The 10 Best Bars in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr
Joe Coates

Queenstown is one of the main draw-cards when it comes to foreigners heading over to New Zealand for a visit. The combination of eye-popping scenery, plentiful recreational activities and excellent bars, restaurants and hotels make this a desirable place to spend a chunk of, if not all of, a holiday. Here’s our guide to the best bars.

1. Pig & Whistle Pub

Bar, Pub, European, British, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub

The Pig and Whistle is a jaunty British-style pub that has started many a night, and has been the ending point for many more. It’s a simple affair, a hangout for hardcore skiers and snowboarders who ride the mountains by day and drink and party all night. The fare is what you’d expect; no-nonsense stuff that fills an empty belly after a hard day on the slopes or trekking about, and helps soak up the copious amounts of alcohol that are typically consumed on a boisterous evening. It ain’t classy, but it’s fun with no sign of any pretentiousness.

2. Morrison's Irish Pub

Pub, Pub Grub

Guinness For Days
© Scott Thompson / Flickr

Morrison’s Irish Pub is exactly what you’d expect from a high-quality pub of this sort. It’s located slightly away from the lake, so you can expect it to be a little more relaxed and free from many tourists. There is a pool table, the views from the balcony are still first-rate, there’s a pub quiz and the beer comes in actual pints! The food is well-proportioned and not overly expensive, and if you fancy catching a bit of sports then they have TVs to accommodate you. All in all, it’s a great spot to kick back, relax and let out many contented sighs.

3. Cowboy Qt Ltd.

Bar, American, Pub Grub

Mechanical Bull Antics
© holycalamity / Flickr

If you’re looking for a night out that is different from any that you’re likely to have in Queenstown, then why not transport yourself to the Southern states of America and spend an evening at Cowboy Qt Ltd. Before we go any further let us just state for the record that there is a mechanical bull, so that should basically negate any further need to explain why it is worth a visit. This cowboy themed bar is a lot of fun, very earthy, and a place that invites a good time with every drink ordered at the bar. Don’t take our word for it. Head in there and see for yourself.

4. Winnies

Bar, Restaurant, European

Whereas some bars in Queenstown are more suited to the summertime or the winter months, Winnies is in its element all year round. It’s cosy and snug in the winter, ad during the summer you can bask in the open air whilst still being inside, thanks to its unique open roof! Their pizzas are genuinely gourmet and quite possibly the best in town, so it’s well worth a visit whether it’s cold or roasting hot outside.

5. Minus 5° ICE BAR

Bar, Cocktail Bar, European, Pub Grub

No trip to Queensland would be complete without a visit to this famous ice-bar. For pure novelty it can’t be beat, and the fact that your drink will never get warm is an excellent added bonus. They’ll rug you up with a coat if you don’t have one, and the expert bartenders will you sort you out something that’ll warm the cockles. It’s a real trip when you realise that basically everything is constructed and carved out of ice. The kids should even be captivated enough to let you finish your martini in peace, if you’re lucky.

6. The World Bar and Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, European, Australian

This bar has long been a Queenstown apres-ski institution. It’s warm and cosy, the food is cheap and hearty, and the beer is free-flowing and delicious, thanks to it never being in the lines for more than about five minutes. The World Bar draws skiers and snowboarders to it like moths to a flame, and the live music keeps the party going until long after it’s prudent to go to sleep if you want to catch first lifts.

7. Little Blackwood

Cocktail Bar, European, Pub Grub

There’s that old saying – an easy one to remember – that says, “location, location, location”. Clearly, the people behind Little Blackwood took this very much to heart, as you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bar in Queenstown that has a more enviable position than this one – and this is a little city with big views just about everywhere. Little Blackwood is perched right by Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded set among some of the most arresting scenery you’ll ever sip an espresso martini around. Cocktails – and such cocktails! – are the stars of this production, with some truly astounding charcuterie and cheese platters playing key support roles. The alcoholic concoctions are made with such love, that once you sit yourself down by the roaring fire in the evening, you’ll have to be pried out of your chair with a crowbar come the end of the night.

8. Bardeaux

Cocktail Bar, European, Pub Grub

Red Wine Evening
© Emiliano De Laurentiis / Flcikr

This bar is a sultry blend of dark woods, dim lighting and some of best cocktails you’ll be able to get your mitten-covered hands on after a chilly day up the slopes. The wine cellar is extensive – as you’d expect in a classy establishment such as this – with a special emphasis placed on local Pinot Noirs. Whereas most of Queenstown’s bars are dedicated to big, crazy nights out, Bardeaux is a centre of calm. Gathering around the big fire, and sipping on your favourite cocktails feels like a proper holiday, even if you’re a local.

9. Rhino's Ski Shack

Bar, European, Pub Grub

Rhino’s Ski Shack is a hidden basement bar, and is the place to go if you’re looking for that little slice of European apres-ski madness at the end of a day riding the slopes, with a Kiwi twist. You don’t make your way to this tucked-away bar to eat, you come here after dinner to exercise the mind with a little Jenga or some game of cards. Libations flow and, before you can say “Jagga-bomb”, they have their insidious hooks into you and you’re up and dancing on the normally packed dance floor.

10. Harry's Pool Bar

Bar, European

Pool Bar
© Sergio Fabara Muñoz / Flickr

The combination of a friendly – usually turning into a not-so-friendly – pool competition between friends, an open fire, and $6 NZD tap beers all night is one that draws many customers to Harry’s. There are pizzas to fill the bellies of those who stay for the long haul. It’s a relaxing and low-key way to pass an evening if you’re not in the mood to get out of control in one of Queenstown’s more notorious party bars.

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