K’Road in Auckland
For the last two evenings I have had the pleasure of frequenting a wonderfully diverse part of Auckland’s Central Business District, K’Road (Karangahape Road). Its name appears to come from the Maori “Calling on Hape.” Hape was an important chief of the Maorii, and this might have been the path to visit him. Alternately, it may mean “Winding Path of Human Activity,” and that certainly fits K’Rd as we find it today.
This 1 km stretch of curving road is packed with every kind of shop, restaurant, bar, you-name-it. Cuisines vary from a wonderful Crêperie where we had dinner last night (the whole crew is from La Belle France), to Mexican, Moroccan, Lebanese, Thai, Chinese, Turkish, great Kabab placxes (in one of which we had a feast the night before), Italian, and anything else you might want, Bars and clubs of all flavors abound, and the general atmosphere is welcoming and friendly.
Most major cities have a district like this, and I suppose the old term for this was Bohemian, denoting unconventional, devoted to the arts.” I am not sure how the term for the German area around Munich (and in the old days, designating the Czechs too) became associated with Beatniks and their like, but it did.
For New York, think The Village. For San Francisco, the Haight, Valencia, Columbus Ave,…and more. For L.A., perhaps Melrose and Venice Beach. For Phoenix, well…. Tempe’s Mill Avenue is kind of a yuppified stand-in (more may developed since I lived there…Phoenicians, sound off!).
Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and many other Canadian cities have their Bohemian districts (Canadians, please let us know), and certainly La Rive Gauche (the Left Bank) in Paris is perhaps the quintessential archetype of this type of district.
In fine, if you are a major Western Civilization City, ya gotta have one! Its where things are usually inexpensive and creative. Freedom of expression is the byword, and diversity is its strength. It keeps the Urban landscape vibrant, and (I am from the 60s), funky.
K’Rd is all of the above. There are many fascinating neighborhoods in Auckland, including a vibrant Central Business District, diverse suburbs with every kind of store front you can think of, all set down here is Paradise. Our cab drivers have shown us all kinds of neighborhoods in our short time here.
We understand why people love this place. I know it has its share of trouble like anywhere else on the Planet, but I have yet to meet anyone on the street or in establishments who didn’t look happy, There are car crashes (three on the news this morning) and all the other ills of human life, but I get the impression that overall, New Zealand is a happy and peaceful place.
In the days to come, I will learn more about how the Maoris are doing, and how Christchurch is digging out of its disastrous earthquakes. I’ll keep you apprised. So far, something has struck me very forcefully. We’ve been through a number of neighborhoods of all economic classes, and I have yet to see anyone sleeping on the street in this city of a million (SF is only 700,000 and our Homeless Brothers and Sisters are ubiquitous). No pan-handlers either.
To be sure, on K’Rd later at night, there are people who have had too much to drink (or too much of something!), but they are making their way somewhere. There are tweakers and others, but you will find them anywhere.
I do not know how this has come about. I will ask around, as we need to take care of so many people back home who need assistance. If anyone has any reflections, please comment here.
We are getting ready for the next stage, sailing around the magnificent islands of the Northland of NZ. More soon!
— Steven Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant, Member and Customer Service