Karangahape Rd, on a sunny Sunday morning, has the look of a good time girl who's gone to bed in her makeup. Perhaps it's just the feeling that closed doors and tightly curtained upstairs windows hide secrets.
But, for my friends and I, all past the age when Saturday night is the only night of the week, K'Rd is the start of a walk I have been planning for some time. Parking in the side streets at the Symonds St end (plenty of room and free on Sunday) we start with a brief look at Symonds St Cemetery, Auckland's oldest official burial ground. It contains the grave of William Hobson, the co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi and, on this morning anyway, a few late-night refugees sleeping under the still leafy oak trees. We turn west down K'Rd towards St Kevin's Arcade.
The cool alternative vibe of this 1920s' arcade hasn't changed much from my student days, but the mesmerising images and whacky colour combinations on the stairway is an improvement on the ugly graffiti I remember. We wend our way down to Myers Park, where once again I marvel at why such a lovely space in the heart of the city is so under-used.
Huge Phoenix palms line the central path and I glance up fondly at Myers Park Kindergarten.
At the southern end we cross Mayoral Dr and skirt the front of the 1960s Bledisloe Building. Nearby, Aotea Square is as empty as a broken heart and about as cold. It was too nippy to do more than glance at the 7m-high Selwyn Muru-carved waharoa (gateway) on our way to Albert Park. A quick trot around its perimeter takes us past the slumbering silence of the university and the beauty of the new Art Gallery building. Several of us are coming back later to see the Degas to Dali exhibition.
Down Wellesley St and up and over the hill to Freemans Bay, zigzagging until we reach Western Park's eastern-most entrance in Howe St. Up the path that runs below Auckland Girls' Grammar, we reach Ponsonby Rd and the fallen buildings sculptures, just as a rainbow touches Grey Lynn. Our walking time is up and we turn left and left again into K'Rd. Ten minutes later we're at Alleluya Cafe, enjoying its position at the Myers Park end of St Kevin's Arcade.
* A stroll through this part of Auckland will take about two hours and covering approximately 5km. It's easy and mainly pushchair friendly (with a few steps).
* Alleluya Cafe: St Kevins Arcade, 183 Karangahape Rd.
* Symonds St Cemetery: cnr Karangahape Rd and Symonds St.
* Bledisloe Building: 24 Wellesley St West.