If there was one word to describe the nightlife in New Zealand it would be ‘relaxed’. They’re not big on the superclubs or huge raves you night find elsewhere, but they are big on great bars, cosy clubs and relaxed restaurants-cum-dancefloors.
You’ll find the coolest bars and restaurants in Auckland in the Brittomart Precinct. You’ll look out over the waterfront from the converted old warehouses and packing sheds where you’re sure to be partying until the sun goes down.
Next to this you’ll find the Viaduct where the marina is lined with bars and restaurants, and ridiculously over the top super yachts. Take a short walk over the Te Whero bridge and you’re right in the centre of the North Wharf – another great spot if you like to start your nightlife off with a bit of belly-lining food.
Other Auckland hot spots include Ponsonby, just up from the waterfront, and Karangahape Road (known among the cool kids as K’ Road). This is where the alternative crowd hang out, and you’re sure to have a random, if not brilliant, night out.
There are more 20-34 year olds in Wellington than anywhere else in New Zealand so you can expect a good night out here. There are lots of places to investigate from Courtenay Place to Willis Street, Lambton Quay and Queen’s Wharf. There are tens of late-night cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs within an easily walkable distance. The biggest parties are undoubtedly at the weekend, but there’ll always be a few hundred people up for some live music and dancing any day of the week.
Christchurch nightlife centres around the suburbs of Merivaleand Ferrymead. Aikmans in Merivale has a brilliant courtyard with a fireplace and leather sofas – perfect for watching the night sky. Next door you’ll find JDV with a great little Martini bar that peaks on a Thursday night. Nightlife in Merivale is centred around clubby-style bars and hot people hooking up.
In Ferrymead you’ll enjoy Ferry Speight’s Ale House – especially if you’re into sports as they have big screen TVs and plenty of brews on the bar. The party then moves on to Winnie Bagoes down the road until the early hours.
Dunedin, Queenstown and Taupo are the best small towns to test out the New Zealand nightlife. Dunedin is the quintessential kiwi university town and having a good time when the sun goes down is the priority. Most of the action centres around Octagon in the heart of the CBD where you’ll find everything you need for a top night out.
Queenstown has the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in New Zealand – check out the delights of Searle Lane before you commit to anywhere else though.
As for Taupo Caboose Lodge is a great choice and right on the lake, and Mulligan’s Pub is a top choice for backpacker happy hour drinks. If you’re a beer lover, don’t leave without sampling the delights of the Crafty Trout Brewing Company either.