Exploring Central Otago
Central Otago – affectionately known as ‘Central’ – is home to welcoming rural outposts where you can enjoy the famous southern hospitality in ...
There’s not much better than a killer drink and a bangin' venue to drink it in, and we’re pretty spoilt for choice around New Zealand’s main centres. So when you’re tripping around exploring the best of your own backyard, make sure to stop in to these hotspots for a little (or large) pick-me-up.
Stylish, classy and oh-so-refined, Bellini’s killer views of Auckland Harbour and contemporary minimalist glamour converge to create one of the city’s finest establishments. But it’s not all floor-to-ceiling windows and an aesthetic that transports you to the extensive deck of your fanciest friend – there’s also some serious mixology going on here. Tackle one of the cockle-warming drinks like Smoking Barrel or Passion On Fire, or take in a classic with a twist like the Pear & Feijoa Moscow Mule. And of course, there are several Bellini options, from the classic peach to the Lychee and Vanilla or the Orange and Pomegranate Bellini.
Looking for something to nibble on? The chefs of the Hilton Auckland have created a menu full of what they like to call 'plates worthy of a status update', including the likes of slow cooked Wagyu short rib on the bone or, if you're in the mood for something sweet, profiteroles stuffed with ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce and crumbles.
The Hilton Princes Wharf, 147 Quay Street, Auckland
7am till late, seven days a week
+64 9 978 2025
A swanky throwback to 1940s New York, this funky hotspot rocks a chilled vibe where dapper, waistcoated booze alchemists dispense old-school charm and dangerously delicious cocktails to Wellingtonians in the know. Tucked away in an upstairs room beside a gym on Tory Street, the Hawthorn Lounge is all heavy wooden bar, huge leather Chesterfields, heavy red curtains and seriously top-shelf booze set to a soundtrack of big band music. Sack out in one of the Chesterfields by the crackling open fire and soak in the serenity, or get your prohibition on with a night of poker around a green baize table. Either way you’re in for a hell of an experience.
2/82 Tory Street, Wellington
04 890 3724
The Dirty Land’s interior is awash with heavy red curtains, exposed brick walls, tactile wallpaper and moody lighting, care of guttering candles and some seriously covetable fixtures hanging under a gnarly, pressed ceiling. It’s like walking onto the set of a David Lynch movie, only better – because here, you get a swanky cocktail list that rounds out an impressive and imaginative drinks menu. It goes without saying the drinks are killer; those with a taste for spice should tap the twist-on-a-classic that is the Peach & Jalapeño Margarita, while the Pirate Tea’s lacing of house-infused pineapple and cinnamon Anejo rum with lemon, pineapple and sugar makes for some primo drinking. The cocktail specials are always changing, so if you're feeling adventurous, tell the bar staff to surprise you! When you're peckish, check out the premium bar snack menu care of the adjoining Mexicano's, one of Christchurch's most popular restaurants.
131 Victoria Street, Christchurch
Mon – Sat from 4pm; Sun from 5pm
03 365 5340
This Queenstown institution is an intimate affair (think buttery leather armchairs, low ceiling and lighting, and shelves of amber-filled glittering bottles) with an enormous, roaring open fire crackling away in a statement Central Otago schist-rock fireplace, and an even larger selection of Pinot Noir (including an extensive local collection). Cocooned in comfort and redolent of old-world charm, Bardeaux is a haven for those looking to escape the exuberance of Q’town’s wild party scene, and is the perfect venue for a fireside tipple après-ski (or a drink out on the patio in the warmer months). If you’re not a fan of the Pinot Noir (seriously, this is flavour country) then a voluminous cocktail list and well-stocked cellar of vintage wines and champers will keep you content once you’ve narrowed down your search. What’s more, the late close time means you’re able to take your time and drink in the moment.
Eureka Arcade, 11 The Mall, Queenstown
4pm-4am, seven days a week
03 442 8284
Next time you’re down Otago ways, pop into Pequeño, order yourself an espresso martini, and kick back in the sleek surrounds of Dunedin’s finest lounge bar. It’s a world-class cocktail lounge tucked down some basement stairs, with beautiful ambience from the flickering open fire to exposed brick walls and eclectic mix of chandeliers. The cocktail list is one of the city’s most expansive, but if you can’t face the choice, ask one of the expert bartenders for one of their handcrafted creations. There’s a generous selection of wine and beer as well, with local brew Emerson’s on tap. Pop by on the weekend to catch some live jazz, order a selection of tasty sharing plates from the tapas menu, and settle in, because this is a bar so cosy you won’t want to leave.
50 Princes Street, Dunedin
Tuesday – Friday from 5pm
Saturday from 7pm
021 0836 4309