Neighbourhood Hangs: Your Guide to Karangahape Road

A covered arcade filled with shops.

The somewhat brighter, more vivacious cousin of Ponsonby Road, Auckland's Karangahape Road boasts just as much foot traffic and loyal lovers who come for the vintage shopping and community-conscious eateries.

Words by: Nicole Mudgway

Photos by: Nancy Zhou, Naomi Haussmann and Anna Briggs 

Karangahape Road, also known as K Road, is the cultural (and arguably, culinary) soul of Auckland’s CBD. The area took off after the expansion of nearby motorways in the 1960s. In a previous life, Karangahape Road was the city’s somewhat shady Red Light District, and over time, it has transitioned into a hub for foodies, artists, fashionistas and even the homeless. 

Don’t be surprised to see outfits that you wouldn’t see elsewhere in Auckland, as K Roaders pride themselves on the vintage and thrift shop scene they surround themselves with, and if you’re looking for that bargain second-hand t-shirt to finish your next look, this is the place to come.

K Road is certainly one of Auckland’s most diverse and creative streets. Its former reputation has done nothing to deter visitors – instead, those who set up shop here seem somewhat proud of the area’s shady history, giving them a mysterious edge that transfers into both the fashion and food scene. Adorned with street art and lined with galleries, bars and restaurants, K Road prides itself on being welcoming and inclusive. 

Morning coffee and breakfast

Cafes key icon.

179/183 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Start your day with a coffee and scone at Fort Greene, or grab a cold brew to take away from Daily Daily. Alternatively, Bestie, housed in the impressive St Kevin’s Arcade building, is a popular spot for leisurely breakfasts, providing remarkable seated views over Myers Park or of the building's stunning interior. For good reason, the cheese toastie with a chilli fried egg is a staple on Bestie’s ever-changing food menu - the quince jelly and fresh spring onion sure make for some perfectly paired garnishes.

Conscious consuming

Fashion key icon.

225 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland

K Road is well known for its thrift shops and other funky stores. Conscious consumers will be right at home in Crushes, a vintage store also home to a refillery and plenty of handmade pieces by local artists and designers. Nearby, Smoove is a retro second hand store with plenty of treasures just waiting to be found. Book lovers will enjoy The Green Dolphin Bookshop, and neighbouring Flying Out will keep music enthusiasts occupied. Lastly, consumers of all things fine will want to visit Everyday Wine, an all-organic wine store focusing on wild-fermented, unfiltered and vegan wine.

Peruse the galleries

Galleries and museum key icon.

3/582 Karangahape Road, Entrance via 2 Newton Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland

As far as creativity goes, K Road punches well above its weight. Bergman Gallery is a dealer gallery representing and exhibiting artists from the broader Pacific region, somewhat similar to Tautai, which now showcases works from contemporary Pacific creatives out of its newly expanded premises. Tür Studio is a clothing and homewares store, exhibition space, event hall and, as folklore would have it, occasional makeshift venue of late night parties. Finally, Artspace Aotearoa is a forward thinking, artist led, non-profit contemporary art gallery designed to push the boundaries of the viewer's mind.

Apéritif, hors d'oeuvres and a feast

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375 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland

If a day of shopping and gallery viewing doesn’t spark an appetite, the multi-fusion smells wafting along K Road undoubtedly will. Happy hour deals at Coco’s Cantina always start the night off right, or cross the road to Cotto for a lively, communal style dinner over shared plates with the group. Don’t miss Cotto’s spinach, goat’s cheese and sage dumplings, but save some room for their latest spin on a tiramisu for dessert. Alternatively, head back to St Kevin’s Arcade for an abundance of options - try Low Brow for well priced burgers and beer, Gemmayze Street for a Lebanese inspired feast or Pici for some of the city’s best cacio e pepe, handsdown. 

Night cap

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280 Karangahape Road, Auckland

Finish the night off with a tipple at Bar Celeste or a glass of fine wine at sophisticated yet unpretentious Apero Food and Wine. Check online for the latest gigs playing underground at The Wine Cellar or  Whammy Bar, the latter again being housed in St Kevin’s Arcade. Whatever your vibe, there’s bound to be something along K Road that tickles your fancy. 

Neat Auckland Places

Vaniyé Pâtisserie

Full sized tarts for sale at Vaniyé Pâtisserie, Auckland.
Place Auckland
Cafes key icon.

Those with a penchant for French finery won’t want to miss a decadent trip to Vaniyé Pâtisserie. This award-winning patisserie is the passion project of husband-and-wife team, Sonia and Laurent Haumonté.

Everyday Needs

Homewares on shelves.
Place Auckland Editor's Pick

As the shop’s name suggests, the focus here is on items for the home that are practical and useful – the kind of things you couldn’t imagine living without.

Mr T's Baked Goods & Eatery

Close up of baguettes for sale at Mr T's Baked Goods and Eatery, Auckland.
Place Auckland
Cafes key icon.

A trip to

Tanuki's Cave

A packed restaurant on a dark night.
Place Auckland
Restaurants key icon.

Tucked away on Queen Street (in the middle of Auckland’s arts precinct) lies Tanuki’s Cave: a not-so-secret, gem of a yakitori bar.