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Last updated : Nov 2009
Auckland Nightlife
Auckland Nightlife - TravelPuppy.com
Auckland may not be Paris or New York, but it has its share of night entertainment. The smarter venues are down on the waterfront, around the America’s Cup Village and the new Princes Wharf development.

High Street, to the south of Queen’s Wharf, also has a number of good bars, including some with live music, and there are also a number of popular clubs and bars in the immediate suburbs, particularly along Karangahape Road or in Ponsonby and Parnell.

In bars and clubs the dress code tends to be casual, although some places enforce a smarter rule and are particularly anti leathers and black jeans, since these tend to be clothes favoured by gangs.

Licensing laws are not strict and some bars even have a 24 hour licence, while others still remain open until the early hours of the mornings.

The age minimum for drinking alcohol is 18 years. On average, a pint of beer will cost approximately NZ $3 to $6, while a glass of wine can be anything from NZ $4 to $12, depending on where your drinking.

To find out what is going on in Auckland, read the free monthly listings magazine What’s Happening, the Thursday and Saturday editions of the New Zealand Herald, or the free newspaper Tourist Times.


Many local favourites are situated down by the waterfront, such as the vast glass walled bar, Fox’s Ale House and Restaurant, The Loaded Hog, Quay Street, in the Viaduct Basin, O Hagan’s and Plum, with newly fashionable hangouts in Prince’s Wharf, refurbished as a result the America’s Cup challenges. These include Prince’s Wharf, Bellini, in the Hilton Auckland, , 147 Quay Street, and the decidedly un-Russian vodka bar, Prince’s Wharf, Lenin Bar, 201 Quay Street.

With Auckland's British influenced past, it is not surprising that there are numerous British style bars in Auckland, the biggest being the Civic Tavern, 1 Wellesley Street West, which has an Irish bar, Murphy’s, and an English bar, the London Bar, both situated downstairs, with live music and a bistro restaurant.

Alternatively visitors can try the appropriately named Shakespeare Tavern (a micro brewery producing its own ale) or Mad Dogs and Englishmen, both on Albert Street, or The Immigrant Irish Bar, 104 Fanshawe Street, an out-and-out Irish pub, with live music at the weekend.

Other places worth going to are the Starks Civic Theatre Bar at the corner of Queen and Wellesley streets, Dogs Bollix on the corner of Karangahape and Newton roads, Rakino’s on the 1st floor of 31 High Street, the Belgian Beer Café in Vulcan Lane, Elbow Room in Durham Lane or Tabac, 6 Mills Lane, renowned for its comfortable velvet room and for being part owned by ex Crowded House singer/songwriter Neil Finn.


Sky City Casino in the Skytower, on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets, is a gambling haven and an entertainment complex that includes a theatre, restaurant, bars and a hotel, as well as the casino itself. The minimum for entering the casino is 20, although a passport is not required. Dress code is smart casual and t shirts, jeans and sandals are not allowed.


The Globe, 299 Queen Street, is a good place to start, with DJs from 10.00 pm on Friday and Saturday. At the harbor, The Loaded Hog, Quay Street, in the Viaduct Basin, has long been a favoured hangout for yachties and yuppies alike. Visitors can try the Plum, which is also in the basin.

The Fu Bar at 166 Queen Street caters to a younger alternative crowd while the Khuja Lounge, 536 Queen Street, caters for the more mature, musical punters, as does The Jazz Bar at the corner of Queen and Rutland streets and Galatos, 17 Galatos Street, a mellow lounge bar with DJ led dancing.

For the big party atmosphere head for Papa Jack’s Voodoo Lounge in Vulcan Lane, Ibiza, 253 K’Road, or Roots, 322 K’Road, while live music enthusiast might prefer the Kings Arms, 59 France Street, where they can witness small time NZ touring acts playing R&B, trad’ rock, thrash, metal or alternative and punk sets.


Classic, 31 Queen Street is a well known comedy venue that showcases local talent as well as up and coming international acts.

There is also the Civic Theatre, corner of Queen Street and Wellesley Street, the Aotea Centre, Aotea Square, Queen Street, Silo Theatre, Lower Grays Avenue, and Maidment Theatre, corner of Princess Street and Alfred Street.

Cultural Events

In February a family orientated concert is staged at Auckland Domain, Opera in the Park.

The Pasifika Festival celebrates Polynesian culture and takes place each March, in Western Springs.

There are many small food, wine and music festivals throughout the year, especially during summer.

The year ends with Christmas in the Park, which is another family orientated concert at the Auckland Domain, in December.


There are many local dance groups, one of which is the Auckland Dance Company. There are regular visits from the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company, which is based in Wellington. Most performances are given at the Aotea Centre, Queen Street:
Telephone: (09) 307 5060.

Black Grace is an all male dance troupe from the Pacific Islands, whilst the Pounamu Maori Performance Group give regular displays of Polynesian song and dance at the Auckland Museum, Auckland Domain:
Telephone: (09) 306 7067.


The city has several cinemas, with the best listings in the daily New Zealand Herald. Most of the mainstream cinemas are situated along Queen Street, at the junction with Wellesley Street.

These include:

The Mid-City Cinema Centre
Address: 239 Queen Street
Telephone: (09) 307 5075).

The St James Theatre
Address: 312 Queen Street
Telephone: (09) 377 7666).

The main arthouse cinema is the Academy, situated underneath the city library:
Address: 64 Lorne Street
Telephone: (09) 373 2761.

There is also a 7 storey high IMAX screen at Force Entertainment Centre, next to Aotea Square, Queen Street:
Telephone: (09) 979 2400.

The homegrown film that has caused the biggest international sensation is the Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson, parts of which were filmed not far from Auckland.

The city has achieved more serious minded celluloid acclaim for itself through the 1994 film Once Were Warriors, made from Alan Duff’s harrowing novel about the struggle of a poor Maori family in south Auckland.

Whale Rider (2002), Heavenly Creatures (1994) and The Piano (1993) are also films New Zealand can be proud of.

Literary Notes

New Zealand, rather than just Auckland, has several literary figures, many of whom are known internationally, such as Katherine Mansfield, who is most noted for her short stories.

Janet Frame whom concerned herself largely with the emotional crises that she herself experienced, while Keri Hulme, of mixed Maori, English and Orkney descent, won the Booker Prize for The Bone People (1983). This was an experimental work drawing on Maori culture and the best selling book ever by any living New Zealand author.

Maurice Gee, who worked in the city as a teacher and later a librarian, sets several of his novels in Auckland, whilst Alan Duff, whose kitchen sink dramas, such as Once Were Warriors (1990), examines the place of Maori in modern society.


The Auckland Philharmonia,
Telephone: (0508) 266 237
Email address: ap@aucklandphil.co.nz
Website address: www.akl-phil.co.nz

performs mainly at the Auckland Town Hall, Queen Street:
Telephone: (09) 309 2677

This has ballet, opera and classical music regularly featured on the cultural menu.

Although based in Wellington, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra also regularly performs in Auckland, usually at the Town Hall or the Aotea Centre, Queen Street:
Telephone: (04) 801 3890
Email address: nz.info@nzso.co.nz
Website address: www.nzso.co.n

Outdoor concerts are also held frequently in the Auckland Domain during the summer.

There is a variety of places to visit for live music, especially at the weekend, mostly in the Downtown area, along Karangahape (K) Road and in Ponsonby. Visitors can try Papa Jack’s Voodoo Lounge, 9 Vulcan Street, which has live touring bands and DJs. Also The Jazz Bar, corner of Queen and Rutland streets, where you can see a variety of jazz, Galatos for off beat live acts, or the Kings Arms for sweaty bands.

For equally lively performances, you can also visit the Dogs Bollix, Rakino’s, or O Hagan’s. It’s worth remembering that most New Zealand bars are threefold; bar, restaurant and club, so many places will at some point in the evening introduce a more clubby feel, even if it’s someone with an acoustic guitar sitting in the corner.


The main venue for theatrical performance is the Aotea Centre, Queen Street, which has various sized auditoriums.

The wonderfully restored Civic Theatre, Queen Street and Wellesley Street West, (which is north of the Town Hall) is used for plays and musicals:
Telephone: (09) 307 5058
Email address: civictheatre@xtra.co.nz
Website address: www.civictheatre.co.nz.

More modern rock, drama, dance and cabaret performances take place at the Sky City Theatre, (which is on the corner of Federal Street and Victoria Street):
Telephone : (09) 912 6000.

Local productions can be seen at:

The Dolphin Theatre
Address: Spring Street, Onehunga
Telephone: (09) 636 7322
Website: www.dolphintheatre.org.nz

Howick Little Theatre Inc
Address: Lloyd Elsmore Park, Howick
Telephone : (09) 534 1406
Email address: info@hlt.org.nz
Website address: www.hlt.org.nz.