Thirsty Thursdays: Pubs Of Wellington, New Zealand

I’ve been to a fair few capital cities and a fair few pubs in them as you’ll have gathered if you have followed DSL and in particular my Thirsty Thursday Feature. This one, New Zealand’s capital had to wait till I was aged thirty, and though it’s full of pubs, a pub crawl was not in order. Not just budget wise, but these days i drink less and normally drink to enjoy the beer and atmosphere rather to get mashed up like a British student or a Belfast child in days gone by. I had nearly one drink in each of the below bars…

So I’ll post here my own pub experiences in Wellington, all within the city centre area, and all different in their own way.

BAR – THE THISTLE INN, near the docks

This a Scottish pub in Wellington, with the claim to be the oldest remaining pub in town. On a corner near the main bus terminal, train station and parliament, this cream coloured gem is every bit as traditional as a Scottish pub would be. Without the haggis, that strong Scottish accent, a few kilts, the Loch Ness Monster and bagpipes. And everything else stereotypically Scottish, obviously.

The pub used to be closer to the sea, but there is a lot of reclaimed land there which means the port is now further away and the pub is made to look further inland. A contrast to lands eroded away by sea, nice to have it the other way round here.

The pub was quiet on a Saturday late afternoon, which I found deeply ironic given that I entered around “football time” in Scotland just after 4.45 pm when all the pubs in the UK would be buzzing with guys glued to the TVs watching the vidiprinter for the football scores and the pools.

On the wall were many photos and memories from the history of the pub.

I watched live International Rugby League in there – from Rotorua, New Zealand were playing Papua New Guinea. The score when I left the pub was 22-0. It ended 76-12. The beer in there was relaxed and this was by far my favourite pub in Wellington. Well worth a wee visit. And for whatever reason, quite reminded me of a pub on a street corner somewhere in London.

Beer – Monteith’s Celtic Red

Price – $7.50


On the “grand” scheme of things this bar was pretty good. Friendly staff, a nice range of drinks and good value. When I was in they had shots for just $3 and all beers were $6. I stayed for one and had a Monteith’s Regular.

The barmaid was very friendly and attractive. A weird English guy came in at one point with a posh northern accent, he ordered a beer and a shot, drank them quickly and left. The staff looked bemused!

I watched Wellington v Canterbury rugby league match in there. Wellington lost.

Beer – Monteith’s regular

Price – $6


Actually I didn’t go in. I was just amused that there actually is a pub called The Welsh Dragon – Welsh bars are a pure rarity when travelling. Believe me.


One of the worst fake Irish Pubs I’ve been in. Littered with Irish Republican messages and flying the trickler fleg, this pub in trying to be so Irish neglects the very entity it claims to stand for. I popped in had a cider and that was all. I stayed in only to watch the live band. Ironically it was the exact same live band I had watched exactly a week before when in The Bog pub in Christchurch.

You can call me a hypocrite for going in, but I won’t go back in there again. Pity about the pub’s name too – as I had made the excellent “Molly Malone’s” pub in Devonport, Tasmania my local before. I liked that pub. I didn’t like this one. However they did play “Tell Me Ma” and “Brown Eyed Girl”, both of which I videoed, ironic that their only two gems come from Protestants in Northern Ireland – pin that on their “Irish Republican Messages” shall we.

Drink – Cheapest Cider Pint They Had

Price – $7.50 (ouch!)

Advice – Dont go in unless your name is Gerry Adams.


Again I won’t ever go back in there, and would not recommend it at all. Dark, dreary and overpriced. If it wasn’t for the $1 off coupons I had from staying in the hostel above I wouldn’t have gone back. There are some wankers working there, especially the bouncers. On the Friday night that I stayed there, I popped in for a beer around 8 pm, having just come from my hostel room upstairs. There was no bouncer on duty and I walked straight in.

Then a few minutes later a bouncer came in and I actually spoke to him briefly. I normally make a habit of not carrying my passport out with me while I’m travelling, normally it’s locked up or in a safe at the hostel. This night was no different. So I had just enough cash for the night and my photocard driving licence, in case I was ever asked for ID. Anyhow after a quick $6 beer there (even with my $1 off!) I went down the street for some food and drink.

Then later I returned back to the hostel, and saw the Basement Bar still open so thought “why not?” I’ll pop in and see if there’s any people around to have a chat or drink with, but NO. The exact same bouncer who I had spoke to earlier was a dickhead. First he asked for my ID. Fine I showed him my Driving Licence (which i have used in more than 30 countries as acceptable ID) and he said he couldn’t accept it!! Then I said “sure I was in here earlier talking to you”. “I dont remember” he said. Yeah right, dickhead. Then I said “I’m staying upstairs in the hostel” and showed him my room key and vouchers (its an over 18s hostel by the way) and still he wouldn’t let me in. Turns out there were only about 15 people in there! What a dickhead. Bouncers in The Basement Bar in Wellington – I hope you get what you deserve. Stop making nice people suffer on their quest to travel and enjoy life.

Beer – Tui

Price – $6 even with a dollar off coupon

Advice – If you stay in the hostel upstairs you are automatically banned, or so it would appear…


You can read more about my night “running with the unicorns” and playing “clockwise table tennis” in the trendy Mighty Mighty club. But it was certainly an interesting night and a random groovy wee club in the trendy Cuba Street area of Wellington. And on Halloween night as well.

Beer – Mac’s White Wheat Beer (me),  Castlepoint (Gywneth)

Price – Both were $7




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