WellingtonEat & Drink
Two people enjoying drinks at Golding's Free Dive, a cool, kitsch, and cosy laneway bar in Te Aro, Wellington.

Golding’s Free Dive

Tucked away in Hannahs Laneway, Golding’s Free Dive is a much-loved Wellington bar. Flanked by a bakery, a pizzeria, a chocolate factory, and an award-winning restaurant, it’s right in the thick of things.

Opened in 2013 by Sean Golding, Golding’s Free Dive pays tribute to the dive bar scene of North America, but with less grime and more polish. The ‘free’ part of the name refers to it being a free house, as it doesn’t have contracts with any breweries. This means it can put whatever it wants on tap. There’s also a fridge full of bottled and canned beers, a small but perfectly formed menu of interesting wines, and some great whiskey and rum options. If that all sounds a bit daunting to you, just ask the staff for a recommendation, they know their stuff.

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There’s a cohort of regulars, including many who live in the apartments above and pop down for drinks. On sunny days you’ll have to be quick to nab a seat in the sheltered outdoor terrace. There are usually a few canine friends around for pats or feel free to BYO hound.

The bar is a cacophony of twinkling lights, taxidermy, photographs, and Star Wars memorabilia jostling for attention. It’s been described as “like drinking inside a pinball machine”. The light-up ‘BEER’ sign above the door has graced the Instagram feeds of most beer-drinking locals.

While the bar serves a delicious array of salty snacks, those searching for something more substantial are in luck. Just across the lane is Pizza Pomodoro, which has been “feeding our hungry patrons since day one”. The best bit? You don’t even have to leave your pint. Order your pizza at the bar, and it’ll arrive at your table in no time.