Christchurch’s late-night scene is booming, with many new bars opening since the rebuild began in 2013. We take you through some of the best bars for a first date, from sophisticated cocktail lounges to watering holes based in buses or shipping containers.
Funk alert! This edgy, eclectic shipping container bar repurposes old materials and transforms them into something new and cool. Fireplaces and TVs are turned into tables, vintage steamer trunks and shopping trolleys are transformed into chairs; a reassembled junkyard car becomes a surprisingly comfy sofa (for once, it really is OK to drink and drive). But you and your date would be justified in coming just for the music: Revival’s DJs and three-piece bands play anything from retro mashups to old school hip hop.
Self-styled “craft beer sanctuary” Volstead is a laid-back urban hangout that pulls off the tricky balancing act of being both cool and unpretentious. Ask your date to claim one of the vintage couches while you head to the bar to order an organic raspberry sour Pilsner, a whitebait-infused pale ale or Kereru Brewing Company’s Imperial Nibs, (described by Volstead staff as “liquid Bounty Bar”). And it’s not all about the beer: you’ll love the live music and the sensational bar snacks. Our top picks include pork belly crackling, churros and the best onion rings in Christchurch.
Skull-embossed wallpaper doesn’t exactly shout “date night”, but you won’t regret having one for the road – or two, or three – at King of Snake. With its sensual, luxurious atmosphere, Southeast Asian menu and excellent wine list, this buzzy bar has helped to kickstart the rebirth of Christchurch’s nightlife. Be warned: it can get loud – flirt rather than talk.
If you’re new to Christchurch, there’s nowhere better to experience the spirit of the rebuild than Smash Palace. The owner’s original bar was destroyed in the quakes, but it has been replaced by a unfancy but characterful bus where staff serve burgers from a small kitchen. And not just any old burgers – Smash Palace makes its own everything, from the buns to the harissa, and claims its burgers are the best in the country. If you’re dating a biker, remember that Thursday is bike night.
Scored a date you want to impress? Look no further than Dragon’s Den, a sophisticated Hong Kong-influenced bar that attracts lounge lizards from throughout the region. Aimed at “real men and better women” – so let’s hope your date fits into one of those categories – this louche lair is a mecca for live events, from comedy gigs to dance parties to burlesque cocktail evenings. If the soft shell crab ramen is off the menu, you won’t regret ordering a burger.
If your date’s profile mentions a fondness for hard liquor, head immediately to The Last Word. This cosy whiskey and cocktail lounge has super-friendly staff, a stylishly retro bar and a great location in beautiful New Regent Street. If you’re not a whisky drinker, you can’t go wrong with The Last Word’s Negroni.