No matter how many nightspots are listed here, somebody's favorite will always be overlooked. If you want a night with the work-hard, play-hard business crowd, head for Parnell; older, richer, devil-may-care types flock to Viaduct Harbour and its many nighttime haunts. A younger, funkier set hangs out in High Street/Vulcan Lane or at Britomart in the inner city; most of the all-night clubs, drag clubs, and gay bars are along Karangahape Road; and Ponsonby is a favored upmarket place for drinks, dinner, and a general wind-up before hitting the club scene.
If you want to check out the yachting scene, head for the Loaded Hog, Viaduct Harbour, Hobson and Quay streets (tel. 09/366-6491), where the pace is fairly frisky after a day on the water. Spy Bar, 204 Quay St., Viaduct Harbour (tel. 09/377-7811; www.spybar.co.nz), is Auckland's top after-hours bar for a sophisticated older crowd.
Minus 5 Ice Lounge, Princes Wharf (tel. 09/377-6702), is the "coolest" experience in town. Everything from the walls to the glasses is made of ice, and the temperature is a constant -5°F (-21°C), so make the essential booking and don your warmest coat. Crow Bar, 26 Wyndham St. (tel. 09/366-0398; www.thecrowbar.net), is a classy little rich joint that's trendy in the wee small hours. Honey, 5 O'Connell St. (tel. 09/369-5639; www.honeybar.co.nz), is a sophisticated spot offering over 30 varieties of champagne and New Zealand's very own vodka label, 42-Below -- the cocktails are winners. Opium, 291-297 Queen St. (tel. 09/378-0888; www.relishgroup.com), is a very sexy, dimly lit Asian-inspired restaurant and bar frequented by Auckland's aspiring cognoscenti. The all-blue Ming Bar is quite the place to be seen. It's located within the Sky Metro Building on Aotea Square.Another popular hangout for the who's who is the mega-night spot, Sale Street, 7 Sale St., Freemans Bay (tel. 09/307-8148; www.salest.co.nz), where you'll find everything from a restaurant and Yakatori bar to live music stages, a microbrewery, private bars, and a huge outdoor deck. They stage everything from comedy nights to themed parties.
Coco Club, 3 Fort Lane, inner city (tel. 09/309-3848), is an upmarket alley bar and hidden gem for sophisticates, offering vintage champagne by the glass and live jazz every night. Khuja Lounge, 536 Queen St. (tel. 09/377-3711; www.khuja.co.nz), is an institution. Its Latin/hip-hop/funk DJ scene is ever popular with the 20s and 30s crowd. And don't miss chef Peter Gordon's latest inspiration, Bellota, 91 Federal St., opposite SKYCITY Grand Hotel. It's a supercool, dark, sensuously modern take on a Spanish tapas bar. La Zeppa, 33 Drake St., Freemans Bay (tel. 09/379-8167; www.lazeppa.co.nz), is another popular tapas and wine bar in the Victoria market area. It's popular with the corporate crowd.
The Britomart Bars -- Development is ongoing at Britomart (www.britomart.org) and classy new bars seem to spring up by the minute. You'll find an especially cool outpost of Mac's Brewbar (www.macs.co.nz) at the Northern Steamship Company, 122 Quay St. (tel. 09/374-3952; www.northernsteamship.co.nz); housed in a historic building, it's got dozens of small table lamps glued upside down to the ceiling. They serve nine of their own beers on tap and have live music Thursday through Saturday nights. The Britomart Country Club, 31 Galway St. (tel. 09/303-2541; www.britomartcountryclub.co.nz), is the largest courtyard bar in New Zealand and comes with a kitchen and bar housed in steel shipping containers, plus a private putting green, a petanque court, and bartenders dressed in vintage sports gear. Tyler Street Garage, 48 Tyler St. (tel. 09/300-5279; www.tylerstreetgarage.co.nz), once a parking garage, is now an uber-cool industrial-style bar with DJs and a rooftop bar with great sea views. Agents & Merchants, Roukai Lane, 44 Customs St E (tel. 09/309-5854; www.agentsandmerchants.co.nz), is a sophisticated tapas and wine bar inspired by Britomart's 19th-century roots; and next door, Racket, 6-10 Roukai Lane (tel. 09/309-5854; www.racketbar.co.nz), is a great spot for cocktails. Smith Wine & Cocktail Bar, 20 Customs St. E (tel. 09/309-5529; www.smith-bar.co.nz), is a glamorous, over-the-top bar modeled on an ornate Victorian sitting room, where cocktail fiends can wallow in Rococo comfort.
SPQR, 150 Ponsonby Rd. (tel. 09/360-1710; www.spqrnz.co.nz), is the staple of Ponsonby Road. It has a great bar scene late Friday and Saturday nights; you'll see all sorts, both gay and straight, indulging in cocktails with fanciful names such as Horny Monkey and the Slapper. Lime, 167 Ponsonby Rd. (tel. 09/360-7167; www.worldsbestbars.com), is the smallest bar of all, and everyone, just everyone, is determined to be first or second here -- after that, there's always a queue to get in.
Sponge, 198 Ponsonby Rd. (tel. 09/360-0098; www.spongebar.co.nz), attracts a younger dance crowd; and Whiskey, 210 Ponsonby Rd. (tel. 09/361-2666; www.whiskeybars.co.nz), has a chic interior and is the best late-night scene on Friday and Saturday. The very popular Malt, 442 Richmond Rd., Grey Lynn (tel. 09/360-9537; www.maltbar.co.nz), feels like a local corner pub, but with more warmth and style.
Iguacu, 269 Parnell Rd., Parnell (tel. 09/358-4804), has established a reputation for hedonism. A business crowd tends to let loose here on Friday and Saturday nights, and it's pretty much a case of anything goes -- certainly lively, and certainly a pickup joint of the first degree. A younger hip crowd looking for good house music heads to Denim, 207 Parnell Rd., Parnell (tel. 09/337-0227).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.