Seven Hidden Gems on Karangahape Road – For a Backpackers Budget

Karangahape Road is vibrant with an eclectic mix of people and a grungy, artistic feel of a metropolitan area. Here are seven gems to explore!

1. St Kevins Arcade: underground bars

Wine Cellar: cool hidden bar, found under Kevin’s Arcade that hosts under the radar gigs. Cheap glasses of wine, nibbly foods and you can order in pizza from Sal’s. Next door you will find Whammy Bar (you can also access this through a cool little walkway between the bars) that has more of a nightclub and dance atmosphere.

2. Everybody Eats: St Kevins Arcade, 183 Karangahape Road 

6-8pm every Monday Gemmayze St restaurant presents a three course meal created from fresh produce that is ever so slightly limp and donations from the prior week. The kitchen is run by volunteers, including chefs from renowned names such as Mudbrick and Bird on Wire. Old produce infused with creativity and seasoned with selflessness.

Payment is based on koha or donation based on ‘how you feel’ – if you can afford to pay, then offer a donation, usually between $10-$20, if you can’t, then its a free meal! The restaurant attracts an array of people that is mostly an 80/20 split of homeless people and those that can afford to pay.

3. Lightpath & the Nelson Street Cycleway

Free. Hot pink walkway with an LED mood lighting system that constantly changes. Best walked at night as the lights are super pretty.

4. Thrift shopping

Karangahape road is renowned for it’s vintage clothing deals – clear out your backpack or riffle through an array of clothing and gear yourself up for your trip.

Redcross Shop (super cheap) – 191 Karangahape Rd.
Paperbag Princess (great for denim and woollens) – 202 Karangahape Rd.
The White Elephant (slightly more expensive) – 246 Karangahape Rd.

Inside St Kevins Arcade there is a small, cluttered and absolutely fantastic secondhand book shop that offers an assortment of novels and comics. 

5. Lim Chhour: 184 Karangahape Road 

Walk through the foodcourt and hidden at the back you will find an Asian supermarket. This is great value for money and is perfect for finding curry spices, pastes, noodles, foreign condiments and cheap albeit slightly subpar fresh produce. Recommend going here for a curry paste, courgettes and mushrooms.

6. Mercury Lane Plaza: 23-31 Mercury Lane

Do not be deterred by the semi-working lights and historical looking paint job – the food is cheap but good quality. Inside you will find a ‘Japanese Cuisine’ sushi bar that offers little rolls of joy that are locally known as the best takeaway sushi in Auckland. I recommend the chicken and avocado rolls and then coating it in mayonnaise and sesame seeds. 

7. Sri Pinang: 356 Karangahape Road 

Malaysian food is seriously underrated, and if someone is going to do it well, it’s a Malaysian woman. Angie has been in the game for over twenty years and it’s delicious. Grab your buddy, get in early (it gets full very quickly) and share a bottle of pinot noir with some gado gado vegetables and beef rendang. BYO restaurant – average $20-25 p/head.

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