Christchurch’s best outdoor bars are known for offering a welcoming ambiance, lively features and a fabulous selection of food and drinks guaranteed to keep everyone content. Here are 10 local go-to bars where you can soak up the last hours of sunshine for the day and ease into the nightly tunes of New Zealand’s lovely Garden City.
Bar, American, European, $$$
Smash Palace is a bar/burger joint hybrid that offers an innovative, effortlessly cool take on the outdoor bar concept. Food and drinks are served straight from a re-purposed bus; Smash Palace’s courtyard, lined with modern furnishings and outdoor heating, is what gives the space its sense of permanence. If you have an affinity for motorbikes, Smash Palace’s Thursday Bike Nights have become a bit of a local institution since the place settled in its current High Street location.
DUO Dining Room and Bar
Bar, Restaurant, Asian, Fusion, $$$
Located on the corner of Hereford and Rolleston Streets, not too far away from the Botanic Gardens, DUO is a downtown jaunt that has become renowned for its modern Asian flavours and chic urban vibes. Whether you choose a table in the modern outdoor area or in the stylishly decorated interiors, you’ll get to sample a selection of classic and Asian-fusion-style cocktails, New Zealand wines (there are daily specials for these), local and international beers and cider too.
Bar, Restaurant, Italian, European, Contemporary, $$$
Baretta is what you get when you cross a beer garden with a lively Italian-inspired restaurant. Settle by the spacious, terracotta-paved patio to savour some classic pizzas, bar snacks with a sophisticated twist (think arancini with pumpkin or a plate of spicy chicken tenders), along with a great selection of wines, beers and spirits to suit all tastes and occasions.
Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
The Astro Lounge is the casual sibling of Christchurch’s Cook’n’ With Gas Bistro. The venue is a hidden gem in quite a literal sense, given that it’s tucked behind its more refined counterpart. This is a place to grab some drinks and bar snacks, unwind in a beer garden-like courtyard and listen to some cool tunes while you’re enjoying those balmy summer evenings. On a crisp night, the roaring gas heaters come out to warm you into a sense of bliss.
Vesuvio Jazz and Tapas Bar
Bar, Restaurant, European, Contemporary, $$$
With cocktails, live jazz, European tapas and a sheltered brick courtyard, it’s fair to say Vesuvio has got all the right ingredients for a memorable night out. For a more intimate experience, you can always tuck yourself into the cosy ‘library’ space upstairs; but those who prefer their happy hour with an alfresco twist will feel right at home in a sheltered outdoor setting lined with flower baskets and aptly fitted with plenty of heating for those nippy evenings. An extensive list of wines and beers from New Zealand and abroad is an added bonus.
Bar, Gastropub, Pub Grub, European, Contemporary, $$$
Engineers is famous for being Christchurch’s only rooftop bar. There’s something for everyone here: it’s as much a place for the late-night clubbers to bump to some epic live DJ beats as it is a chilled out jaunt for some after-work drinks, bar snacks or an unpretentious sit-down meal. On the drinks menu, you’ve got a decent selection of wines, cocktails and spirits. If you’re feeling famished you can choose to share some classic platters with your bar-hopping companions or you can simply sample an assortment of hearty gastropub thoroughfares.
Fiddlesticks Restaurant and Bar
Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
Fiddlesticks is a sophisticated place that has become the ultimate getaway spot for those exploring the Arts Precinct. Grab a table in the sheltered courtyard to soak up the inner-city atmosphere. A roaring fireplace will fill the outdoorsy space with a nightly fervour as you spend some time sampling some New Zealand craft ales, a comprehensive curation of wines from all over the world as well as a selection of contemporary mains that make the most of local produce, meat and fish.
No.4 Bar and Restaurant
Bar, Restaurant, Gastropub, Contemporary, European, Oceanian, Pub Grub, $$$
If you like the idea of chilling out at a friendly neighbourhood gastropub with a heated courtyard, a visit to No.4 Bar and Restaurant will be right up your alley. Every night, this Merivale institution offers something special: live music is a given on Sundays and a rotating list of food and drinks specials is a regular feature that keeps local patrons coming back time and again. Your thirst will be quenched by a comprehensive list of wines from New Zealand and abroad, as well as an array of classic cocktails, ciders, bottled beers and craft brews.
Strange & Co
Bar, Contemporary, American, $$$
Strange & Co is a rustic venue with a pleasant atmosphere, plenty of outdoor seating and a dynamic events calendar that’s bound to keep all visitors entertained. Comedy nights, live DJs and smooth Sunday music sessions are some of the regular features you can tap into. Cocktails are the house speciality there. If you’re feeling adventurous, the ‘Strange Creations’ menu includes a Tennessee Tea cocktail that’s made with moonshine, sweet tea, peach, mint and cranberry.
Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, European, $$$
The Brickworks is a friendly establishment at the foot of Christchurch’s Cashmere Hills. This is a great place to chill out on a weekend, whether you’re looking to spend the long summer nights sipping some beers in the sunny courtyard or you’d be happy just watching a live sports screening indoors. If you’re popping around with the family, the younger ones will have their own menu to browse — and all kids’ meals come with the option of ice cream sundae for dessert. For the grown-ups, there’s a selection of contemporary mains and standard pub meals to fuel up even the pickiest of eaters.