As the thick haze of smoke that has covered parts of the city centre lifts, it shows off a different kind of Auckland - a deserted one.

The streets in and around the Sky Tower are usually filled with the hustle and bustle of an everyday crowd - people walking, cars and buses weaving in and out of the busy roads and restaurants buzzing.

On this Wednesday afternoon, however, the shops and restaurants are mostly closed. Only a few pedestrians are walking around the city and traffic is non-existent.

The usually busy Victoria St West is nearly deserted as the fire on Hobson St raged on. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao
The usually busy Victoria St West is nearly deserted as the fire on Hobson St raged on. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao

A police officer calls out to someone standing at bus stop inside a cordon outside the Sky Tower: "No buses are going to stop there today''.

Advertisement

Hobson St, the main arterial route to motorways to west and south of the city, is still busy but because of fire trucks and firefighters lined down the road.

Federal St - usually abuzz with people at some of SkyCity's top restaurants and eateries - is now blocked off with police officers wearing gas masks.

Many shops and stores around Victoria St West, Albert St, Federal St and Hobson St have been closed since the fire. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao
Many shops and stores around Victoria St West, Albert St, Federal St and Hobson St have been closed since the fire. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao

The Da Vinci Italian Restaurant on Albert St has signs on its windows telling would-be customers: "Sorry, we are closed due to smoke''. The sign does, however, promise the restaurant will be open by 5.30pm.

Karam Ayasrah who manages the convenience store directly opposite the Sky Tower is one of the few shopkeepers who decided to stick it out. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao
Karam Ayasrah who manages the convenience store directly opposite the Sky Tower is one of the few shopkeepers who decided to stick it out. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao

Karam Ayasrah is one of the shopkeepers who has decided to stick it out, despite the shop door being shut because of smoke pouring down the main road outside still.

He is the manager of the 77 Convenience Store on the corner of Victoria St West and Federal St - directly opposite the Sky Tower.

On a normal day, the shop has up to 300 customers walk through its doors. Today however, it was probably better off closed.

"Nobody,'' he says matter-of-factly.

"We've lost a lot of money''.

Advertisement

The cafes and restaurants around their shop, the pharmacy and other stores on the other side are all closed. By about 3pm, he was about to do the same.

"I'm only open now for a delivery that's coming at 5pm. Nobody's going to come because of the fire - everything's closed''.

A man with a gold watch and bracelets on his wrists walks up to police officers parked outside Sky City on the other side, near St Matthew's-In-The-City church.

"Is the casino open yet?''

He seems astounded when told it looks like the casino will remain closed still because of the fire just next door.

"Okay, I'll come back tomorrow''.