Since the construction of the Central Motorway Junction in 1965–75, Newton has been divided into two parts, and as a result, lost much of its size and coherence. The northern part is centred on Karangahape Road, and the southern part on Newton Road and upper Symonds Street. Both Karangahape and Newton Roads intersect with Symonds Street to the east. Newton Road joins the Great North/Ponsonby and Karangahape Road intersection to the west.
At the southern end of Symonds Street are the Symonds Street Shops. Here Upper Symonds Street has two major intersections with other arterial roads: Newton Road and Khyber Pass Road, and Mt Eden Road and New North Road.
Symonds Street is named after Captain William Cornwallis Symonds (1810–41), an officer of the 96th Regiment of Foot of the British Army. He came to New Zealand in the early 1830s as agent of the Waitemata and Manukau Land Company and was instrumental in the founding of Auckland and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. He was one of Governor William Hobson's closest and most effective officials and was one of the first six Police Magistrates in New Zealand as well as Chief Magistrate of Auckland and Deputy Surveyor of New Zealand. During 1841 Symonds accompanied the naturalist Ernst Dieffenbach in his survey of the North Island. Capt Symonds died on 23 November 1841 in a boating accident on the Manukau Harbour. Following his death his brother John Jermyn Symonds continued to live in the colony; Symonds Street in Onehunga is named after John Jermyn Symonds.
Karangahape Road takes its name from the ridge it stands on - known in pre-European times as Te Ara o Karangahape - The Path of Karangahape - the name possibly indicates the route that was taken to visit an eminent Chief (or Mythical entity) called Hape who lived on the shores of the Manukau Harbour to the south west. From about 1900 to the early 1960s K' Road was Auckland's busiest shopping street with a large range of clothing and shoe shops along with several department stores. During the middle of the 20th century Karangahape Road (and to a lesser extent the adjacent Upper Symonds Street shops) was a destination shopping centre, especially busy on late nights due to the presence of cinemas.
In the 19th century Newton was the name given to a slightly different area - stretching from what is now called Surrey Crescent to Eden Terrace. References to Newton can therefore describe different areas at different times in the past; the Newton Branch of the ASB for example was built in the 1880s at the Karangahape Road end of Ponsonby Road.