall. Designed by Albert Goldwater and his son John Goldwater this structure is in the International Modernist style. Dating from 1953 this chapel and mortuary replaces an earlier wooden building from the 19th century. It commemorates the first Jewish religious ceremony held in New Zealand in 1853.

Queen Street intersection[edit]

  • Former Bank of New South Wales. 111 Karangahape Road. 1926 Neo-Georgian building. During the first half of the 20th century banks so favoured the use of this style that it was even satirised as "Bankers Georgian". This is the first project in New Zealand by the Australian Engineering firm of Stevenson and Turner, who have subsequently been responsible for most of the larger hospitals.
  • Baptist Tabernacle, 1884, Edmund Bell architect. 429–431 Queen St. This brick and stucco structure was designed in the Imperial Roman style. Based upon the London Metropolitan Tabernacle located at the Elephant and Castle. The Portico is a quotation from the Pantheon in Rome.
  • Ironbank, 150–154 K Road: An award-winning modern (2009) mixed-used development lauded and criticised for looking like "rusting containers".
  • J Morris Ltd, 151 Karangahape Road. English Baroque style building by William Holman. J Morris Ltd was a Homewares store which has the record of organising the first Auckland Christmas Parade in 1912, an idea later copied by George Courts and eventually the Farmers Trading Company.
  • Melverns, 155 K Road. Neo-Greek building from around 1926 for a Homewares store. Upstairs was located the Savoy Tea Rooms and Reception Hall.
  • The Bristol – 161 K Road. Neo-classical building by the prestigious firm of Gummer and Ford. Piano showroom for the Bristol Piano Company. After the closure of the Bristol this became Snedden's Haberdashery Store.
  • Verona Buildings 165 K Road. A Neo-Greek style building from 1923 designed by Walter Arthur Cumming. This structure takes its name from the earlier wooden house which occupied this site – a two storied Kauri house built for a Doctor Holloway in 1884.
  • St Kevin's Arcade, 1924, extended 1926, Walter Arthur Cumming architect. 183 K Road. A shopping arcade in the 1920s Neo-Greek style. It incorporates the K Road entrance to Myers Park. In the mid-19th century when Auckland was the capital of New Zealand, this was the site of the second Government House in Auckland,[7] while the Old Government House, now part of the University of Auckland was being rebuilt after the 1848 fire. The arcade takes its name from that house, Saint Keven's, which occupied this site until 1922.
  • Myers Park. On the slope of the Karangahape ridge facing north towards the Waitematā Harbour is a natural gully now the site of Myers Park, created by the efforts of, and named after Arthur Myers MP. This is, or rather was, the start of the Waihorotiu Stream also known as the "Queen Street River".
  • Espano Flats – 20 Poynton Terrace. Spanish Mission style apartment block by A. Sinclair O'Connor.
  • Former Rendell's Department Store, 1904, extended 1911, William Alfred Holman architect. 184 K Road. Brick and stucco retail building in the late 19th century Italianate style. Holman was a relative of William Morris.

Pitt Street intersection[edit]

Symonds St Cemetery.
  • Former Palace Theatre (also known as Newton Picture Palace until 1915) – 251–253 Karangahape road. Built as a Foresters Hall in 1884 this was turned into a cinema in 1911. In 1926 R&W Hellaby Ltd converted the theatre into shops with the top floor becoming a cabaret and dance floor. The first female City Councillor, Ellen Meville made speeches here.
  • Former George Court and Sons Department Store – 1924, Clinton Savage architect, based on Selfridges in Oxford Street, London. 238 K Road; Corner K Road and Mercury Lane. Proto-modern building showing the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright and Otto Wagner. The Court brothers opened their first drapery store on K Road in the 1890s (cnr Liverpool St).[7]
  • stone front brick side of Mercury Theatre
    Mercury Theatre
    Mercury Theatre – 1910, Edward Bartley architect. 9 Mercury Lane. The oldest surviving theatre in Auckland. This English Baroque styled building was constructed in 1910 as the Kings Theatre for Sir Benjamin Fuller. When it was converted into a cinema in 1926 a new entrance on K Road was built (now the Norman Ng building). Between 1962 and 1990 this was the location of the Mercury Theatre Company. The street's name, France Street, was changed to Mercury Lane in the 1990s in memory of the Theatre Company. Currently owned by a church, it is occasionally used as a theatre.
  • Norman Ng Building – 256 Karangahape Road. 1926 entrance to the Prince Edward Picture Theatre (previously the King's Theatre) designed by Daniel B Patterson for Sir Benjamin Fuller. After the cinema closed in 1959 this building was sold off and purchased by Norman Ng who ran a fruit & vegetable shop here. A popular café called Brazil was located here for almost two decades from the early 1990s, a succession of cafes has succeeded it. The renovated interior boasts many original Art-Deco features.

East Street intersection[edit]

  • Samoa House – 283 Karangahape Road. Modernist building by JASMAD architects (now JASMAX) Location of the Samoan Consulate. Includes the first Fale built outside of Samoa.
  • Newton Post Office – 292–300 Karangahape Road. 1973 modernist building by the firm of Mark-Brown, Fairhead and Sang for the Ministry of Works. The Bronze bas-relief on the main facade by Guy Ngan.
  • The Las Vegas Girl – 335 Karangahape Road. The most obvious example of the K Rd's reputation as a red-light district of the 1960s–90s. The large sign of a nude woman conceals a building from about 1900, built as Frederick Prime's Hardware Store. Until the late 1980s the ground floor was occupied by a T&T Childrenwear shop.
  • Former Le Bon Marche Department Store – Joseph Zahara, who had previously worked at the Bon Marche in Paris and John Lewis in London opened a French Millinery Emporium here before the First War. Zahara's business expanded and eventually occupied three buildings on this site becoming the largest Millinery establishment in the Dominion. He employed the architect A.Sinclair O'Connor to unify the disparate facades with an Art-Deco treatment across all three buildings. In the 1930s Zahara advertised that he had a million hats in stock and as well as tearooms there was an indoor miniature golf course provided for the use of customers.
  • Former Vogue Picture Theatre. Former Vogue Cinema – The cinema, designed by the architects A.Sinclair O'Connor and J. Christie was constructed in 1914. Its facade was incorporated into the Bon Marche Chambers next door which was occupied by the theatre's proprietor M.J. Zahara. It went through name changes from the "Arcadia", to the "Star" and finally the "Vogue". In 1939–1940 its interior received a streamline modern-art-deco make over by A.Sinclair O'Connor. The Vogue closed in 1955 and was used as warehouse space and a carpet & lino showroom until the early 1990s. Its interior was extensively renovated around 1991 as DTM, a Gay nightclub. It has continued to be used as a nightclub venue since then. Portions of the 1930s interior survive.
  • Wrights Confectionary Factory – 358 K Road. 1917 building which contained a factory above a cake shop & tearooms run by George Wright.
  • Former Newton Hotel – 382 Karangahape Road. This building probably dates from around 1866 making it the oldest building in the area. Due to changes in the licensing laws it ceased to be a pub in 1909 and was used as retail shops until it became a Café/bar called Kamo in the early 1990s.

Howe Street intersection[edit]

  • the "Chaise Lange" – 461 Karangahape Road. Sculptural seat by New Zealand ceramic artist Peter Lange.
  • Hellaby's Corner – Built before 1900 as an independent butchers shop, this became a branch of Hellaby's Butchers around 1913 and remained one into the 1960s. In the 1980s, Clown's restaurant was located here. Currently the Thirsty Dog Pub.
  • Garrets Block – Cnr Howe street. 1886 brick retail buildings for the Garrett Brothers who operated a boot manufacturing & retail establishment here. These buildings replaced wooden shops which burnt down in a great fire in 1885 which destroyed this entire block.
  • Purchas Block – 444–472 Karangahape Road. Designed by Edward Bartley and built in 1884 for Dr Purchas. Expensive English red brick and Oamaru Stone detailing is used on the facades. The bronze shop window frames and Mintons tile shop fronts date from the 1930s.

Edinburgh Street intersection[edit]

444-472 Karangahape Road, east of the Edinburgh Street intersection.
  • Pacific Island Church – Edinburgh Street. This is the First Pacific Island Church in New Zealand, founded by the late Susuga a le Toeaina Reverend Leuatea Sio in 1947. The current building dates from 1962 and was used as a location for the wedding scenes in the 2006 film Sione's Wedding and a similar scene in the 2012 sequel film.
  • Pacific Island Church Memorial – outside the church is a granite obelisk erected in 1997 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the church in 1947 by the late Susuga a le Toeaina Reverend Leuatea Sio. The obelisk is engraved with Pacific Island images and patterns; the lamp which surmounted it has been recently restored.
  • Pacific Island Church Hall – The current building dates from 1979 and was opened by the then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, it replaces several late Victorian wooden buildings which had been the centre of the Newton Presbyterian Church.
  • Maori Hall – 5 Edinburgh Street. 1907 Foresters Hall turned into a Maori community facility in 1931. Currently owned by the PI Church opposite.

Hereford Street intersection[edit]

  • George Wallace Building – 510 Karangahape Road. Built in 1913 as a furniture store this was the location of the Pink Pussy Cat Club from 1963 to 2001
  • M.J.Bennett Building – 501 Karangahape Rd. Built for M J Bennett Ltd, a firm of decorators, house painters and colour merchants. This building is circa 1902, which is later than the adjacent buildings which are from 1886. The wooden shops which previously occupied this block were burnt down in a great fire in 1885. From 1885 until 1902 the Newton Volunteer Fire Brigade was located on this site prior to the formation of the Auckland Municipal Fire Board in 1902 and the construction of the fire station in nearby Pitt street the same year. Mathew James Bennett was the first president of the Karangahape Road Businessmen's Association in 1924.
  • Ambury & English Building – 531 Karangahape Road. Currently Joy Bong Thai restaurant. An early tenant was the Ambury & English Devonshire Dairy. In the 1970s the KG nightclub was located here, one of NZ's first lesbian nightclubs.
  • Old Folks Coronation Hall – 8 Gundry Street. Community Hall designed by Henry Kulka, a pupil of Adolf Loos in 1953, partially funded with money to celebrate the Queen's Coronation. Opened by Sir Bill Jordan. The Auckland Old Folks Association was founded in 1945 and still operates the hall as a community facility.

Ponsonby Road intersection[edit]

  • Ponsonby Reservoir – The first reservoir on this site was designed by City Engineer William Errington. That structure from the 1880s was rebuilt in the 1950s when the adjoining pumping station and Turncock's house were demolished. This reservoir is gravity fed with water from the Waitākere Ranges.
  • Vaana Peace Mural – Visual Artists Against Nuclear Arms. In 1985, eight founding VAANA artists: Pat Hanly, Margaret Lawlor-Bartlett, Jill Carter-Hansen, John Nicol, John Eaden, Claudia Pond Eyley, Nigel Brown and Vanya Lowry each painted large panels in the main gallery at Outreach (now Artstation) with members of the public giving verbal encouragement. Master potters Peter Lange and Lex Dawson worked with Master Builder Matt Stafford to fix the panels to the wall. The mural was recreated in 2006 with extra panels being added.

Media connections[edit]

Western part of K'Road, looking east.

Karangahape Road was the location of two of the earliest radio stations in the country; In 1923 Charles Pearson obtained a license for the first radio station in Auckland. Initially called 1YB this station was renamed 1ZB in 1931. Its frequency was 1090AM. Pearson's morning announcer was a young woman called Maud Basham who later became famous as Aunt Daisy.

The first broadcasting house in Auckland, The Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand, operated from 1925 to 1931 on France Street with large radio antennae on top of the George Courts building. It ran a commercial radio station with the call sign 1YA and the frequency 910AM until it was absorbed into the Government Broadcasting System as part of National Radio in the 1930s.

K Road has recently re-emerged as a film and audiovisual precinct. It has six independent film-makers and three screening venues. It was also the home of now defunct independent television station Alt TV.

Two radio stations, K FM Radio and Boosh.FM, operate from the street. K FM Radio broadcasts on the frequency 106.9 to most of the Auckland central business district and some of the inner-city suburbs. It plays reggae, dub, lounge, jazz, blues, funk and hip-hop in an attempt to reflect the diverse and alternative culture of Karangahape Road. Originally broadcasting from St.Kevin's Arcade, it is now based at 208 Karangahape Road.[17]

The offices of Women in Film and Television (WIFT) were located at 1 Beresford Square until about 2012.

The Auckland office of the New Zealand Film Archive was located in 300 Karangahape Road until about 2012, where the institute had a reference library and exhibition space.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

The song "Verona" by New Zealand rock band Elemeno P, from their album Love & Disrespect, refers to the café/restaurant/bar of the same name at 169 Karangahape Road. The current Verona building dates from 1923 and takes its name from the Victorian house that previously occupied the site, Mrs Bishop's "Verona" Boarding House.

Geddes Dental Renovations was a dental firm located in the K Road area on Queen Street. The company's radio jingle (broadcast from 1949 until the early 1980s) became a defining part of Auckland's culture; it was said it was possible to ascertain the presence of Aucklanders anywhere in the world by singing the Geddes' song.

Sung to the tune 'My Darling Clementine'

Broke my denture, broke my denture. Woe is me, what shall I do?

Take it in to Mr. Geddes, and he'll fix it just like NEW.

What's the address, what's the address? Hurry please, and tell me DO!

Top of Queen Street, on the corner, and the number's Four – Nine – TWO.

Arguably New Zealand's most famous commercial even though it hasn't been broadcast since the early 1980s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4G_Ne8YjR0

In Film & Television[edit]

  • 1987 Walkshort: a short film directed by Bill Toepfer featuring Harry Sinclair and Don McGlashan
  • 1987 Jewel's Darl: a short film by Peter Wells starring Georgina Beyer, one of the scenes takes place on K Road.
  • 1995 TV interview by Mark Staufer of Jordan Luck as his band The Exponents plays on a rooftop on K Road to promote a new album and tour.
  • 1998 "I Can Change" by Trip to the Moon: Music Video showing several scenes on K Road. A collaboration between Tom Ludvigson and Trevor Reekie with Bobbylon of the Hallelujah Picassos on vocals.
  • 1999 Ode to K' Rd Music Video by "Peter Stuyvesant Hitlist" – filmed entirely on K Road.
  • 2004 1Nite Full-length feature film by Amarbir Singh – centring largely around K Road.
  • 2005 The song "Verona" by New Zealand rock band Elemeno P, from their album Love & Disrespect
  • 2006 Sione's Wedding: The Wedding scene is filmed in the Pacific Island Church in Edinburgh Street
  • 2012 Sione's 2: Unfinished Business: several outdoor scenes were shot on K Road.

Famous shops on K Road[edit]

A surprising number of nationally known shops and brand names started on Karangahape Road or had a branch there.

Victorian to World War I[edit]

  • Partington's Victoria Flour Mill and Steam Biscuit Manufactury. 1850–1942.
  • Lewis Eady – 19 (now 75) K Road. Piano importer. Founded in the 1860s, still one of the biggest musical instrument stores but no longer on K Road.
  • Wendals Wine Bar – 128 (now 290) Karangahape Road. First wine bar in New Zealand (1876). Now defunct.
  • Rendells – 62 (now 184) K Road. Clothing store founded in 1884 at 42 Pitt St (cnr Grey St). First specialist babywear shop in NZ. Closed 2006.
  • M.J.Bennett Ltd – 253–255 (now 529) K Road. The city's premier paint shop and interior decorating firm operated by Mathew James Bennett and his wife.
  • J. Morris Ltd – 37–41 (now 145) K Road. Housewares store which organised the first Auckland Christmas Parade in 1912.
  • George Court & Sons – major department store 1900–1985 founded in 1900 on K road – Closed mid 1980s.
  • Hallenstein Brothers – still a major retailer of menswear. Left K Road in the late 1980s.
  • Bradstreets – 102–106 (now 258–264) K Road. Men's drapery shop from 1900, became Hugh Wrights in 1931, which closed in 2011.
  • Hannahs – major retailer of shoes, located on K Road from 1913 until the 1990s.
  • Buchanans – 42 (now 154) K Road. A famous confectioner from the 1890s, now Buchanan's Bread, no longer on K Road.
  • Stormonts – 20 (now 98) K Road. Bread manufacturer from 1900. No longer on K Road (now absorbed into Tip-Top Bread).
  • Wrights Confectionery Factory – 166 (now 358) K Road. George Wright proprietor.
  • The Bon Marche – 146 (now 326) K Road. NZ's biggest millinery emporium (over a million hats in stock) Founded in 1904 by Frenchman Joseph Zarhara- closed 1932.
  • Pascoes – 64 (now 202) K Road. Flagship store of the jewellery chain, now grown into a major retailing empire – no longer on K road.
  • Miss Carney – 21 (now 75) K Road. Auckland's most fashionable florist. 1910s to 1940s.
  • The King's Theatre – France Street (now Mercury Lane). Opened in 1910 and converted into a cinema in 1926. Now the Mercury Theatre.
  • The Tivoli Theatre (originally the Alhambra), designed by Henry Eli White – 9-11 (now 42) K Road. Opened in 1913 and demolished in 1980.

Interwar period[edit]

  • Stevens – china and gift shop, now a large chain of stores – started on K road in the 1920s; no longer on K road.
  • Levenes – paint and wallpaper. 174–178 K Road. Started on K Road in the 1930s, developing into a national chain of shops in the 1980s, left Krd 1990s.
  • Winters Hairdressing – famous salon from the 1920s – still operating on K road in the 1980s, no longer on K road.
  • Flacksons – ladies outfitters and beauty salon from the 1920s. Closed in the 1970s.
  • DE Lockhart Ltd (Pen Corner) – stationery and book sellers; also ran a lending library. Established in Ponsonby in the 1920s before relocating to the corner of K Road and Howe Street.
  • Kay's Beauty Salon – one of Auckland's best – relocated in the 1970s.
  • Tonson Garlick – Auckland's major furnishing company in the late 19th century – went out of business in the 1930s.[19]
  • Bristol Piano Company – major national chain of musical instrument dealers based in Dunedin – closed down in 1933 following the death of the owner.
  • Colefax Menswear – an establishment which retained the aura of the 1950s until it closed in the first years of the 21st century.
  • The Maple Furnishing Company (later to become Smith & Brown and Maple) – closed in the 1970s.
  • Selfridges (NZ) Ltd – 1930s–1950s. Woolworths-like emporium – part of a nationwide chain. No connection with the London emporium.
  • J.R.McKenzies – 1950s–1970s. Woolworths-like emporium – part of a nationwide chain, now defunct.
  • Sneddens Haberdashery – major firm from the 1920s; went out of business in the 1960s.
  • Woolworths – part of a nationwide chain. Closed in the 1990s.
  • Whitcombe and Tombes – nationwide chain of bookshops, now Whitcoulls. Left K Road, moved back and left again.
  • Leo O'Malley's – menswear store – oldest store on K Road – opened on the corner of Pitt Street in 1935, closed 2019.
  • The Pearl Fish Shop – decorated with painted glass panels – closed 1980s, building demolished.
  • The White Fish Shop – 514 Karangahape Road. Decorated with painted glass panels – closed 1990s.
  • Adams Bruce – 177 K Road. Famous bakery from 1929. Owned by Ernest Adams and Hugh Bruce.[20] No longer on K road.
  • Dominion Wine Bar – 177 K Road. Opened in the 1930s, once the only wine bar in the Auckland Province. Closed in the late 1980s.
  • The Vogue Picture Theatre – 340 K Rd. Opened in 1940. Originally the Arcadia which opened in 1914 and was renamed the Star in 1935. Now a nightclub.

Post World War II[edit]

  • Geddes Dental Renovations (1945) – 492 Queen Street, Cnr City Rd – had a famous radio commercial. Sold to Guardian Dental in 2002. Building demolished.
  • Peter Pan Ballroom & Cabaret – Queen St near City Road. One of Auckland's main nightclubs from the 1940s to the 70s. Building demolished.
  • Garth Chester – France St (now Mercury Lane). Furniture showroom of the work of Garth Chester – important 1950s NZ modernist designer.
  • Para Rubber – 344 K Road. Occupied the former Vogue Cinema. Company now defunct.
  • LaGonda – 207 K Road. 1950s ladies fashion store – flagship of a chain of over 50 shops throughout NZ owned by the Gonda family of Parnell. K Road store closed after the company was sold in the 1970s.
  • Davis' Furnishers – important furniture shop – moved from 59 Pitt Street in the 1990s.
  • Beggs Menswear – originally at 61 Pitt Street - relocated to 55 Pitt Street, closed 2019.
  • The Floriana Pizza Bar – delicatessen and pizzeria in Pitt Street. Closed in the 1980s.
  • DTR (Dominion Television Rentals) – moved from 65 Pitt Street in the 1980s.
  • Barker & Pollock – Wellington drapery firm founded in the 1860s. Closed its K Road branch around 2000.
  • Modern Bags – located on K Road from the 1960s until the 1990s.
  • Hi Diddle Griddle – 507 K Road. Now closed; One of Auckland's most famous restaurants in the 1950s. Owned by Jim Jennings, run by Otto Goren.
  • Las Vegas Strip Club – oldest such establishment in NZ – opened in 1965 and closed in 2015.
  • Pink Pussy Cat Strip Club – 510 K Road. Owned by Rainton Hastie. Closed in 2001, now a dealer art gallery.
  • David Flame Fashions – Scadalous Scanties – 504 K Road. The only erotic lingerie shop in the 1970s. Owned by David Flame, closed 1980s.
  • The Naughty Knickers Coffee Bar – upstairs from David Flame Fashions, 504 K Road.
  • The Auckland Doll Hospital – toy shop and specialist repair service. Moved to Henderson in the 1970s, but the current business trading under the name is it connected with the Kroad firm.
  • The New Wine Bar – 177 K Road. Formerly the Dominion Wine Bar, the new business retained the murals by James Turkington. Closed late 1980s.
  • The Polynesian Dance Club – 251 K Road. Formerly the Newton Picture Palace. 1940s to the late 1950s.
  • Norman Ng's Fruit Shop – 256 K Road. Formerly the cinema entrance. Known as the only fruit shop with a marble floor. 1960–1994.
  • The Mercury Theatre – France Street. Important live theatre operated by the Mercury Theatre Group. 1968–1991.
  • The KG club – Auckland's first lesbian nightclub relocated from Beach Rd to the corner of Hereford St in 1978, closed after 2 years.
  • Verona – Bohemian Café – 165 Karangahape Road. Still flourishing – this is about the fourth business on this site to use the name which is derived from the Victorian house which occupied the site before the 1920s building was constructed.

1980s onwards[edit]

  • Stage Artware – ceramic studio specialising in hand-painted modernist china – moved from 90 K Road in the 1990s.
  • St Kevin's Arcade 2nd Hand Bookshop – 183 Karangahape Road.
  • Chaplin's – first gay nightclub on K Road – 119 K Road, circa 1988.
  • DTM (Don't Tell Mama) – 340 K Road. Opened around 1991 in the former Vogue Cinema, c!owed around 1993.
  • Staircase – 340 K Road. Opened around 1994 _ Actually Staircase III, then The Case. Now Studio.
  • Legends – gay bar in the 1990s – 335 K Road. Opened 1991 and closed late 1990s.
  • Calibre – nightclub in St Kevin's Arcade basement in the 1990s, now Whammy Bar. 183 Karangahape Road.
  • Brazil – 256 K Rd. Formerly Norman Ng's Fruit Shop – coffee house from the 1990s – closed around 2006.
  • Alleluya – café in St Kevins Arcade, 1994–2015. 183 Karangahape Road.
  • Dick Smith – was one of the earliest stores of the chain in the country, closed 2016.
  • IKo Iko – giftware retailer; opened in the 1990s; now relocated to Ponsonby Road.
  • The Thirsty Dog – cnr Howe Street – bar.
  • Urge – New Zealand's longest running gay establishment. Men's Bar 1998–2015.
  • Family – gay nightclub.
  • Eagle – gay bar.
  • The Grow Room – where like-minded individuals create art, music and poetry.


  • David Nathan (1816–1883) – merchant and Jewish community leader. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • Sir George Grey (1812–1898) – Premier of New Zealand, MP for Auckland West, twice Governor of NZ.
  • Lady Eliza Lucy Grey (1823–1898) – wife of George Grey.
  • Rev John Kinder (1819–1903) – Anglican clergyman, headmaster, watercolourist and pioneer photographer.
  • Major General Sir Duncan Cameron GCB (1808–1888) – Commander of the British Imperial Forces in New Zealand.
  • Major General Sir George Dean Pitt KH (1772–1851) – Lieutenant-Governor of New Ulster Province. Residence in Pitt Street, demolished in 1943. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • Lieutenant William Augustus Dean-Pitt KH (1833–1890) – son of Major General Sir George Dean Pitt. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • Charles Partington – windmill owner and health food enthusiast. Residence on City Road. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • Lewis Eady – piano importer and retailer. Residence on Liverpool Street.
  • Samuel Vaile – founder of the real estate company bearing his name. Residence on K Road opposite Cobden Street – demolished in 1927. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • Baron Charles de Thierry (1793–1864) – adventurer who attempted to establish his own sovereign state in New Zealand before British annexation. He spent his last years as a music teacher – residence on Symonds Street near City Road. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • Philip Herapath – died 1892 aged 70. Architect, lived in Day Street.
  • Sarah Dingwall – died 6 December 1943 aged 96. Spinster, lived on Day Street. Sarah and her brother David Dingwall left money for children's homes. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • Rev Dr Arthur Guyon Purchas (1821–1906) – Anglican clergyman, surgeon, musician. Residence on Pitt Street, demolished 1970s.
  • Israel Wendel – first proprietor of a wine bar in New Zealand (1876). Residence and vineyard on City Road.
  • Madame Valentine – the most notorious madame in 19th century Auckland – brothel in Waverley Street - demolished 2010
  • Robert De Montalk – architect, father of poet Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk – house demolished 1927.
  • David Goldie (1842–1926) – Mayor of Auckland – Kauri timber merchant. Residence on Pitt Street demolished in the 1970s.
  • Joseph Partington(1851–1941) – windmill owner, son of Charles. Residence on City Road. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • William Henry Thomas Partington (1855–1940) – photographer: son of Charles. Studio on Grey Street. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery.
  • Charles Goldie (1870–1947) – New Zealand portrait painter, son of David Goldie – house demolished in the 1970s.
  • Arthur Mielziner Myers (1868–1926) – Mayor of Auckland (1905–1909) and MP for Auckland (knighted 1924) – residence on Symonds Street, near St Martin's Lane – demolished in the 1990s.
  • Emily Keeling (1869–1886) – shot to death on her way to church by Edward Fuller who then killed himself. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery with her parents. Her funeral was attended by seven thousand people. House in Brisbane Street demolished for motorway.
  • David Lawrence Nathan (1882–1944) – last owner of St Kevins House, demolished in 1922.
  • Simone Renee Oulman (1888–1974) – wife of David Lawrence Nathan – born in Paris, Simone's parents were relations by marriage of Marcel Proust House demolished 1922 and replaced by St Kevin's Arcade.
  • Dennis Gunn ( – 1920) – first person convicted using fingerprint evidence. Lived in Somerset Place, off Howe St (rebuilt as pensioner housing).
  • Eve Maria Langley (1904–1974) – poet and novelist – lived in Partington's windmill in the late 1930s.
  • Colin McCahon (1919–1987) – renowned New Zealand painter – lived in Newton Gully in the 1950s (house removed to Freeman's Bay).
  • Bob Harvey (1940 – ) – Mayor of Waitakere City – grew up in Newton Gully in the 1950s (house removed for motorway).
  • John Banks (1946 – ) – Mayor of Auckland City – from age 15–17 lived at 48 East Street (removed for motorway).
  • Ahmed Zaoui ( ) – refugee, resided in the Dominican Priory in St Benedicts Street from 2004–2007.


  1. ^ Auckland City Street Names (from the Auckland City Libraries website)
  2. ^ "ArcGIS Web Application". statsnz.maps.arcgis.com. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Population estimate tables - NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Karangahape (134300). 2018 Census place summary: Karangahape
  5. ^ Edward Bennett. "The K'Road area in 1957" (PDF). Heritage Walk – Karangahape Road (Heritage Guide / Pamphlet). Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  6. ^ Edward Bennet. "The Las Vegas Girl, 335 Karangahape Road" (PDF). Heritage Walk – Karangahape Road (Heritage Guide / Pamphlet). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Taylor, Colin (23 October 2010). "A chance to own slice of hotel history". The New Zealand Herald. p. E1.
  8. ^ a b c d Taylor, Colin (17 October 2009). "Four-level property has plenty of options". The New Zealand Herald.
  9. ^ a b "K' Road". New Zealand Geographic. June 2014. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014.
  10. ^ "About | The Charlotte Museum Trust | Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland". The Charlotte Museum. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  11. ^ "New Zealand's only lesbian museum reopens at new location". Newshub. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  12. ^ "Charlotte Museum Trust | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  13. ^ Abraham, Matt; Lardies, Gabi (11 February 2023). "National Treasures: Charlotte Museum". North & South Magazine. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  14. ^ Orsman, Bernard (24 April 2008). "Final stage more facial than facelift". The New Zealand Herald.
  15. ^ Franks, Josephine (3 February 2021). "Rainbow crossing for Karangahape Rd will celebrate home of Auckland's queer community". Stuff NZ. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  16. ^ "The Langham hotel rebrands as Cordis Auckland". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  17. ^ KFMRadio.co.nz
  18. ^ Locations and Opening Hours Archived 3 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine (from the official New Zealand Film Archive website)
  19. ^ "Profitable Sale". Auckland Star. 25 May 1927. p. 10. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Story: Adams, Ernest Alfred – Biography". Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 15 August 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • "The Lively Capital, Auckland 1840–1865" Una Platts, Avon Fine Prints Limited New Zealand 1971.
  • The Heart of Colonial Auckland, 1865–1910. Terence Hodgson. Random Century NZ Ltd 1992.
  • Colonial Architecture in New Zealand. John Stacpoole. A.H & A.W Reed 1976
  • Decently And in Order, The Centennial History of the Auckland City Council. G.W.A Bush. Collins 1971.
  • Auckland Through A Victorian Lens. William Main. Millwood Press 1977.
  • Heritage Walks – The Engineering Heritage of Auckland. Elizabeth Aitken Rose. Tourism Auckland & IPENZ; Auckland Heritage Engineering Committee. I2005

External links[edit]

  • K'Road (official K'Road business association website, includes good heritage section)
  • Karangahape Road Online (mainly a business listings website, includes timeline, virtual tour – streetscroll)