There is no better way to celebrate summer's gracious and much-anticipated arrival than sitting in the warming outdoors with a delicious beverage. We’ve found 10 of the hottest garden bars where you can sit pretty in the sun and with a cold one.
1. La Zeppa, Victoria Park
A hugely popular choice on the Drake Street strip, La Zeppa offers some awesome views of the Sky Tower from it’s large outdoor courtyard. I’d give this bar the ‘best decorated’ award with their cute and colourful lanterns, fairy lights and copious amounts of vegetation that bring it to life in the afternoons and evenings. If you’re after a sweet place for some quality hang time with your pals, this spot is ideal.
2. Citizen Park, Kingsland
This is your Americana-menu-meets-Kiwiana-bar type of place. The all-season outdoor area comes alive on a sunny arvo with punters arriving in groups to experience an upmarket-Californian-diner menu, jugs of craft beer and cider as well as regular food and drink specials and entertainment. A great area of town with friendly locals makes this spot a easy choice for your garden bar outing.
3. Tyler Street Garage, Auckland Central
Walk into Tyler Street Garage and you’ll wonder why it's on the ‘Outdoor Bars’ list (it’s quite industrial and ‘garagey’ inside...in a cool way). But be patient! Just take a hike up the stairs and you’ll say “ohhh, that’s why!” The rooftop bar is a super cool, relaxing spot for an outdoor bite and beverage, with regular specials and DJs often playing too - the Sunday afternoon sessions are well worth a look. It’s a good idea to make a booking if you get a chance - this part of Tyler St Garage fills up quickly on a sunny afternoon.
4. Tom Tom, Victoria Park
On a sunny day, Tom Tom is a popular pick amongst the locals. Hosting probably the largest outdoor space out of the bars on this list, it thrives off the hordes of punters that come for its revolving and refreshing drinks list and modern menu. Check their Facebook page for event info - these guys know how to use their sunny space!
5. Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen, Victoria Park
What was once the home of Sale Street bar has laid the foundations for Sweat Shop Brew Bar and Kitchen. It’s a boutique brewery with a kitchen that “never sleeps” and which holds live music every Friday. The staff even claim that they are “the hardest working in the city”. The beer is great, the food is delicious and homely, and the deck is up there with the best in the city for lunch in the sun - well worth popping along to for basking in the sun, drinking, eating and/or dancing.
6. The Birdcage Restaurant, Freemans Bay
The Birdcage went through quite a lengthy process for it to be saved during the building of the Victoria Park Motorway Underpass, but now the 127-year-old (and counting) building is back and better than before. With an extended outdoor garden bar looking out to Victoria Park, the area catches plenty of sun from high noon to sunset. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and with brunch served on the weekends, it’s perfect for a lunch break bite or long session.
7. The Elephant Wrestler, Takapuna
This is your classic Kiwi gastropub and beer garden. A retractable roof transforms the garden restaurant/bar area into a sun-drenched playground for punters to soak up the rays, nibble, sip and kick back to great tunes. In the later half of the week there’s always drink and food specials, including burger and a pint days, steak nights, catch of the day Fridays, and salad and bubbles days on Saturdays for the girls. It’s a popular destination in Takapuna whether the sun's out or not, so consider making a booking!
8. Neighbourhood Brewbar, Kingsland
Neighbourhood is always busy and always fun - and they’ve been holding that standard for sometime now! This is a real ‘punters/locals/casual/mates’ place, with jugs of every kind of Macs beer on tap and a perfect menu showcasing quality bar food (the ‘better than pub food kind’, know what I mean?) An easy and good choice on this list.
9. Libertine, Victoria Park
Out of the 10 bars on this list Libertine takes home the trophy for best menu. It really is the best of all worlds here - with the top-notch menu, a cozy deck and great beverage choices (the cocktails in particular), as well as DJs playing regularly in the evenings. Another perfect spot for drinks, food and laughs in summer.
10. Jack Tar, Victoria Park
Though I wouldn’t call the area a garden bar as such, Jack Tar’s outside seating on North Wharf would still have to be some of the most desirable on a sunny day in the city. The place is busy enough to give it a ‘place to be’ vibe, but not so hectic that it makes your seaside/wharf beverage sipping session unenjoyable. All the classic beers are on tap with a few very nice Australian beers to mix things up. The foods here is great too - I would call it…’comfort food with flair’…very delicious.