While Auckland’s main eating and dining areas – Britomart, Wynyard Quarter, Ponsonby – get ever slicker, Karangahape Road
(always known as K’ Road) somehow remains
grungy – in a good way. Rumours of its gentrification always seem premature.
Every few years up-an-coming designers or artist collectives open a boutique or
a gallery but if they’re successful they seem to move elsewhere leaving a patchwork
of tattoo joints, vinyl emporia, funky cafés, ethnic restaurants, Chinese
mini-markets and a smattering of mostly downscale bars.
Originally a fashionable shopping street, K’ Road became a meeting
point for the city’s growing Polynesian population in the 1970s then morphed
into Auckland’s gay heartland. What you see these days depends very much on the
time of day you visit. Some of the students, creatives and business people who hang
out here during the day get gradually replaced by diners in from the suburbs,
then by the night time denizens – a lively mix of the homeless, gays, gig goers
and general revellers. Mostly it is safe, though some people won’t feel
comfortable after dark.
While you’re up this
way, divert into St Kevin’s Arcade (150 K’ Rd), where a few progressive shops and cafés are taking root, and
glance up at the modern Ironbank building, almost opposite, which won architectural awards for its stylish take
on a stack of rusty boxes.