From unconventional bars in buses to dimly lit speakeasies and local craft breweries, Ōtautahi Christchurch's nightlife is anything but dull.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic date night spot or a place to dance the night away, these are the Christchurch bars you don’t want to miss.
So without further ado, here's where you'll find the best bars in Christchurch.
Pink Lady Rooftop
There’s nothing like a rooftop bar to get the party started, and Pink Lady Rooftop has got to be Christchurch’s best. Open-air yet intimate, the chic, beachy vibes will make you feel like you’re on holiday in the Hamptons. On the cocktail menu, you’ll find exciting signatures and perfected classics alike, all expertly crafted and ice cold. Beer-wise, the taps pour Wellington’s Fortune Favours, while the list of wine hails from NZ and beyond. If you get peckish, the food menu offers a fancy take on bar snacks (see: bao buns and “boujee fries”). Whatever’s in the glasses you’re clinking, a night out on the Pink Lady rooftop promises a night of indulgence and views for days.
Oh, O.G.B., where would we be without you? This classy establishment is housed inside one of Christchurch’s few heritage buildings, Old Government House (hence the name). The speakeasy-style bar overlooks Cathedral Square with a charming outdoor courtyard, good old fashioned table service, and live music. Inside, you’ll find an intimate, well-stocked bar with more than forty cocktails, an extensive local wine list and several bars on tap. If you’re a Negroni fan, the one here is the best in town. In addition to excellent drinks, O.G.B. serves moreish snacks from 3pm until 1:00 am. Try the wild mushroom parpadelle or one of their burgers, which are served with hand-cut fries.
Towards the back of O.G.B., tucked away behind a secret bookcase, you’ll find Parlour, a cocktail lounge with pink velvet seating where you can host your next shindig in style as it's reserved for private events. If you end up having a few too many and need a place to stay, O.G.B. is home to the Heritage Christchurch, perfect for a central city staycation.
If natural wine, share plates, and sleek interiors are a few of your favourite things, get yourself to Londo ASAP. A new addition to Papanui Road, the small, window-front bar has a slick fit-out that you’ll want to hang out in all night long. The A+ list of biodynamic, natural wines is definitely the star of the show, alongside their killer cocktails. Simple in the most delicious way, Londo’s food menu showcases fresh, flavourful ingredients—heirloom tomato and nectarine, topped with hazelnut and pickled elderflower, are served atop a bed of stracciatella, no less. Every dish is almost too pretty to eat. Keyword, almost.
Bangalore Polo Club
The Bangalore Polo Club has triumphantly returned to Christchurch. Follow the alleyway just off Oxford Terrace to the small yet regal bar. Filled with leather banquettes, beautiful tiled floors (characteristically covered with peanut shells) and a roaring fire, it’s the ultimate spot for an evening tipple. The creative cocktail menu is extensive, which makes deciding on a drink incredibly difficult. We suggest a Victor Hugo or The Joker, a modern take on a traditional Pimms, topped with a cucumber and mint popsicle for good measure. Don't expect the food menu to be easier to choose from, The small and sharing plates menu is much shorter but features delightful options like crispy squid, goats cheese cigars and falafel salad. Pro tip: if you’re looking for a place to dance the night away, this cosy bar is the place.
Civil & Naval
On Lyttelton's main drag, you’ll find Civil & Naval, a little tapas bar squeezed into what was formerly a historic tailor. Look out for the original facade and the few seats outside a large window, which peers out onto London Street. Grab a seat outside under the green canopy in the bricked courtyard or cosy up for drinks by the log fire. The open kitchen serves up unique interpretations of classic tapas and larger sharing plates with European influences. Each dish pairs wonderfully with a strong, carefully curated spirit and wine list focusing on both small-scale local and international growers and distillers. The casual yet elegantly designed space reflects the hip sensibilities of the surrounding area while continuing to pay tribute to Lyttelton’s past.
New Regent Street
Gin lovers, rejoice! Christchurch is finally home to a garden oasis, Gin Gin, serving up botanical delights in large chalices. The tiny, one-room hideaway is our day drinking spot of choice, with its pink walls, velvet ottomans and an assortment of pots and hanging baskets filled with plants and edibles (many are used in the creative gin concoctions). And on the menu? A huge range of gin that’s been sourced from distilleries both near and far—from Christchurch to England and Japan. Said gins are used in fifteen different gin and tonics as well as negroni on tap, local wine and beer. There’s also a small menu of tapas and platters. You’ll find Mediterranean pizza, cured salmon, goat cheese and flatbreads. If you’re a gin lover, there’s no better place to be than this intimate, outdoor (and dog-friendly) venue.
No best of Christchurch list is complete with Smash Palace, one of the city’s most loved bars that came into being in 2012 after Goodbye Blue Monday fell down in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. An emblem of the Christchurch rebuild, Smash Palace has found permanent digs on High Street in the central city. The original bus-converted-into-a-bar is still very much present but it now sits alongside a beautiful brick building and a beer garden. The interior is a cosy place to spend a few hours, but the outdoor seating is where Smash really shines. During the winter months, order a mulled wine or cider and grab a seat near the heaters. They take their burgers pretty seriously here, with all ingredients made from scratch on-site. Also on the menu is fried chicken, dumplings and some of the best chips with aioli in the city.
The Last Word
New Regent Street
Located on the buzzing New Regent Street, The Last Word is your go-to for whisky. Their menu features an expertly curated collection of whiskies from all over the world (rumour has it, there are over 600 bottles on the shelf). If that gets you excited, grab a fellow connoisseur and book yourselves in for a private tasting. Of course, the bar also boasts a heavenly cocktail menu that'll win your heart whether you're after something strong or smashable. There's even a quality selection of craft beer and boutique wines. Between the classy lounge ambience and the abundance of delicious drinks, you’re in for a 10/10 evening.
The Dirty Land
Step inside The Dirty Land, where you’ll be greeted with moody lighting, heavy red curtains, exposed brick and textural fixtures sitting underneath a pressed tin ceiling. Order one of their killer cocktails, both the Melancholy, which is the perfect comforting drink for the cold weather ahead and the Papacito, which features chilli infused tequila, cold-drip coffee, vanilla sugar and a hint of chocolate are excellent. Paired with a nuanced wine list and a selection of imported beers, it’s easy to see why this place is hugely popular amongst Christchurch locals. Oh, and there’s the amazing Mexican food delivered straight from Mexicanos next door, you won’t ever want to leave! Whether you’re snuggling into the cosy corner for a few drinks or wanting to celebrate until the wee hours of the morning, The Dirty Land won’t disappoint.
Red Light District
Cleverly disguised behind a laundromat, the Red Light District bar is a hole-in-the-wall speakeasy tucked away just off Victoria Street. Entry to this secret cocktail lounge is through a working drycleaners, which only adds to the allure. Follow the red lanterns into the dimly-lit bar with Eastern decor and intimate seating. The well-stocked bar specialises in premium cocktails and each drink has been carefully created by expert mixologists. Their espresso martini is the perfect pick-me-up or opt for the Rhubarb Triangle, which is both refreshing and potent. Another go-to is the Vera Wang, which mixes gin, sparkling wine, lychee and lemongrass. There’s also a limited snack menu available to nibble on alongside your drinks. The perfect destination for date night or catching up with a friend, Red Light District is a true hidden gem and unlike any other bar in Christchurch.
In what was formerly Whet Bar’s old site, Sawyer is a cosy lounge with an enticing collection of fermented and distilled refreshments and creative cocktails. Located in the Deloitte building, the contemporary space is dark and moody with both indoor and outdoor seating. Currently open from Wednesday to Friday, it’s an excellent choice for after work drinks due to its proximity to plenty of the city’s office towers.
In the heart of the city, you’ll find the iconic, Fat Eddie's, New Zealand's favourite jazz club. The second-storey bar is one of many bars on Oxford Terrace, overlooking the banks of the Avon River. Head upstairs, where you’ll be greeted by a yellow neon sign and framed photos of famed musicians and a big stage that’s home to different musicians every night of the week. With plenty of room for grooving, the spacious establishment is the ultimate spot to dance the night away or for some people-watching on the balcony. It’s also a popular joint for functions from work dos to birthday parties.
Need a plan for the day after the night before? Here are 50 of the best things to do in Christchurch.
Image credit: main article and top image; Pink Lady Rooftop Bar, O.G.B, Londo, Bangalore Polo Club, Civil & Naval, Gin Gin, The Last Word, The Dirty Land, Red Light District, Sawyer.