Backpackers have struck gold when it comes to nightlife in Auckland. As New Zealand is a popular backpacking country, the city has a host of backpacker bars with discounted food, drinks and special events running almost every night of the week. This is a great way to meet new like-minded people, especially if you are new to the city.
If you are looking for a different scene, perhaps to have drinks with friends, meet the locals, or dance to Auckland’s top resident DJs, there are some fun and creative bars dotted around the Viaduct Harbour, off Queen Street and Britomart.
When staying in central Auckland, there are a few good spots to find backpacker bars and backpacker party nights, themed bars, bars with a view, and nightclubs. This article will help you find some decent spots for the following:
Backpacker party events
On and just off Queen Street
Comedy on Queen Street
The gay scene on K Road
Backpacker Party Events
Some venues realise that backpackers love getting stuff for free and/or paying next to nothing for drinks. So, of course, New Zealand’s biggest city caters to us cheapskates.
First of all, leave Thursday nights free for the Frenzi Bar Crawl. Starting from The Camel Bar, Fort Street at 8pm, the crawl takes you to four bars with four free drinks (either beer or vodka and mixer), and sometimes a hotdog when the crawl goes to Bar 101. Throughout the night there are prizes to win, such as bungy jumps and bus passes. At NZ$10, even Auckland’s long-termers attend every so often, as it is a great way to meet new people in the city.
Cassette 9 on Vulcan Lane hosts the Tuesday night party: Pop Panic. Backpackers are in with a chance of winning skydives, bungy jumps, rafting and bus passes in the “Riff Raffle”. Or lose it all on one of the “mystery boxes”. Entry is free. Get a free drink and raffle ticket if you arrive at 9pm.
If you want a “city of sails” view with your drink then head down to the Viaduct Harbour. There is a whole host of themed bars along the harbour to add variety to your night out in Auckland.
Choose from the craft beers on tap in the Irish bar Danny Doolans, watch rugby matches at Fox’s Ale House Sports Bar, chill out in a vintage setting while sipping cocktails in Snapdragon, or pretend you are in the Wild West at Cowboys. As a backpacker in the harbour, it’s only appropriate to go to some travel themed bars, such as the tropical-themed Bungalow 8 with fish and palm trees that hosts backpackers meet up nights regularly. For something different, try Degree and The Crew Club on Saturday nights.
As the street every backpacker gets to know while visiting Auckland, we’ll make this the focal point to find the following bars. These places are either on or just off Queen Street.
Hidden down Durham Lane is the centre’s oldest commercial building, now a rustic bar called The Bluestone Room. Also, across from Bluestone is one of the entrances to Spitting Feathers, an English bar with international beer and cider and good value bar snacks.
If you love late-night dancing and need room to pull some shapes, Bar 101 down Elliot Street should suffice. The large dance floor is ideal for events, such as the Ministry of Sound. Next door, you will found the most affordable prohibition era experience in New Zealand at Habana Joe’s. With stylish decor and great value drinks (four-shot jars for NZ$10 and NZ$5 Jagers, for example), you can’t really go wrong. Upstairs in the Base hostel, Hello Sunshine is the perfect setting for pre-party drinks with views of the Sky Tower.
Head down Fort Street for backpacker bar The Camel Bar for an affordable beverage. Fort Street Union has a cool open-roof setting and NZ$1 pizza slices every Tuesday from 8pm. The Right Track Sports Bar is where you get your sports fix down Fort Street. Backpackers staying at the two Nomads hostels and Queen Street Backpackers will not have to travel far to get a pint.
If all else fails, QF Tavern on Queen Street always seems to be open. You’ll hear it before you see it, as the bar opens right up into the street.
Comedy Clubs in Auckland
Looking for some different entertainment to go with your drink, other than busting some cringe-worthy dance moves? The Classic Comedy and Bar is a great alternative.
Situated on Queen Street, The Classic plays host to both local and international comedy acts. One area is laid out in a cabaret-style, where guests are sat around tables. Adjacent to the main area is a separate bar. Then upstairs in The Classic Studio, a smaller venue with a more intimate comedy performance.
The street leading to Takuntai Square is probably the prettiest street in Auckland, with its fairy light decorations and tiled structures. Travel the world with your taste buds, as Britomart has bars dedicated to different nations.
Tyler Street Garage is easy to spot from Takuntai Square. Pop in for Asian food and drink and take in the heritage building feel with its rough brick walls. Xuxu (pronounced su-su) is a cosy Vietnamese restaurant and cocktail bar, identified easily as it is the only place on Galway Street and Commerce Street that looks like an overgrown garden.
Follow your ears to find The Britomart Country Club, as it is another “hear before you see” bar. The Country Club is essentially a garden bar, even on cool evenings, it’s nice to sit outside by the outdoor patio heaters. Finally, beer-lovers and those who love a quirky sense of style will love Northern Steamship. The brewbar on Kent Street has all the Mac’s beer to taste on tap. We love the floor lamps hanging from the ceiling.
K Road Nightlife
Auckland’s main gay scene is on K Road, short for Karangahape Road.
For dancing into the late hours, the male crowd can be found in Urge and Family Bar, whist Eagle Bar is open for everyone!
For a dragtastic time check out Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret and Legend. Caluzzi is an interactive dining experience mixing comedy with award-winning drag artists.
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