In New Zealand, sport is basically a religion, and meeting your mates to share a drink and yell sports-themed profanities is a rite of passage. And when you can’t make it to a game, there’s no better way to experience nail-biting sport than with a drink in your hand at a local sports bar. Walls covered in flat-screens and all the emotions of like-minded fanatics and sworn enemies will make it a night to remember. Pair all that with pub grub and cold beer and you’re in for one huge dose of sports. Whether it’s rugby, UFC or the English Premier League that tickles your fancy, you can now get your fix all year round, regardless of where the game is played.
Here are the best sports bars Auckland has to offer—now there’s no excuse to miss a major play.
Set in an early 20th-century building, The Dominion stands tall on, well, you guessed it—Dominion Road. This local is close to Eden Park and a firm fave for pre and post drinks. There’s plenty of room (including outdoor space for those of you who need your “fresh air”). If you’re catching an early game, a Dominion gourmet breakfast is a must. After a shareable meal? There are plenty of pizza options, plus an entire grill menu with a selection of meats and sauces. The drinks list is packed with options, and with 11 tap beers and two tap ciders, this may just be the watering hole of all watering holes.
The Clare Inn
Five minutes up the road from Auckland’s sport sanctuary, Eden Park, The Clare Inn is perfect for a pre or post-match drink. In true Irish fashion, the pub features a stone and wood interior of curved doorways, timber floors and wall furnishings, hefty chairs and of course, a roaring fireplace. Claiming to serve “the best Guinness pint in all of Auckland” this gem also features a food menu filled with hearty pie flavours, meaty dishes like the roasted lamb shoulder rack and potatoes on top of potatoes. Next time there’s a game featuring the Irish, you know where to go for a taste of that Emerald Isle hospitality.
Located in an 1860s heritage building, The Cav is one of Auckland’s oldest drinking establishments. The story even goes that The Cav is the very place where Auckland Rugby League was born in 1910. Since then, the pub has seen its share of sports games and accommodated many a fan. Shortening its name from The Cavalier Tavern to The Cav and getting a makeover in 2014, The Cav now features a contemporary design with light fixtures, funky tiles, and huge windows, bathing the room in light. There’s a range of menus, from bar snacks and light feeds to more substantial meals and mouth-watering desserts. More importantly, their extensive craft beer selection will ensure you keep well hydrated during those nerve-wracking time-on moments.
Britomart Country Club
Built in 2011 to accommodate all the fanatics brought to Auckland by the Rugby World Cup, BCC has become a staple on the Auckland sports bar scene. This city gem is seriously massive, with enough space to accommodate an entire football stadium (well, almost) and can get rowdy once it fills with a crowd of supporters. BCC broadcasts everything from the NBA Playoffs to the Origin and of course, our beloved rugby. It has an open plan design, industrial interior and even a mini golf pitch. Woodfired pizza, burgers, and a variety of platters will keep you cheering all night, and you can wash it all down with cold beer and cocktail jugs. What more could you want?
Located in the seaside village of Devonport, The Patriot is a local favourite. A two-story building with outdoor seating, cobblestone courtyard out the back and a deck up the top, this is an old English-style pub televising all major sporting events. It emphasises sit-down meals rather than the upright chaos of a regular sports bar. Big on pies and steak, the menu also features a huge selection of seafood, salads and brunch options. There are 13 tap beers and ciders to quench your thirst and even darts and a pool room for those halftime breaks.
Parnell’s The Paddington has a medieval-meets-industrial vibe with wooden pillars, tiled walls, numerous light fixtures and a warm ambiance. Broadcasting everything from rugby and soccer to UFC, their bartenders get up seriously early to accommodate all sorts of sport-crazed fanatics. Big on the English Premier League, The Paddington is known as a Chelsea supporter hang-out, so if you’re a fan of the blue lions this is the place for you. The menu mainly focuses on the classics: think Eggs Benedict, Caesar salad, steak and burgers. The drinks list is heavy on the spirits, featuring 20 Scottish whiskeys and more than 10 American whiskeys, a wide range of other spirits and of course, plenty of tap beer.
The Kingslander has three projectors and six flat screen TVs to give you that sports fix. Down the road from Eden Park, it’s perfect for pre-drinks or post-game celebrations. Super cosy and inviting, The Kingslander has a transitional design with a cool brick wall interior, contemporary paintings and funky retro furniture. On top of delicious stone-grill and burger options, there's also a range of pizzas and grazing platters—perfect for sharing with the squad. There are also darts and a pool table on offer, in case the broadcast has you feeling super competitive.
Located on the Auckland viaduct, The Fox has been operating for 15 years. In that time it’s built a reputation as one of Auckland’s top sport bars. Featuring beautiful stone-clad walls, polished wooden floors and a courtyard opening to stunning views of the harbour, this is a top-notch establishment broadcasting all the major sports from rugby, to UFC, FA and UEFA championships. And, if there’s a sport they aren’t screening yet (unheard of!), they’ve been known to broadcast on request! This place is so dedicated to sports that even the bathrooms are equipped with live sound feeds, so there’s really no way of missing out on the action. Known as a gathering spot for Liverpool supporters, The Fox is The Paddington’s arch enemy, so don’t wander in wearing anything other than the Reds shirt.
Located in Takapuna, the Elephant Wrestler is a mid-century modern style sports bar with a beautifully tiled bar, exquisite carpets, bright light fixtures, booth-seating, pop-art paintings and retro bar stools. Equipped with a full-size projector and four plasma screen TVs, there’s enough viewing space for everyone—and even a pool table for those itching for a game themselves. The best part of this beauty, however, is the spacious backyard beer garden, equipped with its own retractable roof, allowing you to soak up the sunshine on the better days. Perfect for barbeques, drinks and canapés, there’s even a private balcony and deck area. Snack on some fries, share a platter with your mates or indulge in one of their revered steak cuts. It’s Auckland’s only official Heineken bar, but there’s also a range of Monteith’s and tap beers
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Image Credit: Kellie Blizard