Drinking and nightlife in North Island

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Matakana

    Sawmill Brewery

    Relax with a tasting rack of brews amid the rustic but hip decor, and order widely from the share-plates menu. It's all good, but we're partial to the citrusy Double IPA with goat, hummus and cumin flatbreads. Regular seasonal beers make Sawmill one of NZ's best breweries. Look for the hop bines out front and you're in the right place.

  • Nightlife in Great Barrier Island

    Currach Irish Pub

    This excellent pub offers island-brewed craft beer, seafood, steak and burgers, and is GB's main social centre. Wood-fired pizzas are another highlight, and there are regular live gigs with a Gaelic and folky bent. Sunday quiz night is loads of fun, and a separate room features rotating exhibitions from local artists, all of it for sale.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Hastings & Around

    GodsOwn Brewery

    This low-key, earthy microbrewery 22km east of Hastings operates out of a safari tent and a 1973 caravan. Bucolic aromas, hop vines, laid-back tunes, outdoor tables, a smouldering fire pit...it's a uniquely NZ scene. Trad European beers like French biere de garde and German pilsner emerge from the taps. Spent brewing grains are used in zesty wood-fired flatbreads ($10 to $22).

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Ponsonby & Karangahape Rd

    Madame George

    Two patron saints of cool – Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando – look down in this compact space. Shoot the breeze with the friendly bar staff over a craft beer or Auckland's best cocktails, or grab a shared table out front and watch the passing theatre of K Rd. It's just like hanging at your hippest mate's place.

  • Nightlife in City Centre & Britomart

    La Fuente

    Auckland's only bar specialising in the potent Mexican spirit mezcal, La Fuente (The Fountain) is also a fine spot to partner an excellent selection of wine and craft beer with Latin American–inspired snacks, including ceviche and cheese-and-jalapeño croquettes. The knowledgeable bartenders will guide you through more than 20 different mezcals from the Mexican region of Oaxaca.

  • Nightlife in Ponsonby & Karangahape Rd

    Lovebucket

    Lovebucket is a more sophisticated alternative to K Rd's often youthful after-dark vibe. Courtesy of shared ownership with the Hallertau Brewery in West Auckland, Lovebucket's craft-beer selection is one of Auckland's best – including barrel-aged and sour beers. Quirky cocktails and a well-informed wine list join interesting bar snacks such as cheeses, charcuterie and gourmet toasted sandwiches.

  • Nightlife in Ponsonby & Karangahape Rd

    Bar Celeste

    Inspired by the 'neo bistro' movement of Paris, Bar Celeste blurs the line between intimate bar and innovative restaurant. Natural wines are regularly featured, there's usually a food-friendly sour beer on the taps, and the menu of seasonal small plates could include sweetbreads, crudo trevally or grilled octopus. Don't miss the superb sourdough bread from K Rd neighbours, Fort Greene.

  • Nightlife in Kingsland & Mt Eden

    Garage Project Cellar Door

    Discover some of NZ's most innovative craft beers at the Auckland outpost of Wellington's Garage Project. Due to the cellar door's licence, beers are served in six-brew tasting trays ($20), and there are always 12 different beers on tap. GP's full range of beers and wild fermented wines are available to take away, and bar snacks include cheese and kimchi toasted sandwiches.

  • Nightlife in City Centre & Britomart

    Little Culprit

    Some of Auckland's most interesting cocktails feature at this stylish bar, and the owners' background in restaurants also shines through. Graze on a platter of cheese and charcuterie or indulge in a savoury waffle with duck-liver parfait. People-watch at pavement level or adjourn to the more intimate lower lounge downstairs. There's a good selection of natural wines too.

  • Nightlife in Hamilton

    Craft

    Fifteen rotating taps of amber goodness flow at Craft, plenty to keep the city’s craft-beer buffs coming back. Brews from around NZ make a regular appearance, with occasional surprising additions from international cult breweries. Bar snacks, including braised lamb tacos, are a definite cut above. Pop in for 'Free Beer Thursdays', a popular buy-two, get-one-free deal.

  • Nightlife in Ponsonby & Karangahape Rd

    Deadshot

    Featuring some of Auckland's most experienced bartenders, Deadshot – cowboy parlance for 'strong booze' – is where you can sample the city's cocktail A-game. With bar stools, brick walls, and cosy and intimate booths, there's also a touch of the Wild West in the decor, but it's still a thoroughly cosmopolitan drinking hole. Expect classic cocktails with a twist.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Wellington

    Golding's Free Dive

    Hidden down a busy little back alley near Cuba St, gloriously garish Golding's is a bijou craft-beer bar with far too many merits to mention. We’ll single out ex-casino swivel chairs, a nice wine list, a ravishing Reuben sandwich, and pizza from Pizza Pomodoro next door. Blues, Zappa and Bowie conspire across the airways.

  • Nightlife in Ponsonby & Karangahape Rd

    Brothers Beer

    This beer bar combines quirky decor with 18 taps crammed with Brothers' own brews and guest beers from NZ and further afield. Hundreds more bottled beers are chilling in the fridges, and bar food includes pizza. There are occasional movie and comedy nights, and beers are available to take away. The adjacent City Works Depot has other good eating options.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Wellington

    El Culo Del Mundo

    If Charles Bukowski was gasping for a drink in Wellington, this is where he'd come – an authentic, atmospheric US-style bar serving great cocktails, fried-chicken tacos and cold beer in 16 taps. If you're wondering what the name means, it has something to do with the planet's anatomy (hilarious). Look for the literal red neon 'BAR' sign above the door.

  • Nightlife in Martinborough

    Mesita Wine Bar

    Blink and you'll miss little Mesito, a tiny side-street wine bar. But follow the vintage rock and you'll soon find the door. Inside are excellent wines (mostly local with some far-flung stars), craft beers, killer cocktails and Mexican-inspired nibbles. Tasting flights are a good way to sample the vineyards that got away (four pinot noirs $28).

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in New Plymouth

    Shining Peak Brewing

    Inside an old electronics warehouse on an otherwise dull stretch of Gill St, stouts, IPAs, APAs and a new beer monthly bubble away in 10 huge stainless-steel vats. New-wave '80s tunes wail as craft-beer fans sip and munch on meaty offerings such as tacos, ribs and pork belly (small/large plates from $12/20). Sunny courtyard and kids' food, too.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Napier

    Monica Loves

    Big-city laneway style comes to Napier at this bar tucked away off Tennyson St. Look for the big neon sign proclaiming 'Who shot the barman?' and you're in the right place for cool cocktails, regular surprises in the beer taps and a Hawke's Bay–centric wine list. We love the black wine barrels and Pollock-goes-graffiti mural too, Monica.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Auckland

    Freida Margolis

    Formerly a butcher's – look for the Westlynn Organic Meats sign – this corner location is now a great little neighbourhood bar with a backstreets Bogotá ambience. Loyal locals sit outside with their well-behaved dogs, supping on sangria, wine and craft beer, and enjoying eclectic sounds from the owner's big vinyl collection.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Hahei

    Pour House

    Home base for the Coromandel Brewing Company, this pub and bistro regularly features about five of its own beers in a modern ambience. Hearty meat and seafood mains combine with decent pizzas in the beer garden. Team the Moroccan pizza with the Hahei Doctor American Pale Ale. Keep an eye out for occasional seasonal beers too.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Palmerston North

    Brew Union

    This impressively converted warehouse is the best spot for a drink in town. Stretching across an entire city block, the bar has 21 beers on tap and 45 gins on the shelf. Come for a drink (try the King Street pilsner), and stay for wood-fired pizza ($13 to $25). Live vinyl-spinners on Fridays and guitar-twangers on Saturdays.