People come from all over the world to experience Queenstown’s jaw-dropping scenery and host of adventurous activities. From traditional pubs with live music to quirky hole-in-the-wall establishments, this buzz is reflected in Queenstown’s nightlife as well. Whether you’re looking for a classy establishment for date night or a lively spot to dance the night away, here’s our guide to the best bars in Queenstown.
Nest Bar & Kitchen
If you're after chilled vibes and stunning views, our pick for a cosy aperitivo hour goes to Nest Bar & Kitchen. Settle yourself into a velvet lounge seat next to one of several fireplaces and peruse the menu for your poison of choice. Our pick goes to the Reid & Reid Barrel Aged Gin with orange and cinnamon, boasting a subtle spiced oak flavour. If you’re after a show-stopper, promptly order a smoky old fashioned starring 10YO Laphroaig whisky. Get your ‘Gram ready—the cocktail literally arrives smoking beneath a glass dome.
If you’re looking for something to do in Queenstown at night, look no further than Yonder. This all-hours establishment is buzzing from morning till night. Start with dinner—their experimental kitchen caters to all dietary requirements without compromising on flavour. With a menu inspired by all their favourite dishes from their travels, you’ll want to sample everything. Linger over drinks and live music, that’ll have you dancing until the wee hours of the morning.
Eichardt’s Bar has been a Queenstown institution since it opened in 1867. With a warm, inviting atmosphere, it’s an excellent spot to begin your evening. The space is decidedly elegant with its comfortable sofas and a roaring fireplace, making it the ultimate winter destination. The only bar in Queenstown to serve Champagne Bollinger by the glass, there’s a certain sophistication that comes with securing a spot to marvel at the breathtaking views. Cocktails here are nothing short of amazing. We recommend the Lady Violette, which consists of gin infused with lavender, Liqueur de Violette, Cointreau, earl grey-infused syrup, lemon juice and egg white as well as the lychee and rose petal martini. The spiced espresso martini is also the perfect pick me up. With a menu that stretches from breakfast until late into the night, you can count on consistently delicious and inspiring dishes. Eichardt’s exudes style and warmth, making it a must do for locals and visitors alike.
The World Bar
Home of the teapot, The World Bar is a popular spot for afternoon drinks, good honest food, craft beer and all kinds of quirky events. First established in 1996, they’ve finally reopened after a devastating fire in 2013. Today’s World Bar of today is quite different from its formerly mischievous self. It’s a local favourite for a whole host of events, from film premieres to banging parties and interesting musical talent. The teapots are still as good as ever, as are the cleverly named cocktails. Rhubarb Custard, which features vanilla vodka, rhubarb liqueur, apple juice and rhubarb bitters is refreshing and Hendricks Lamar with gin, cucumber, basil syrup and lemon is our go-to. The indulgent and extensive food menu is equally appealing. Try the mac and cheese balls, crusted cauliflower bites to start and the chicken and waffles or fish tacos also go down a treat. Worlds away from its former self, the new and improved World Bar is well worth a visit.
Ballarat Trading Company
Queenstown’s original gastropub, stepping into The Ballarat Trading Company is like stepping back in time. Inspired by an 1850's trading emporium, the colourful space is certainly eclectic. Pile into a cosy booth, sit outside in the courtyard or along the Queenstown mall and prepare for a relaxed evening out. The simple menu is filled with traditional favourites like crispy calamari and butternut pumpkin soup, complemented by a selection of Central Otago's finest wines. Ballarat also caters for a wide range of events, from meetings to private functions and special occasions.
Rhino’s Ski Shack
Hidden away in a basement off Queenstown Mall and Cow Lane, Rhino’s Ski Shack is a local secret. Head downstairs for a truly authentic après ski experience (with a Kiwi twist, of course). The handcrafted fit out in this alpine-themed bar uses local materials including logs and vintage skis paired with street art and funky music. By day, Rhino’s is a great place to socialise and unwind. It’s a skier’s haven, serving cheap beers. By night, it turns into a hip hop club with DJs spinning the best beats in town.
Minus 5º Ice Bar
If you’re going to visit an ice bar, you might as well do it in New Zealand’s favourite ski town. Ice bars have taken off all over the world and Minus 5º is literally Queenstown's coolest experience. It’s an igloo-style bar where everything from the walls to furniture and cocktail glasses has been intricately hand-carved from over 18 tonnes of crystal clear ice. Jackets, gloves and even warm footwear is provided as part of the experience, so there's no need to worry about catching a chill. Book ahead and enjoy after work drinks, a family outing (it’s $75 for entry, two mocktails and two cocktails) or even organise your next function. Open year-round, Minus 5º is a winter wonderland and one to add to your bucket list.
Situated on Lake Wakatipu’s waterfront, in the famous Steamer Wharf, you’ll find Little Blackwood. A firm local favourite, the modern bar and eatery has some of the most incredible views in town. After an adventure-packed day, grab a drink on the heated outdoor deck or relax inside by the fireplace. Order one of their creatively crafted cocktails. From the cool and refreshing Japanese Garden, made with sake, Pimms, lychee liqueur, fresh cucumber, mint and ginger beer to the sour Spice Paloma made with tequila, chilli ginger, agave nectar, grapefruit juice, mint and lime. During the cooler months, sip on a mulled wine or an Amaretto Hot Toddy. On the menu, you’ll find a selection of locally crafted artisan meat and cheese platters featuring Otago honeycomb, freshly picked grapes, kalamata olives, sundried tomato pesto and babaganoush. The pizza menu is equally delicious, our favourite is the Bianco with roast mushrooms, garlic confit and mascarpone cheese on an olive oil base.
1876 Bar and Restaurant
1876 has become an enduring favourite in Queenstown with its outdoor deck and nightly entertainment. Converted from an original courthouse, 1876 is an iconic part of Queenstown’s history and an essential addition to any Queenstown best bar list. Order a Boundary Road tap beer or house wine. Spirits here are good value at $5 all day long. For food, their menu is divided into starters, sharers, salads, burgers and mains. The grilled halloumi and spiced cauliflower bites are both delicious as are the burgers (beef, chicken and falafel). The mains are classic pub favourites like fish and chips and sirloin steak. 1876 is available for hire, ideal for functions of all sizes. Stop by this gorgeous historic building and you might just find yourself staying awhile.
Habana Boutique Rum Bar
Boasting a collection of over 70 rums, Habana is bringing a taste of Cuba to Queenstown. The small, funky bar is situated on Searle Lane, offering sophisticated respite from the wilder party bars in town. Come here for great music and delicious drinks—in fact, Habana is home to the best mojitos in Queenstown. Their daiquiris are also a hit with locals as are their rum flights, essential in determining which variety will become your new fave. If you’re a rum drinker, Habana is a stylish hole-in-the-wall that you need to visit in Queenstown.
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Image Credit: Nest Bar & Kitchen, Little Blackwood, Rhino's Ski Shack, The World Bar, Yonder