If you’re looking to party in New Zealand, Queenstown is the perfect place! Although just a small town, Queenstown has a vibrant nightlife with tons of awesome places to party around town. From bars with dozens of craft beers on tap, to Latin dance, to mechanical bulls, you can find it all in Queenstown! In fact, partying is one of the best things to do in Queenstown indoors!
But if you’re not local to Queenstown, it can be hard to know where to go. When it comes to finding a place to party in Queenstown, a lot of the best spots are a little hidden and tucked away off the main tourist drag.
Having lived in Queenstown for quite some time now, I can proudly say I’ve been to pretty much every late-night bar and nightclub in Queenstown. Some are better than others, and I’ve definitely developed my favorite go-to places on a Saturday night.
So in this blog, I’m going to tell you about all of the best places to party in Queenstown including special event nights, happy hours, and pub crawls!
Partying in Queenstown FAQ’s
Where to Party in Queenstown
Below are some of the most popular bars and nightclubs to party at in Queenstown. They were each hand-selected by me based on where I like to go, and where is always the busiest. All of my choices are located right in Queenstown town center and are easy to find using Google maps.
1876 is the go-to party place for locals, backpackers, or anybody who is budget-conscious for that matter. They have a $4 happy hour menu as well as some $5 beer and wine deals too! That, combined with their cheap (and tasty) food menu is enough to draw a crowd.
1876 is open for lunch, dinner, and of course, late-night partying. They often have live music or a DJ to get the dancefloor going. The indoors is for dancing with some table space, and outside they have a beautiful patio that even has heaters for outdoor drinks in winter! In the summer, this patio is the place to be for a few drinks under the sun.
1876 can get a little rowdy late on Fridays and Saturdays, but if you’re looking for a place with a lot of people and energy, it may be the bar for you!
Related Read: Having drinks at 1876 is one of the best cheap things to do in Queenstown – find what the other budget-friendly things you can do in Queenstown are!
World Bar is one of the classier places to drink and party in Queenstown. It’s attached to Yonder, which is a really trendy café in Queenstown and shares the same owners. However, instead of avocado toast and mimosas, World Bar serves high-end cocktails and late-night snacks.
World Bar is a place to go on the weekends or when they have a DJ. This is when you can expect a crowd and a lively atmosphere with dancing (although they occasionally have a cover charge.) On other nights, sometimes World Bar can be a bit quiet for my liking. With that said, I often stop in for one or two cocktails before heading elsewhere. You know, start classy before moving onto one of Queenstown’s underground nightclubs.
Their cocktails are absolutely delicious. You’ll pay for that quality though, at over $15 per drink it’s certainly not cheap. But boy, let me tell you, they are worth it!
The London is a well-known pizza place in Queenstown. If you’ve ever walked along Shotover Street, chances are that you’ve seen them handing out free pizza samples. But what most people don’t know is that this underground pizza place not only serves delicious pizza, but it’s also a fun place to party in Queenstown.
They often bring in DJs to get the party started after 10 pm and have a range of beers available on tap. The underground vibe and British décor make for a fun place to hang out. Often, groups start here with pizza and beer at their large tables before hitting the dancefloor. There are also sometimes special events for parties held at The London since it is a larger venue.
The Bunker is another restaurant that turns into a party place late at night. It is actually one of the nicer restaurants in Queenstown with good cocktails, but by 11 pm on the weekends, it turns into quite the bumping place. Unlike some of the other nightclubs in Queenstown, The Bunker is actually an upstairs venue (no underground basement here.)
If you’re looking to dress up a bit and dance in Queenstown, then The Bunker is a good choice! They also stay open pretty late most nights, later than other places around town.
Can you say “yeehaw!” Cowboys is a Kiwi’s take on an American-style country nightclub. With tacky country décor and a huge mechanical bull, it is definitely a different type of bar than you’ll find anywhere else in Queenstown.
Don’t be mistaken though, Cowboys plays all types of music and isn’t limited strictly to country.
Besides that, there is a mechanical bull that you can ride for a $2 donation, they have 1-liter glasses of beer, pool tables, shuffleboards, and a bumping dancefloor. It’s a late-night place that is very busy after midnight on weekends. In fact, Queenstown locals have a saying that goes” if you didn’t finish your night at Cowboys, did you even go out?!”
Rhino’s Ski Shack
Ever heard of Après Ski? Well, Rhinos is the place for drinks after hitting the slopes! With a European-style Apres-ski concept, this toasty underground bar plays great music, has cold beer (and warm mulled wine), and serves delicious pub food.
Rhino’s also has fun games and events regularly including their famous Thursday night pub quiz! Winners get lots of free goodies that sometimes include activities around Queenstown or even vouchers at places to eat.
Rhino’s is also one of the more affordable places to drink in Queenstown with nightly happy hours and food specials. They are open late and have a dance floor that attracts a crowd. They boast about being the only hip-hop venue in Queenstown and often have live local talent taking care of the tunes. It is a smaller more intimate venue, but a really busy and fun nightclub in Queenstown nonetheless.
Smiths Craft Beer House
This one is for beer lovers and my fellow Canadians.
So first of all, Smith’s has dozens of rotating taps featuring local craft beer from around Queenstown and New Zealand. The knowledgeable bartenders are more than happy to help you choose a beer, and they will even offer free samples to make sure you make the right choice.
Smith’s also serves the best Poutine (a Canadian classic dish that is fries, gravy, and cheese curds) I’ve had outside of Canada. As a Canadian myself, I know what to look for and Smith’s Poutine is delicious! Beers and Poutine is my kind of combo on a night out!
Smith’s has a large seating area inside as well as a covered patio outside overlooking Shotover Street. The atmosphere here is generally pretty relaxed, although it can get pretty crazy late on Fridays or Saturdays, or when they have live music!
Harry’s Pool Bar
Harry’s Pool Bar is the go-to place to drink in Queenstown if you also want to play pool. They have 7 pool tables as well as large TVs for watching sports including UFC fights. Oh, and did I mention you can get a beer for $7 and their pizza is delicious.
Sure, Harry’s isn’t a nightclub, but it’s a lively pool bar in central Queenstown that’s perfect for having a drink, a game, and a chat. It’s a common place for locals to hang out and you’ll likely meet some friendly characters here.
Harry’s is open daily at noon, except for Mondays to Wednesdays when they open at 3 pm.
The Sundeck is a rooftop bar that serves incredible cocktails and always features some kind of entertainment. During the week, expect live music to enjoy while you sip on your cocktail, take in the view, and enjoy the luxurious lounge atmosphere. And on the weekends, expect a DJ and bumping dancefloor!
The Sundeck is a little tricky to find. The entrance is simply just a door on the outdoor Queenstown Mall. You have to walk up a staircase, past the first bar (which is Attiqa, a really nice little tapas restaurant, and bar) all the way to the top. For this reason, it is one of those hidden gems in Queenstown that tourists often miss.
There is a cozy outdoor seating area at The Sundeck with sofas, plenty of heaters, and an amazing view. It’s really a gorgeous setting and well worth checking out at sunset and into the wee night hours.
This one is a local secret. Located about a 5-minute drive from Queenstown center on Gorge Road, Searchlight is one of Queenstown’s best local breweries. However, with great beers on tap, snacks, an outdoor patio, and a classic wood-burning fireplace inside, it has a lively and comfortable atmosphere that tourists will enjoy too.
Searchlight often hosts special events and games such as quiz nights. They have daily happy hours too. It isn’t a club, but a great place to go for a chat, listen to music, and of course, have a few beers with a local crowd. I often stop by Searchlight for a couple of drinks during the week after a day full of skiing or hiking in Queenstown.
Related Read: In Queenstown, you can party rain, shine, snow, or hail! In fact, hitting up a bar or club is one of the best things to do when it’s raining in Queenstown!
Pub Crawls in Queenstown
One of the most popular ways to party in Queenstown is on a pub crawl! Tourists often join organized pub crawls to take them to the best bars and nightclubs in Queenstown. This is a good option if you’re looking to meet other travelers and get shown a good time by a local guide.
There are two different companies that offer pub crawls in Queenstown, Big Night Out and Kiwi Crawl. Big Night Out has organized pub crawls every night of the week from Tuesday to Saturday. Each night is a different theme, but you can expect to visit 4 bars, get free pizza, discounted drinks, and some free photos! They also have special event crawls for New Years’, St Patricks Day, Australia Day, and more. Expect to pay around $25 NZD for a ticket.
Kiwi Crawl offers its standard 5 bar pub crawl every Tuesday to Saturday night. They also have a special ice bar crawl on Tuesdays and Saturdays that, you guessed it, visits one of the ice bars in Queenstown. They do group parties and even have the option to start your group event with a party cruise on Lake Wakatipu. Kiwi Crawl’s standard pub crawl is $25, whereas the ice crawl is $35.
Related Read: For another fun tour in Queenstown that involves drinking, check out some of Queenstown’s best wine tours!
Important Tips for Partying in Queenstown
- The best nights to party in Queenstown are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Monday to Wednesday are the quietest nights in town, but you will likely still find somewhere lively to have a few drinks.
- Some places will have a dress code. No hats, sleeveless shirts for men, or open-toe shoes for men. If you don’t want to be turned away, dress accordingly!
- Bring two pieces of ID. Most bars and clubs in Queenstown ask for ID from practically everybody, and two pieces at that!
- If you don’t have a New Zealand driver’s license then you’re going to need your passport. A driver’s license from another country isn’t usually accepted.
- Carrying cash is handy. Although most bars have a card machine, at busy places they often prefer to take cash to serve you the quickest.
- Head to Fergburger after a night out in Queenstown. Fergburger serves the best burgers in Queenstown and they are open every night until 4 am!
Where to Stay If You Want to Party in Queenstown
Nomads Queenstown is the biggest party hostel in Queenstown! It’s perfect for budget travelers looking to meet other people in a central location.
If you’re not into backpacker hostels, Mi-pad Smart Hotel is a moderately priced option also in central Queenstown that is perfect for bar hopping! Or, for a bit more luxury, head to The Crown which is the best luxury hotel located within stumbling distance of Queenstown’s best bars and nightclubs.
Or course, Airbnbs in Queenstown are another really great option. They are perfect for people traveling in groups and often cheaper than hotels in town. Just be sure to check the location carefully before booking, many are located outside of Queenstown center and taxis are pricey (and there is no Uber in Queenstown.) The Waterfront Apartments are a great choice if you ask me (with the best location!)
For more info, check out my blog about where to stay in Queenstown.
Must-Do Activities While in Queenstown
While in Queenstown there are plenty of other activities that will keep you busy… Honestly, there are so many it’ll be hard to choose which ones to do! Below are some of my favorites.
- Central Otago Wine Tour and Tasting – This is our personal favorite wine tour in Queenstown! It is one of the best values for money, for $204 NZD your tour bus will stop at 4 different boutique wineries in the Otago region that include a wide range of wine samples and a provided gourmet lunch platter. As you hop between wineries you’ll gaze out the window at spectacular views.
- TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise – This scenic and relaxing cruise in Queenstown is an activity great for any afternoon. The ship you will be cruising on is the Historic TSS Earnslaw and you will get to watch crew members add coal to the flames that power the vessel. Take in the mountain ranges and lush green valleys of Otago. You can also upgrade this tour here to include dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
- Queenstown Canyoning Adventure – Climb and jump off waterfalls, rappel, swim, and trek your way down a part of a Queenstown canyon with a qualified guide. This thrilling full-day activity is perfect for those who love adventure and exploration! As long as you aren’t afraid of heights and have a basic swimming ability you won’t need any other skills.
- Day Trip to Milford Sound With Picnic Lunch – This tour will give you the ultimate ability to explore the beauty of Milford Sound in Fjordland National Park. Not only will your guide stop at several impressive viewpoints on the way from Queenstown but there is also a Milford Sound cruise included. This small-group tour goes for $249 NZD a person and I think it’s a really great value for a more personalized experience.
- Extreme Jet Boating – Looking for a thrill? Jet Boating is one of New Zealand’s most unique activities. On the tour out of Queenstown, you’ll be able to zoom up the Shotover River through narrow canyons at high speeds and make 360-degree spins. Trust, me it’s epic!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to book a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (DTRAVEL5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Thanks for reading!
For such a small town, I think you’ll be impressed with the nightlife in Queenstown. Queenstown locals are always up for a party, and the excitement from all the tourists in town really adds to the overall party vibe!
Just take it from me, don’t head out for a big night of partying the day before you have an important tour or hike planned early the next day. Parties in Queenstown go until late, and you’ll want your hungover day to be spent doing something relaxing in Queenstown.