WellingtonEat & Drink
Two people sitting up at the bar at Ascot, catching up for a drink whilst being served by a bartender.

Hidden bars of Wellington (and how to find them)

2 bar staff pouring drinks at Puffin Wine Bar in dim lighting.
Two people sitting up at the bar at Ascot, catching up for a drink whilst being served by a bartender.
Customers enjoy a drink on the rooftop bar Dirty Little Secret.
Three cocktails sit in line on a wooden bar. Bottles of alcohol sit on shelves on the wall behind.
A hand holding a pink cocktail inside KuiKui Lane.
2 yellow cocktails on a wooden bar in Hawthorn Lounge.
4 tap drinks inside Mean Doses taproom. Galaga, Mean IPA, Mean Juice, and Mean NZ PILS.
2 bar staff pouring drinks at Puffin Wine Bar in dim lighting.

Puffin

60 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Low-fi meets luxury at this hideaway bar on the ground floor of The Intrepid Hotel. The interior glows with emerald green velvet, brass fittings, and chandeliers. Despite the glam, it’s a casual spot for a drink with a friend. Quirky details like taxidermied animals (yes, there is a puffin) pack the space with personality.

Puffin serves organic and minimal intervention wines. Check out the board for what they currently have by the glass. The menu also includes classic cocktails and beer on tap. To go with your drink, there’s a thoughtful menu of charcuterie and cheese, oysters and small plates.

Puffin
Two people sitting up at the bar at Ascot, catching up for a drink whilst being served by a bartender.

Ascot

55 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Through a discreet door on Ghuznee Street, you’ll find a narrow, winding staircase. Follow the stairs up, up, up, (three whole flights), and right at the top, you’ll find Ascot.

Serving the unique combo of hot dogs and wine (trust us, it works), Ascot is a bar worth seeking out. With funky, eclectic decor inside and a rooftop terrace outside, it’s a great spot to finish the day or start the evening. The terrace’s surrounding parapet walls mean you trade views for shelter from the wind. But the great music and cosy feel make it somewhere you’ll want to spend a few hours.

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Customers enjoy a drink on the rooftop bar Dirty Little Secret.

Dirty Little Secret

54 Taranaki Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Step into a discreet elevator on Taranaki Street and head for the roof. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by an extensive rooftop bar. The bar is made from a shipping container, and surrounded by a dance floor, fairy lights, and panoramic views across Wellington’s entertainment district.

Dirty Little Secret is Wellington’s hidden rooftop bar, set right at the top of Courtenay Place. With a view worthy enough of an Instagram pic, get a spot by the glass windows and watch the city go by below.

Dirty Little Secret
Three cocktails sit in line on a wooden bar. Bottles of alcohol sit on shelves on the wall behind.

Elixir

8 Chews Lane, Wellington

Elixir is Wellington’s premiere bitters and Chartreuse bar. Found down Chews Lane off Willis Street, it provides a cosy oasis among the busy office and apartment blocks. It also boasts the only full kitchen attached to a cocktail bar in the city. Elixir caters to serious aficionados and people keen to learn about unusual wines and the subtleties of spirits. Its friendly and knowledgeable bar staff can steer you through the eclectic drinks list.

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A hand holding a pink cocktail inside KuiKui Lane.

Kuikui Lane

118 Victoria Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Tucked away in a little laneway off Victoria Street, Kuikui Lane is a bar with a warmth that doesn’t just come from its cosy size or low lighting. There’s a feeling of familiarity wrapped up in the quirky, yet classy interior.

Primarily a gin and cocktail bar, it’s Kuikui’s artful and subtle creativity that sets its menu and mixology apart.

It’s also unique in its ingredient choices — all the bar’s food and drink products are from Aotearoa, showcasing the breadth and quality of locally made.

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2 yellow cocktails on a wooden bar in Hawthorn Lounge.

Hawthorn Lounge

82 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington

With a 1920s speakeasy or gentlemen’s lounge vibe, Hawthorn Lounge is a hidden gem you must seek out.

Head through the unmarked doorway, go up the stairs and you’ll find a swanky spot where the bartenders really know their cocktails. Sit at the bar as the staff entertain you with a history lesson on your favourite cocktail. Or, nab a leather couch by the open fire and relax as they concert your own bespoke drink.

Hawthorn Lounge
4 tap drinks inside Mean Doses taproom. Galaga, Mean IPA, Mean Juice, and Mean NZ PILS.

Mean Doses Taproom

66 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Started by Wellington couple Kerry and Dean, Mean Doses is a local craft brewery. What began in a basement is now a fully-fledged bar and taproom on Tory Street.

A lineup of taps pours Mean Doses’ classic brews, alongside some exclusive house beers. A small selection of wine, gin, and single-malt whisky will tempt non-beer drinkers. Cool and casual, the space is upstairs from Mabel’s restaurant, which provides the bar snacks. A mix of classics and intriguing Burmese dishes are great nibbles. You’ll need to stay fuelled, as there are games galore. Challenge your friends to pinball, pool, shuffleboard, or classic arcade games.

Mean Doses