Welcome to the free spirit of Auckland’s city centre. Edgy, diverse and authentic, Karangahape Road is now an uber-modern, smoothly functioning street.
Discover the colour, charm, music, lights, nightlife, shops and new design elements which celebrate the Māori adventurers who walked this ridgeline between harbours hundreds of years ago.
Dining along the footpath
Take a moment to sit back and enjoy a drink or delicious food at tables lining the widened footpaths of this magnificent city street. The old narrow footpaths were once jam-packed. Now there’s room to spread out and experience the Karangahape hustle and bustle.
Karangahape Road wouldn’t be true to its identity without a celebration of the rainbow community, embraced by this street throughout its evolution. Walk the two rainbow crossings and feel the inclusive vibe of an extraordinary neighbourhood.
Twist and Thief
Karangahape Road has thought-provoking public art on almost every corner. Street favourites Twist and Thief, both by Tanja McMillan and John Oz, were returned to the street after the works were completed. Small in stature, Thief is a delightful bronze sculpture of a boy and a piglet playing tug of war over a turnip. And Twist is a charming, cartoon-like sculpture of a young girl and her elephant, adding humour and a sense of playfulness to the street.
To find multiple artworks and soak up their backstories, visit our Auckland Council public art website aucklandpublicart.com and digitally geo-locate the art along the street.
Rain gardens, with an understory of native planting, are popping up around the city centre to help filter the city’s stormwater. Run-off flows through the rain garden soil and plant root systems which absorb and filter contaminants and then it flows to the surrounding ground, drains and streams before it reaches the sea.
Enjoy separated cycleways on both sides of the street. Whether you’re wearing lycra, a frock (think ‘Frocks on Bikes’), officewear or drag, anything goes. These cycleways are intended to be cruiseways not speedways, giving wheels time to slow down and stop for pedestrians, especially visitors who are new to the street layout. Cyclists have their own traffic lights and travel in one direction.
Pāua bus shelters
These are much more than bus shelters. Enjoy the layers of colour. They symbolise the pāua shell eyes of Māori carvings reimagined into a material adorning the structures.
Cast your eyes from the bus shelters to the Waitematā Harbour in the north and Maungawhau across to the southwest. It is part of the walking track used by Māori centuries ago to reach the Manukau Harbour. On the lower walls of the overbridge, you’ll see Tessa Harris (Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki) and her team have taken a utilitarian piece of infrastructure and woven it into a modern form of Tukutuku panel.
Steel engraved disks in the pavement
Underneath wooden street furniture you’ll see stainless-steel circular inlays in the paving. Just as moonlight reflected in the shells enabling Māori travellers to see the ancient pathway at night, the silver disks reflect the changing colours and patterns of light in the street. On big occasions, new street lighting synchronises with the harbour bridge and other city landmarks, in an expanding network of light.
It’s not visible, but you might also stop and imagine what’s new underground as you walk this famous street. New ducting has been installed for future technology capacity, stormwater systems have been improved below the surface, and a whole new underground station – Karangahape Station – is taking shape.
Karangahape is becoming a pedestrian-priority area anchored by two entrances to this City Rail Link station, tipped to bring an estimated 60,000 passengers to the area every day once it opens. Read how it all fits together here.
For tips on what’s on, Karangahape Road Business Association has it covered. Explore the vast menu of places to eat and drink here, and to shop here.
The enhancement of Karangahape Road has been delivered by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport. Find out about the next big development – the midtown regeneration - at ProgressAKL.co.nz/Midtown