• Vinay

Five quiet bars in Queenstown for when you don't want to party

Updated: Feb 18, 2019

Queenstown is known for its nightlife. Do you really care that much about it, though? Sometimes you just don't want to party. Sometimes you get old and still like losing touch with reality via alcohol like you used to. Here are five places to loosen up in Queenstown without the need to dance or raise your voice. At most you might tap your foot to the acoustic live band or raise your voice to ask for honey with your cheese board, not hummus, but that's it, we promise.


Basic (drinking) geography of Queenstown:

Most people want to go out in Queenstown itself - where most of the bars and restaurants are - but also you can visit Frankton (closer to the airport) or Arrowtown (one of the most scenic towns in the world and about 20 minutes drive north of Queenstown) for drinks. We will give you directions to all the bars we mention as we go through them.

Queenstown Bars:

Perky's Floating Bar:

One of the gems of Queenstown and right in the heart of things on the wharf, Perky's is a floating bar with two levels; a boat-top bar with benches, bean bags and blankets for when it gets cold, and a below deck option for those windier days. The views cannot be topped as you stare out over Lake Wakatipu and up at The Remarkables or Cecil Peak. Sunset is a great time to enjoy Perky's and the afternoon sun hits the spot if you've been out hiking in the morning.

Food Menu:

Perky's encourages you to bring your takeaway (Ferg Burger is always popular option) on board as meals aren't available on the boat itself. This is perfect for when you all fancy something different to eat but want to enjoy your food with a beverage together.

Drinks Menu:

Central Otago Wines, tap beers and ciders. Plus hot drinks and coffee.

How to do Perky's right:

Imagine this. It's the afternoon, you've spent the morning exploring and hiking Queenstown Hill or Tiki Trail. It's February and you're hot. You've been thinking of a cold beer for the whole hike back down and know you should have an early night as you're catching the bus to Milford Sound at 6am.

Now is the time. Now's the time for that beer. It will be sunny until around 8pm in February and you know you can mosey on down to Perky's, kick off your hiking boots, kill four pints and update your mother-in-law on how the trip is while staring at the remarkably beautiful Cecil Peak and feeling the waves gently rock the boat. Best yet, you'll be in bed by 9pm and that bus ride won't be so scary. You'll be fine if you get to Perky's now.

How to get there? Click here for location and directions in Google Maps.

Little Blackwood:

Also on the Queenstown Wharf, right in front of the TSS Earnslaw docking area, you'll find Little Blackwood - the best of both worlds. Mostly quiet they have both indoor and outdoor (with heaters) seating. There may be a small dance floor that evolves as the liquor flows and believe us when we say it's not too far beyond even your old bones.

Food Menu:

You can order (large) cheese boards and bar snacks (chips) or pizza (from the Italian restaurant next door) to keep you topped up.

Drinks Menu:

Fabulous cocktails and a great wine list are Little Blackwood's specialty, but you can also get a Heineken or choose from a tailored selection of craft beers.

How to do Little Blackwood right:

As we are already in the wharf area, go down for an early bird dinner with First Table which gives discounts on Queenstown's best restaurants if you eat early (think 5/6pm). Ivy and Lola's is a great restaurant, close by and on First Table. Afterwards, you can stroll over to Little Blackwood a few meters away and sip on a few hand-crafted coctktails all before 9pm. You'll be tucked up and happy in bed by 10pm, we promise.

How to get there? Click here for location and directions in Google Maps.

Frankton Bars:

The Fat (Frankton Arms Tavern):

An institution in Frankton and an excuse for a beer anytime you're passing through and can't quite muster the energy to go into town, The Fat is a welcome break from Queenstown's normally loud and high energy nightlife.

They have a large outdoor seating area, a specific dining area inside as well as a gaming room (gambling machines), bar leaners and lots of televisions to watch racing and other betting related sports. Note: if the All Blacks are playing when you're in Queenstown this can be a great place to watch as it is full of 'grassroots' legends that haven't seen a pub crawl in 25 years. Suffice to say you'll have a great time here if you're after a quiet drink.

Food Menu:

Full pub menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Drinks Menu:

The specialty is Speight's Beer; pride of the south and local Otago amber ale. They also have house wines and basic cocktails (think 'rum n coke' not 'Mojito'). Best stick to the Speight's in our opinion. It's a South Island classic for a reason.

How to do The Fat right:

The Fat is best 'done' on a Sunday afternoon in summertime after swimming at Frankton Beach a five-minute walk away. You will find Queenstown locals doing the same as Frankton Beach is actually quite shallow and therefore a lot warmer than many other swimming spots in Queenstown.

How to get there? Click here for location and directions in Google Maps.

Arrowtown Bars:

You would be hard pressed to find a really loud bar in Arrowtown, it's mostly quiet bars and nice restaurants but here are two of our favorites.

Fork and Tap:

With walls lined with historical photos and memorabilia, the Fork and Tap is like a museum showcasing the rich gold mining history of Arrowtown. And how many museums can you enjoy tap beers, Otago Pinot Noirs and a range of cocktails in? With a large beer garden to soak up the sun in summer, mulled wine and a roaring fire to enjoy in winter, a backdrop of vibrant coloured trees in autumn and live Irish music most Wednesday evenings, this place is quintessentially Arrowtown and not to be missed. When you go to the men's bathroom our friend's great uncle is in a photo on the wall. New Zealand is quite small :)

Food Menu:

Full and large menu including lunch and dinner, kids menu, plates to share and pizza. You'll be full, happy and glad to fall into your bed after this one.

Drinks Menu:

They are most proud of the craft beers on tap and also serve Otago wines and the occasional cocktail.

How to do the Fork and Tap right

Arrowtown is the start of many hikes from one hour loops to multi-day journeys. You can also gold pan in the area and buy souvenirs for your grandma.

Hit up the Fork and Tap for a craft beer after doing the two hour loop track hike named Sawpit Gully. Sit outside and soak up the remaining rays or in winter sit inside in the fire warmed front room.

How to get there? Click here for location and directions in Google Maps.

Blue Door:

Probably the 'rowdiest' option on the list (on Wednesdays and weekends) and we included it 'cos open mic night on Wednesdays is just a darn good time. The musicians are legitimately good and you will find yourself feeling inspired by an Irish rendition of a Guns n Roses song or the like. You'll love it.

Food and Drink:

No food is served. It's really more of a bar. Start your evening off by the fire in winter or sit in the courtyard in Summer. Also, a great place to end the night with a whiskey after dinner in Arrowtown.

How to do The Blue Door right:

This bar only opens from 5pm so we suggest you go here for a whiskey or wine before going to dinner in Arrowtown or to enjoy a film at the gorgeous little art house cinema just up the steps next door. Of course, it is open till 1am but this article is about having a quiet night, (right?) so unless you get carried away you don't need this info!

If you are able to get here on a Wednesday then do dinner first and then come back for live music from about 10 pm or so. You won't regret it. Its a well-known local staple.

How to get there? Well you should obviously look for the Blue Door but click here for more specific and less sarcastic directions in Google Maps.

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