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February 23, 2009 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

2009 Bar Review

You’ve had your power shower, you’ve been drinking under the nose of your RA, you’re all dolled up and ready for your first big night on the town in Wellington…the only question remains: where to go? Never fear newbie first years! Mistress Mayhem and her merry mob of mischief makers did the hard yards in ‘08 to make sure that you wouldn’t have to.

salient09_00-coverWe’ve compiled a list of options, depending on what your goal for the night is. Read on, little kiddies and soon you too can be flashing your ID at the kind and genteel gatekeepers of some of the most fun you’ll ever have…in first year.

Where to get crunk

A certain group (okay, all) of you will have one aim and one aim only (even if it looks like you’re stumbling towards three or four) and that is to get drunk. While Mistress Mayhem doesn’t condone the overconsumption of liquor, she understands that some of you will have only just severed the apron strings and are looking to cut loose a little bit more. So, in the interests of full disclosure, the best places to consume the most booze in the least amount of time for the least amount of student loan dollars are:

The Big Kumara

No doubt you will be inundated with material about all the parties the Big Kumara will throw in O-Week…and every other night. The Big K is a first year rite of passage, and must be visited at least once. It can be counted on for cheap shots, Red Bull & Vodkas and excellent old-school party music in the Retro Bar. Tips: only dance on the stripper pole if your friends are, and never dance on the couches. The Big K is also a fantastic place to hit if you’re looking for something still open going on fice in the morning, or with relatively low dress standards, as costumes of all descriptions are regularly allowed in.

DownTown Local

More affectionately known as “The DTL”, this is the pub/TAB/sports bar/club that caters for the girls who have just walked out of Supre’s dressing room and the skeezy old men who look like they’ve never actually left that bar stool. The DTL has an excellent range of RTDs, cheap shots and especially mega-cheap, mega-pints of beer for the boys. A great choice of pre-dance destination, especially if there is a game on. It allows the girls to get a little ‘happy’ while the boys watch the game (or vice versa, we’re not here to reinforce gender stereotypes).

Shot Shack

Known for its $3 shots and $7.50 shakers (which taste like delicious), the Shot Shack should definitely be a stop on any first year’s town debut. Once you’ve had your fill of candy coloured drinks, make your way down the shifty passageway to the other bar (we’ve never discovered its name…) where you’ll find more cocktails and a variety of other inebriated peoples shaking what they’ve got on the “stage” or the dancefloor. It’s a good place to try, but its certainly not cost-effective for the average drinker, as the Shack is renowned for watery tasting booze. It still tastes pretty damn good, though. Use it as a final stop off before you go dancing (the toilets are clean).

Where to be scene

salient09_00-bar_reviewOthers of you will be far more into places where you can “be scene”. If you wear tight jeans, checked shirts/oversized t-shirts, Raybans and generally listen to bands that the rest of us have never heard of, then you should be headed to this next round of places…

Mighty Mighty

Indie at its finest. Odd hip décor, bartenders you wish you were as cool as and a range of bands playing that you can only find on MySpace. They have reasonably cheap beer and the clientele usually leans towards scenester arts and theatre students. If you’re desperate to be oh-so-cool, or you already are and you’re looking for more birds whose feathers match yours, your flock is hiding here. Make sure you’ve got your disaffected face on; it won’t do to look too excited here. Mistress Mayhem was supremely disappointed to find that they don’t serve any diet soda, so your best bet here is beer or wine…but that’ll only help your Cuba cred, anyhow.

Good Luck

Don’t be fooled by the dark stairs heading downwards, freshers. This isn’t a rave despite the loud music and slightly gloomy lighting. What it is, however, is the epitome of indie snobbery. Overpriced drinks allow only the wealthy hipsters to sit squashed at the little tables and scream their views on Kerouac at each other. Go to be seen, or out of sheer curiosity, but Mistress Mayhem wouldn’t recommend anybody remotely looking to have a good time to venture here.

San Francisco Bath House

SFBH is home to many years of lecherous legacy, but has become the cult stop-off for all the cool kids to check out the latest and greatest underground acts. There’s usually something for everyone, from metal to acoustic to comedy. Some gigs are free and most others are reasonably priced. Mistress Mayhem knows that the San Fran does a wicked cocktail and usually has specials on beer, so get your Chuck Taylors on and head on up Cuba Mall for the trendiest night of your life. Kid: you’re not that cool.

Where to dance

Most of you products of the ’90s are under the strange impression you’re good on the dancefloor. In our opinion, waving your hands in the air and shaking your butt doesn’t qualify as ‘breaking it down’, but we’re here to guide, not judge. Decide your style and then take your pick of these top places to dance…


If you are from Auckland (or you think you should have been born there and by some trick of fate you’re actually from Opotiki but you act like you’re from Auckland anyway) then I’m sure you’ll find home in Maya. With its bizarre interior (is it a bar? is it a dancefloor? is it a forest?) and LOUD music, this is the place every little ex-Jafa will love. It’s just like Met, except half as small, so you can sweat all over each other to the latest offerings from Ministry in even closer proximity! Omg, like, yay!!! Don’t bother with drinks here unless they’re on special.


If you empathise with Fergie or Fiddy Cent, then Coyote is probably the place for you. With a spacious dancefloor and a DJ who can’t keep to one Top 40 hip-hop track for more than 30 seconds, you’ve got the ultimate space to show off those moves. Extra handy: there are always some older guys waiting around to grind wit’chu. But girls, if you’re going to do the ‘slut drop’, don’t put your hands on the floor. It’s filthy. The only thing we trusted to drink here was water – and we watched the bartender pour it.

Boogie Wonderland

If by some mistake you were actually granted some taste in old-school sing-a-long music, then Boogie should be your ultimate destination. It’s got a funky dancefloor, reasonably priced drinks and in-built entertainment; it’s the only place people aged 40+ feel safe dancing. It also has comfy booths to rest your weary legs and songs you’ll just want to throw your arms up and sing to. The best part about Boogie is its secret entrance. Mistress Mayhem isn’t going to tell you where it is, but you will earn serious cool points if you find it…

Where to be posh

By now all we’ll have left will be a very exclusive group of ickle first years waiting to hear where they should be. Our guess is you’re clutching daddy’s plastic, wearing more Trelise than you know what to do with and wanting to go somewhere you won’t get your loafers dirty. Let us lead the way, preciouses…


Located out the back of Chow, or around the corner from Courtney Place Burger King, Mistress Mayhem has always thought this bar looked exactly like something straight out of 1920s Shanghai, and that James Bond should be in the corner. The cocktails are expensive but they are worth it. We had Cosmopolitans there and we felt exactly like Carrie and co. It feels wonderfully superior, the bartenders are cute (and knowledgeable), it is clean and there is superb food right next door. Not your typical first-year bar, but if you’re not paying, order up!


The bar with ‘the best bartender in New Zealand 2008’ – so you know you’re gonna get a good drink. It is very flash, very clean (despite being located on Cuba) and very pricey. You’ll get a nice drink and probably even nice food here too, but you’ll pay for it and you may have trouble finding somewhere to sit or lean. The Matterhorn is usually full of people, mostly men in suits and their accompanying eye candy. You can also spot the occasional rich hipster, but if you’ve got the money and the time it is totally worth a visit.. even if just to check out the best-stocked bar Mistress Mayhem has ever seen!

Hope Bros

Infamous in ’08 as the bar frequented by Law Students post–T-shirt Night, simply because it made them feel grown up. Well, it will. It looks fancy and exclusive and the prices certainly match that image. Located across the road from the Shot Shack, it is away from all the Courtney Place hustle and bustle. The clientele tends to be more those trying-to-be-cool, so if you are actually posh, this place may not be the best place to keep up that rep; we’d stick with Motel. Hope Bros is certainly worth a look in on your way home, at least. Well firsties, we hope you have a good night. Be safe, be sensible, have a spectacular time!


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  1. Moomama says:

    I like to suck @ the Kumera,
    I am a Hutt Valley Moomama.
    Suck on the straw ’till even more poor,
    for sure, and split-legg’d on the floor —
    Come fill up my puss crack bois,
    Let me greese you’re loins –
    Moomama’s a’coming 2 town.

  2. Alan Gillis says:

    Dear Mistress Mayhem,

    You’re asking the impossible when you say “be sensible”. Any alternatives? Many of your readers I fear need some sort of antidote to not being sensible. Something foolproof for the 80 Proof and under crowd? Getting mucked up on slippery dance floors, being all too vulnerable to advances from the slyly less inebriated, and then the very long next day of recriminations we can all do without. At least, dear MM, give us a recipe for the dreaded beast that lurks outside every bar, the monster hangover.

    –An admirer.

    PS Click on Alan Gillis to see the pitfalls of Aussie partying and other international student news, including a bit of your own indispensable Bar Guide in the online NewsHammer and NewsHammerOnCampus.

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