The 7 Best Bars in Wellington, New Zealand

Neon glasses | © Newsbie Pix/Flickr
Neon glasses | © Newsbie Pix/Flickr
Photo of Joe Coates
17 July 2019

New Zealand’s second largest city and capital is Wellington. Located on the southern coast of the country’s North Island, Wellington is known for its gorgeous harbor, its weather — the city’s often called ‘Windy Wellington’ — and for having some of the best bars and restaurants in the country. Discover Wellington’s best bars.


Bar, Restaurant, European
Map View

This groovy place on Edwards Street embodies the artsy, alternative vibe that Wellington is famed for. The furniture has a retro, mid-century style, and the beer, wine and spirits are mostly independent and slightly different from what you might expect. Even the name, Meow, is typical Wellington. There’s nothing quite like being asked where you’re off to later and seeing a slightly confused expression on the person’s face when you reply, “Meow.” They’re also into their music here, with notables such as as Electric Wire Hustle performing fairly regularly.

The Malthouse

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub, European, Wine, Beer, $$$
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At The Malthouse, you can expect a bar where beer is treated with the respect that it deserves, considering its history, which significantly pre-dates the history of wine. You’ll find fridges full of different beers from all around the world, and the bar is lined with taps featuring brilliant artisan brews. Boasting over 80 of the world’s best beers, you’ll be sure to find something new the first time you visit, as well as every time after that.

The Library

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, Dessert, $$$
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Drinks and literature
Drinks and literature | Courtesy of The Library

Specializing in scrumptious desserts and delicious cocktails, The Library is a low-key, unpretentious setting for a few after-work drinks, and is also the perfect location to start your night out. You’ll be spoiled for choice here, where the drink list extends to almost 20 pages, from single malt whiskeys to beers, rare wines and a list of cognacs. Of course, you can’t name a bar ‘The Library’ without having at least a few books hanging around. So naturally, when you come into this bar and take a seat, you’re likely to be sitting under a huge bookshelf that extends the length of the bar and holds thousands of classic titles for you to admire while you enjoy your exquisite cocktail.

Hawthorn Lounge

Bar, Cocktail Bar, European, $$$
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Flamin' Cocktails
Flamin' Cocktails | © Lachlan Hardy/Flickr

At the forefront of this bar is tradition. Hawthorn Lounge is a cocktail bar with a 1930s style that boasts all the top-quality ingredients needed to make classic cocktails without the modern bells-and-whistles — just good, simple, authentic beverages. Hawthorn Lounge’s decor and feel is comprised of a lot of dark wood and dark leather, where the only thing that may distract the eye from the brilliant cocktail in front of you is the dapper bartender working in front of a wall filled with an incredible selection of spirits and liqueurs.

Foxglove Bar & Kitchen

Bar, Restaurant, Diner, Cocktail Bar, European, Fusion, Pub Grub, $$$
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Foxglove is one of Wellington’s most exciting venues, serving a range of fine wines and rare whiskeys. They also have an intriguing choice of original cocktails that are based on traditional cocktail making with a twist, that reflects New Zealand’s culture and agriculture. This bar is located behind the secret door of an oak wardrobe in the equally stunning Foxglove restaurant in Queen’s Wharf, where the decor matches the drinks, making this one of the classiest venues in the city.

C.G.R. Merchant & Co.

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Central American, South American, $$$
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Gin Cocktails
Gin Cocktails | © Max_7000/Flickr

Walking in from a bustling Courtney Place, you find yourself instantly mellowing. When you round the top of the stairs, you’re suddenly transported into a scene out of The Rum Diary. Before we go any further, the bar’s name stands for Coffee, Gin and Rum. This makes perfect sense, as C.G.R. specialises in making their own rum and gin infusions, using a variety of herbs, fruits and spices. The infusions are always changing, depending on ingredients available, season of the year and how long it might take to make a particular one.

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Salted caramel spiced rum? Ahm, YES!!

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Havana Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Cuban, Tapas, Street Food, $$$
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Havana Bar
Havana Bar | © russellstreet/Flickr

Wine, tapas, beer and cocktails. Go here if you want a taste of la vida loca! With great tunes pumping each day without fail and a truly unique look, Havana Bar will always put a smile on your dial. Rum plays a big part on the drink menu, and this is one of the best spots for a weekend brunch that’s removed from the classic eggs Benedict. They’re big supporters of local music, and have acts performing three nights a week. So get down, and shake your tail feather at Havana Bar.

These recommendations were updated on July 17, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.