Karangahape Road

Karangahape Road

Karangahape Road
Karangahape Road from the intersection with Pitt Street.
Length 1 km (1 mi)
Location Auckland CBD, Auckland, New Zealand

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 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 Maori language. Before Europeans appeared Auckland was occupied by several Maori 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 a Māori chief (or mythical personage) of some importance living over on the Manukau Harbour in a place also called Karangahape. As the ridge was a walking route and was known as Te Ara o Karangahape - The 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 Maori name. It's Maori 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 Maori 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.


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.[2]
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, like the 'Vegas Girl' of the 'Las Vegas' strip club, still exist in the 2000s.[3]

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 local Māori sold to the government in 1841.[4] The Karangahape ridge was the formal southern edge of Auckland City in the 19th century.[4] 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 along with 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.[5][6]

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.[4]

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. It's 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). As well as 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 fairly major social event as well, up until the 1960s people attending church dressed up and the interest in what people, especially women, were wearing was fairly intense.

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, Church of the 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 organizations 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.[5][6] 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 anytime.

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 like 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 general reputation very few enterprises are connected with the adult industry, for example there are 150 shops along the main road, K Road, and only 8 of them are connected with the Sex industry.[5] Interestingly this proportion of outre establishments to more ordinary businesses has remained fairly constant for almost 40 years.

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. It is also known for its trendy op shops, and Craft & 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.[7] As of 2009, approximately 400 businesses are on K Road.[5]

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,

Notable buildings and landmarks

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

Symonds Street Intersection

  • 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. Interestingly its construction only required disturbing 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 fom 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

  • Former Stevenson and Turner, who have subsequently been responsible for most of the larger Hospitals.
  • 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 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,[4] 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 Waitemata 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".

Pitt Street Intersection

  • 1912 Fire Station - One Beresford Square. Designed by Goldsboro & Wade architects. Extension to the earlier 1902 structure.
  • [4]
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 Councilor, Ellen Meville made speeches here.
  • Former [4]
  • 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

  • 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 minuature 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. It's 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

  • the "Chaise Lange" - 461 Karangahape Road. Sculptural seat by well known New Zealand Ceramic artist Peter Lange.
  • Helleby'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 1980 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 replace 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

  • 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.
  • 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. 1909 Foresters Hall turned into a Maori community facility in 1931. Currently owned by the PI Church opposite.

Hereford Street Intersection

  • 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 Krd. Built for M J Bennett Ltd, a firm of decorators, house painters & 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 Auckalnd 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 Alfred Loos in 1953, partially funded with money to celebrate the Queen's Coronation. Opened by Sir William Jordan. The Auckland Old Folks Association was founded in 1945 and still operates the Hall as a community facility.

Ponsonby Road Intersection

  • Ponsonby Reservoir. The first Reservoir on this site was designed by the City Engineerr 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 Waitakere 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

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. It's 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, 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 audio visual 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's now based at 208 Karangahape Road.[8]

The offices of Women in Film and Television (WIFT) are located at 1 Beresford Square.

The Auckland office of the New Zealand Film Archive is located in 300 Karangahape Road, where the institute has a reference library and exhibition space.[9]

In popular culture

The song "Verona" by New Zealand rock band Elemeno P, from their album Love & Disrespect, refers to the cafe/restaurant/bar of the same name at 169 Karangahape Road. The current Verona building dates from 1923 and gets 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' irritating song.

Sung to the tune 'My Darling Clementine'

Broke my denture, broke my denture. Woe is me, what should I Do?

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

What's the address, what's the address? Tell me please, oh tell me DO!

Top of Queen Street, by the corner, and the number's Four - Nine - TWO.

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

In Film & Television

  • 1987 Walkshort: a short film directed by Bill Toepfer featuring Harry Sinclair and Don McGlashan
  • 1987 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 roof top on K Road to promote a new album and tour.
  • 1998 “I Can Change” by Trip to the Moon: Music Video showing several scene 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

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

Victorian to First War

  • 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 organized 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 was arguably the best confectioner in the city around the time of the First War.
  • 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 - 9-11 (now 42) K Road. Opened in 1913 and demolished in 1980.

Interwar Period

  • 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 & Wallpaper. 174-178 K Road. Started on K Road in the 1930s, no longer located there.
  • Winters Hairdressing - Famous salon from the 1920s, no longer on K road.
  • Flacksons - Ladies outfitters and Beauty Salon from the 1920s. Closed in the 1970s.
  • Kay's Beauty Salon - one of Auckland's best - relocated in the 1970s.
  • 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 & 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.
  • Woolworths. Part of a nationwide chain. Closed in the 1990s.
  • Whitcoulls. Nationwide chain of bookshops.
  • Leo O'Malley's - Menswear store - oldest store on K Road - it has been on its current site since 1935.
  • The Pearl Fish Shop - Decorated with fabulous painted glass panels - now closed
  • The White Fish Shop - 514 Karangahape Road - Decorated with fabulous painted glass panels - now closed.
  • Adams Bruce - 177 K Road. Famous bakery from 1929. Owned by Ernest Adams and Hugh Bruce. 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 1980s.
  • The Vogue Picture Theatre - 344 K Rd. Opened in 1924 possibly using a Vaudeville Theatre from 1911. Now a nightclub.

Post Second World War

  • Geddes Dental Renovations (1945)- 492 Queen Street, Cnr City Rd - famous radio commercial. Sold to Guardian Dental in 2002.
  • Peter Pan Ballroom & Cabaret - One of Auckland's main nightclubs from the 1940s to the 70s.
  • Para Rubber - 344 K Road. Occupied the former Vogue Cinema. 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. Closed in the 1980s.
  • Davis' Furnishers - Important furniture shop - Moved from 59 Pitt Street in the 1990s.
  • Beggs Menswear - Originally at 61 Pitt Street -still flourishing at 55 Pitt Street.
  • 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 still operating.
  • Pink Pussy Cat Strip Club - 510 K Road. Owned by Rainton Hastie. Closed in 2001, now an 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.
  • 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 & Pollack. 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.
  • The Auckland Doll Hospital - Toy Shop and Specialist repair service. Moved to Henderson in the 1970s.
  • The New Wine Bar - 177 K Road. Formerly the Dominion Wine Bar, the new business retained the murals by James Turkington. Now closed.
  • The Polynesian Ballroom. 251 K Road. Formerly the Newton Picture Palace. 1940s to the 1980s.
  • 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 relocates from Beach road to the corner of K’Rd & Hereford Street in 1978.
  • Verona - Bohemian Café - 165 Karangahape Road. Still flourishing.

1980s onwards

  • Real Groovy Records- started in the K road area at 492 Queen Street - still flourishing in the K Road area at 438 Queen Street.
  • The Sheraton Hotel - Opened in 1982 on Symonds Street - since 2005 the Langham Hotel, Auckland
  • Stage Artware - Ceramic studio specialising in hand-painted modernist china - moved from 90 Kroad in the 1990s.
  • St Kevin's Arcade 2nd Hand Bookshop. 183 Karangahape Road.
  • Chaplin's - First Gay Nightclub on Kroad - 119 K Road. circa 1988.
  • DTM (Don't Tell Mama) - 340 K Road. opened around 1991 - later became Staircase III. Now Studio.
  • Legends - Arguably Auckland's most famous Gay Bar in the 90s - 335 K Road. Opened 1991 and closed late 1990s.
  • Calibre - Nightclub in St Keven's Basement in the 1990s, now Whammy Bar. 183 Karangahape Road.
  • Brazil - 256 K Rd. Formerly Norman Ng's Fruit Shop - One of Auckland's most famous Coffee Houses from the 1990s - closed around 2006.
  • Alleyuha - Café in St Kevins Arcade. Still flourishing. 183 Karangahape Road.
  • Vada Hairdressing - Award winning salon at 59 Pitt Street.
  • Dick Smith - One of the oldest stores of the chain in the country.

Notable Residents

  • David Nathan (1816–1883) - merchant and Jewish community leader.
  • 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.
  • General Sir Duncan Cameron GCB (1808-1888) - Commander of the British Imperial Forces in New Zealand.
  • Major General Sir George Dean Pitt (1772–1851) - Lieutenant-Governor of New Ulster Province. Residence in Pitt Street.
  • Charles Partington - Windmill Owner and Health Food enthusiast. Residence on City Road.
  • Lewis Eady - Piano Importer and Retailer. Residence on Liverpool Street.
  • Samuel Vaile - Founder of the Real Estate Company. Residence on K Road opposite Cobden Street - demolished in the 1960s.
  • 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.
  • Philip Herapath - died 1892 aged 70. Architect, lived in Day Street.
  • Sarah Dingwall - died 6 Dec 1943 aged 96. Spinster, lived on Day Street. Sarah and her brother David Dingwall left money for Children's Homes.
  • Rev Dr Arthur Guyon Purchas (1821–1906). Anglican Clergyman, surgeon, musician. Residence on Pitt Street.
  • 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.
  • Robert De Montalk - Architect - father of poet Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk - house demolished 1970.
  • David Goldie (1842–1926) Mayor of Auckland - Kauri timber merchant. Residence on Pitt Street demolished in the 1970s.
  • Charles Goldie (1870–1947) - Noted 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 and killed on her way to Church by Edward Fuller who then killed himself. Her funeral was attended by seven thousand people. Buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery with her parents. (House in brisbane Street demolished for Motorway)
  • Dennis Gunn ( - 1920) - First person convicted using fingerprints. Lived in Somerset Place, off Howe St (rebuilt as pensioner housing)
  • Joseph Partington - 1851 - 1941 - Windmill Owner, son of Charles. Residence on City Road.
  • 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 - grew up in Newton Gully in the 1950s (house removed for Motorway)
  • John Banks (1946 - ) - Mayor of Auckland - from 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


Further reading

  • "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

  • 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)