The Ten Best Waterside Bars in Auckland
Summer calls for spritzes along the Viaduct and a few cold ones overlooking the harbour.
January 17, 2019
THE TEN BEST WATERSIDE BARS IN AUCKLAND
Summer calls for spritzes along the Viaduct and a few cold ones overlooking the harbour.
Aucklanders, summer is in full swing — and you would pity the fool who wasted these glorious days. While in winter we may huddle in dark corners, like underground bars, cradling a mulled wine and some form of hot comfort food, summer nights are about seasides and sunsets, cocktails and cool breezes. Whether you want to sip a spritz next to the beach or get into a bottle of something crisp by the harbour, these are the best waterside bars to grab a cold one and settle in for a splendid summer afternoon or evening.
There’s a million and one bars to choose from down the Viaduct, so it’s pretty hard to stand out above the rest. That’s exactly what Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co has done.
You’ll find Rudi’s above Danny Doolans, taking up a rather large space. There’s seating galore inside, but you’ll want to pull up a pew on that deck, soak in the sun, and enjoy the views over the marina and harbour. If you’re here to bend the elbow, grab one of Dr Rudi’s signature beers, brewed in-house thanks to a three tonne brewhouse.
In the food department there’s plenty to choose from, including family-style sharing eatery Saint Alice and Dominion Road-influenced dumpling joint Bang Bang China Cafe.
Truth be told though, what really sets this place apart is the view, the fully functional two lane bowling alley out back and the chilled but festive vibes. It’s a sun-drenched rooftop environment purposed for relaxation, long liquid lunches and general good times.
Locals rejoiced when Nazar Group’s Devon on the Wharf started to take shape on Devonport Wharf. The location speaks for itself as one of the best spots in Devo for a bite to eat and a drink, while it promised a better hospitality experience in the form of casual Middle Eastern dining.
The restaurant boasts a gorgeous fit-out. Colourful booths emblazoned with lush green leaves, white walls, cane furnishings and gold painted ceiling fans make Devon on the Wharf a brilliant environment in which to dine, made even better by the views across the Auckland harbour from wherever you sit.
The Lula Inn arrived at 149 Quay Street on the Viaduct Harbour following the closure of The Crew Club — the nautical beach club where the water practically lapped at your ankles.
The harbour still laps and the theme has been tweaked to celebrate New Zealand’s Pacific heritage. The menu at Lula’s isn’t squarely focussed on traditional Pacific cuisine — on paper it reads more like a gastro-bistro than a snapshot of Polynesia. Rather, it’s described as ‘playful Kiwi cuisine’, honing in on the dining philosophy of family-style sharing.
A drinkery in equal measure, Lula’s is something of a gin sanctuary, offering 40 boutique and mainstream varieties from Australasia, Britain, and the US. Pair any with the four kinds of tonic on hand or leave it to the bar staff with the three styles of G&T. The venue also moonlights as an entertainment venue from Thursday to Saturday, with soul and funk night Live at Lula’s filling the space.
Sandwiched between Euro and The Culpeper on Princess Wharf you’ll find Coley and Punch, a small and friendly bar with a clear-cut enthusiasm for whiskey, and cocktails which they rightly boast as the best in town.
Notably, the Coley & Punch has 250-odd varieties of whiskey (at least that’s what they have written down), all alphabetised and accompanied by tasting notes, age, barrel condition and region in a slick leather-bound ‘whiskey bible’. The impressive spirit wall boasts something for every palate, including single malts and scotches from around the globe, to a 1950 Glen Grant that will set you back $300 a dram.
With its outdoor harbour-side seating, a slick interior straight from the set of Mad Men and the killer drinks list, Coley & Punch should be your new local, go-to date destination or just the place to head for a mid-week dram.
Jason Rosen knows a thing or two about drinks. The Auckland mixologist is the owner of the 2017 Lewisham Awards ‘best bar’, Mea Culpa, and the reigning grand champion of a rum pairing competition held on the side of a Caribbean volcano.
You’ll find his harbourside cocktail bar The Parasol & Swing Company in the heart of the Viaduct nestled between Soul Bar and Dr Rudi’s. Presented across two levels, the rooftop bar is in a perfect position for afternoon sun and to soak up views of the glistening Viaduct basin.
On the menu you can expect to find a solid cocktail selection, boutique wine producers and rotating craft beers — we’re particularly excited about the nitro cold brew espresso martini and a Manhattan-esque concoction fit for three people and made with four heavyweight spirits, bitter orange and cherry wine.
With nautical-inspired decor and a sprawling deck, Takapuna’s waterfront eatery will transport you to your bach away from home. The relaxing teal blues, whites and light woods keep you in a perpetual summer evening state of mind. Specialising in freshly caught fish and seafood, you can have your chosen fish served up to you wood-fired, pan-fried or whole-roasted.
With seating options both inside and out you may as well make the most of what is left of the long evenings with friends and family. With views right into Takapuna Beach, watching the sunset whilst sipping away on the decks of the Regatta bar is an ideal way to unwind at the end of the day.
Bringing a much-needed unorthodox element to the Viaduct Harbour is Holey Moley — a quirky and outrageously fun mini-golf course by way of Australia. The 27 pop culture-themed holes are the perfect after work meander, first date icebreaker, or girls’/lads’ night on the town.
Visitors can tap, tap, tap their way through rooms themed around The Simpsons, E.T., The Flintstones and The Hobbit, complete trick shots across miniature buses as part of an Evel Knievel-themed hole and navigate around obstacles in nana’s living room.
The vibrant space also boasts a bar on the top level overlooking the waterfront. Called The Caddyshack, it serves craft beer and an appropriate pun-laden cocktail list that includes the likes of The Sugar Caddy, Putta Colada and the Waiheke Island Iced Tee. A full-service kitchen also boasts a menu of pizzas, burgers, hotdogs and bar snacks.
Seafood destination Swashbucklers is the ideal spot to sit back with a Pirate’s Platter and catch some afternoon rays. Situated right on the water along Westhaven Marina since 1997, the venue affectionately known as Swashies, is consistently one of Auckland’s best waterfront institutions — don’t let the skull and crossbones fool you, Swashies legacy is well deserved.
Boasting one of the best views in town — watch boats bob in their moorings from the sun-drenched deck with a chilled handle of beer (which doesn’t cost an arm…or a wooden leg).
The family-friendly restaurant serves some of the freshest fish in Auckland, complimented by fine steaks and other non-seafood favourites. On the drinks menu you’ll find NZ wine and a balanced list of international options.
Directly overlooking Half Moon Bay’s promenade, Richard Cooke and Gina Henry’s sunny tap house is down-to-earth home cooking with the touch of refinement necessary to keep you placed in the cheerful patio all afternoon.
The restaurant site provides a beautiful light-filled space overlooking the boats that fill the marina. A contemporary dining room, casual bar area with a large communal table and shaded outside seating. Well-executed sharing plates compliment the New Zealand wine list, craft beer offerings and bespoke cocktails — all of which can be worked off later courtesy of Grangers’ free bike hire.
Also located in the waterfront institution is Marina Cantina, an eatery serving a contemporary take on Mexican cuisine. Think fries loaded with pulled pork and queso cheese, snapper ceviche, and bottomless Mexican feasts.
Located smack bang in the middle of St Heliers along Tamaki Drive, you’ll find Moreton’s, complete with its picture perfect view of the harbour and our city’s largest dormant volcano. If lucky, you’ll be able to get a prime spot on the action packed footpath — it’s so close to the ocean that water basically laps underneath your feet while you dine.
After a hard day’s paddle boarding, Moreton’s proves to be the perfect spot for a hearty meal or sneaky beverage. The menu has everything you could ask for, literally everything. In fact there’s a whopping nine different sections, and that’s not even including dessert, drinks or the kids menu.
By night, Moreton’s turns into a great waterfront drinking spot, evolving into a gastropub/sports bar hybrid. They regularly host quiz nights and there are ample TVs to catch the most current game of sport. The drinks list includes mostly mainstream beer and cider varieties, though there are a couple of hoppy craft brews. Reservations are absolutely key on a sunny day.