Viewport width =
February 27, 2012 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

War Stories: A Fresher’s Guide to Wellington Bars

Salient considers it our god-given duty to provide the students of Victoria with all the brutal facts about Wellington’s nightlife. So, armed with only a pen and a napkin, Salient sent a crack-squad of its most daring writers into the depraved depths of Courtney Place to bring you, the untainted first year, the unadulterated guide to Wellington’s clubs and bars.

Kiwi Pub

This place looks like a provincial squash club, but charges like a Wellington bar. The older regulars are always willing to spin a classic yarn before invading your personal space. One correspondent from the front reported seeing a patron stumbling in draped in a New Zealand flag; our nation needs more patriots like this. Put simply: good as gold, mate.

Cavern Club

The Cavern possesses Wellington’s finest fibreglass Elvis statue. Themed as a 1960s rock den, the place is so underground that it is, literally, underground. Be warned: it is the hub of weekend hijinks for Wellington’s ageing public servant population. Work it or run.


Lotus is what the future was meant to look like ten years ago. One of the only places you will encounter where involuntary touching is deemed appropriate (it’s still not). The relatively strict dress code not only gives the place a false air of class, but allows the bouncers plenty of opportunity to discriminate. Beware the rapidly pulsating lights that make it difficult to assess any characteristic or features of the person you are grinding on.


Rain, Rain, Rain… Dear god. One correspondent reported leaving a drink there and finding that it had changed colour upon returning from the bathroom (pro-tip: never leave your drink unattended). Sight of a near-fatal stabbing two years ago.

Hope Bros

Many bros, little hope. Nonetheless, the selection of Rihanna is superb, as is the stage elevation. Your experience may vary.


Ivy is a three-storey labyrinth. Each floor has a different crowd. Salient recommends ____

Big Kumara

Cursed with an unknowably moist floor, the Kumara’s patronage has oft been described as a flock of rabid first years copulating to the pulse of electronic Satan-worship. A night at the Big K is the quintessential first year experience. The venue is divided into a ‘club’ and a ‘pub’, to cater to all of your debaucherous needs. When a coverband is playing in the ‘pub’, there is a 90% chance that the song will be ‘Sex on Fire’. For good reason.

Be wary: if you feel oddly compelled to buy tequilla shots, it’s not your fault – it’s their sophisticated indoctrination methods: Despite this, the bravest of souls will be rewarded with some of the city’s cheapest drinks(!).

San Francisco Bathhouse

Commonly referred to as ‘San Fran’, the Bathhouse is, for all intents and purposes, a large room with bands in it. And thus, the love of all music fans. The smoking balcony is the best in Wellington. Primarily for the reason it offers excellent opportunities to toss your chardonnay onto the unfortunate groundwalkers below.

Mighty Mighty

Renowned for its hipster circus atmosphere, Mighty Mighty is a great place to meet those dreamy people in bands that you’ve never heard of, playing dreamy music you’re not sure if you have. Accept it: there will be a door charge. Consider it a cool tax. Hosts an excellent quiz on Wednesdays.

Good Luck

Once described as the Mecca for those who wear condom beanies, Good Luck recently moved their bar to the side of the venue to make space for new high-powered magnets with which they summon Wellington’s entire population of sequin-clad females into their depraved G&T dungeon.


Bristol never fails to provide one with a jug of Tui. And that’s all that one should trust it for. One correspondent recalls witnessing a brawl there in which one fighter had a dreadlock torn straight out. It was swiftly swiped by a wayward scavenger. One source says: “A bartender once tried to fill up my jug of Mac’s Gold when it was half full with Sassy Red, and then make it out like I was a bitch when I politely declined, then threw out the half-jug of Sassy Red. Douche.” Now, now, Salient disapproves of this.


This place puts the “stab” back in “establishment”. A standard visit plays out like a game of dominoes with drunk women stumbling into drunk men. Hilarity always ensues. Luckily the room isn’t too big, so you can always swim to the sides if you fall in too deep. While the patrons fall clearly into the “after work crowd” category, nobody can argue with $1 wines.

El Horno

“When I was here once, a guy offered me $100 for him to take home the girl I was with.”

Boogie Wonderland

Operated like a ‘70s disco lounge, Boogie makes you feel young again. Unfortunately, many 50 year olds are there trying to do the same. Luckily however, the exit is so close that you can rush outside for a cheeky vom after that 5th shot of vodka. One Salient correspondent recalls bumping into his uncle there, wondering where his wife had got to.


Take yo gurl there. The drinks are expensive; show yo gurl you are too. But seriously, it’s like romance-central up in here.


Situated right next to Chow, Library is a swell place to stop for a post-meal drink–or three. With book-lined walls, and fluorescent street lights seeping through the venetian blinds, there is no better place to examine the pitiful fragments of your lonely heart over a martini, extra dirty.


If you enjoy poppin’ a couple of ekkies, droppin’ a couple of brews, and severe cases of throbbing tinnitus, then this is the place for you. One Salient corresponent recalls seeing a guy dressed as a pirate accompanied by two prostitutes get into a fight here. The prostitutes snatched his credit card and left as he scrambled for his pirate hat. Another correspondent bore witness to a man passed out on the couch with his penis out at 6 am. I mean, whatever. Still boasts some of the most massiv bass in Wellington.




About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (1)

Trackback URL / Comments RSS Feed

  1. Sylvia says:

    Where are Hawthorne and Alice in this guide? They are both better than anywhere on this list, except for Motel, which is tops.

Recent posts

  1. VUW Halls Hiking Fees By 50–80% Next Year
  2. The Stats on Gender Disparities at VUW
  3. Issue 25 – Legacy
  4. Canta Wins Bid for Editorial Independence
  5. RA Speaks Out About Victoria University Hall Death
  6. VUW Hall Death: What We Know So Far
  8. New Normal
  9. Come In, The Door’s Open.
  10. Love in the Time of Face Tattoos

Editor's Pick

Uncomfortable places: skin.

:   Where are you from?  My list was always ready: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, puppy dogs’ tails, a little Spanish, maybe German, and—almost as an afterthought—half Samoan. An unwanted fraction.   But you don’t seem like a Samoan. I thought you were [inser

Do you know how to read? Sign up to our Newsletter!

* indicates required