From strip clubs to bou­tiques


Men­tion Karanga­hape Rd to al­most any­one in New Zealand and they’ll prob­a­bly know some­thing about it.

They might know the in­fa­mous strip clubs and gay bars or the bou­tique shops and edgy artists.

How­ever, over the decades K’ Rd has changed dra­mat­i­cally.

To­day, K’ Rd is trans­form­ing to what some would say is a new Pon­sonby, with apart­ment build­ings and up­mar­ket eater­ies open­ing up.

Ed­ward Ben­nett is the her­itage ad­vi­sor for the Karanga­hape Road Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion and has seen the road breathe new life as the years rolled on.

‘‘It used to be the ma­jor shop­ping street for Auck­land.’’

There was a gen­eral ex­o­dus from the cen­tre of town af­ter the 1960s and 70s, Ben­nett says.

That was when the red light district moved in and gave K’ Rd a lurid rep­u­ta­tion, Ben­nett says.

‘‘There’s two dif­fer­ent worlds and in a lot of ways they don’t over­lap.

‘‘There’s never been more than 12 adult busi­nesses and we deal with [more than] 600 busi­nesses in this area.’’

He first en­coun­tered K’ Rd in the 70s when there were a lot of Pa­cific Island shops.

‘‘The colour­ful street from the 70s and 80s has gone and now we have the first wave of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion com­plain­ing about the sec­ond wave,’’ Ben­nett says.

Roy Ward is the owner and op­er­a­tor of sec­ond-hand book­shop The Green Dol­phin in St Kevin’s Ar­cade.

He has seen an in­creas­ing ex­o­dus of the smaller shops move out of the ar­cade due to the rent in­creases.

‘‘With the new apart­ments and the rail­way sta­tion there will be a dif­fer­ent mix of peo­ple and rent will go up but the al­ter­na­tive is empty shops,’’ Ward says.

‘‘I think it’s in a re­ally good place now and it’s more vi­brant than it has been for a long time.’’

The rein­tro­duc­tion of a lot of peo­ple liv­ing on or off K’ Rd has been a main fac­tor in the gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of the street, Ben­nett says.

‘‘You could ar­gue the street is re­turn­ing to its white mid­dle class sta­tus it re­tained for al­most a cen­tury from the 1880s to the 1960s.’’

How­ever Ben­nett doesn’t think it will ever lose its edgy and bo­hemian vibe.

‘‘Cer­tain things will main­tain their edge such as the gay night­clubs, but whether they stay here or move some­where else due to rent ris­ing.’’


Karanga­hape Rd used to be a main shop­ping des­ti­na­tion for many Auck­lan­ders.

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