There are few things in life more refreshing than a cold beer after a hike up to the top of Mauao, or an afternoon of surfing the clear blue waves. Or it’s Wednesday and you’ve had a busy time at work and all you want to do is see your friends over a glass of wine. Or! You’re on holidays in Tauranga or the Mount (lucky you) and you’re searching for the best bars to quench your thirst. Whatever the occasion, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best bars in Tauranga and the Mount.
Situated in the historic post office building in Tauranga (it shares the same roof as Clarence Bistro), IKI Bar offers cocktails and beers, a wine list that’s predominately made up of New Zealand drops and seriously good Southeast Asian fare. Choose the reasonably priced banquet menu—$20 per person or $40 if you’re feeling hungry. We love the kombu and sake cured salmon and the soft shell crab bao with pickled daikon and coriander. Put on your favourite pair of earrings and head to IKI with your girlfriends, or take a special someone there for a first date. Rest assured, you’ll want to return.
A stroll away from the beach and smack bang in the center of the Mount sits Astrolabe, one of New Zealand’s busiest bars in the summer time. It’s not hard to see why. An outdoor beer garden, colourful umbrellas, a crowd-pleasing menu and relaxed atmosphere make this the kind of place that you can visit each week to catch up with mates. They also do great deals—on Thursdays it’s two-for-one cocktails (our pick is the Negroni) and they do tight-arse Tuesdays, where a burger, chips and beer is just $10. We’ll see you there.
Papamoa Beach Tavern
After a day hanging out at the beach in the sunshine or swimming, head to the Papamoa Beach Tavern, also known by the locals as the ‘Pap Tav’ for a cold beer. The bar and eatery is located in the coastal town of Papamoa, which is a short drive from the Mount. The vibe at the Pap Tav is relaxed and friendly, and is ideal for family dinners or drinks with friends. For food, choose the fish and chips with chunky tartar sauce and the charred broccoli with yogurt and cucumber.
La Mexica Cantina and Restaurant
These days, few bars are open until the wee hours of the morning. Not La Mexica however, located on the Strand in Tauranga, which says goodbye to patrons at 3am. It’s not the only thing we like about this place. La Mexica is the best place to go in town when you want to dance- on Saturday nights in particular when there’s a Latin party with DJs. If you would like to learn, there are free salsa dancing lessons on a Thursday night, and the Mexican food they offer is tasty enough. Tequila highly recommended.
It’s hard to beat a good espresso martini on a night out. So, when we came across one at Hide—creamy with a roasted coffee flavour and a lick of booze—we were ecstatic. As the name suggests, Hide is down a laneway off the main drag of the Mount, and has a large courtyard. To drink, there are Moa beers on tap including the classics and some seasonal brews. The food menu is mostly designed for sharing—we love the oysters and cheese board. If you’re after something more substantial, there are pizzas and larger plates, too.
You’ll find disco balls, old-school music and arcade games at Voodoo Lounge, which, after a few drinks, becomes a very alluring and nostalgic place to be. The Mexican dive bar is not the venue you’d take your grandmother to for a catch up (the music from the DJ would probably be too loud) but on a Saturday night it’s rammed with young people hanging out, drinking and having fun. There are tacos and cocktails and the staff are friendly, but really, we just care about the dance floor and grooving to Sultans of Swing.
Mount Social Club
Mount Social Club attracts people of all ages to drink, eat and listen to live music. The latter of which will suit all tastes—we’ve seen rock bands, DJs and reggae singers there. The interior is colourful and eccentric—think sofas, recycled materials and an old truck. In the kitchen the chefs use local produce and free-range eggs and meat, and there are lots of vegan options available, too. Check out their website for weekly drink specials and upcoming events.
The Rising Tide
Overlooking a green reserve in Mount Maunganui is The Rising Tide, part dumpling house and part brewery (Mount Brewing Co.). On tap there are 39 of their own craft beers, as well as cider and wine for those who aren’t into hops. Our favourite thing about TRT are the dumplings—the pan-fried pork and vegetables ones are the ideal antidote to a hangover. And, who doesn’t love a help-yourself to chilli sauce station? Good luck finding a seat outside on the deck on the weekend—it gets packed, but if you’re patient though, it’s worth it.
Is it really a round up of the best bars in town if you haven’t included the token Irish pub? We’re not sure, but nevertheless, The Mellick would make it on our list every time. There are a selection of beers on tap—we're happy to see that Panhead made the cut—and mid-week they do dinner specials when you’re after a hearty meal and don’t feel like washing up. Saturday nights at the Mellick are pretty fun and pumping—there's usually a band playing with locals singing their beautiful and sometimes off-tune hearts out.
Always have an after plan, here are the best cafes in Tauranga and The Mount for the inevitable morning after.
Image credit: Stocksy, Astrolabe Brewbar, Hide, The Rising Tide