Kitsch … you either love it or hate it. But in New Zealand, where so many bars are basic at best, the sensual overload that is the Wunderbar (in Lyttelton, of all places) is very welcome. It is also very, very kitsch. The funky front lounge is swathed in purple velvet, the pool table with red velvet, the bar is lined with bamboo and the “elusive” toilets – if you can find them – papered with 1950’s adverts. Wunderbar’s location – behind a supermarket – says it all: a corner of weird surrounded by banal.
Address: 19 London Street, Lyttelton.
Telephone: (64-3) 3288818
Part pub, brewery and restaurant, the Dux has its own distinct niche in Christchurch’s social scene.
Situated behind the Arts Centre in tree-lined grounds, it’s the perfect place for an afternoon pint of their own brew while sitting outside in the sun.
Address: Corner Hereford and Montreal Streets.
Telephone: (64-3) 3666919
Lyttelton likes its kitsch, there’s no denying it. Home not only to the over-the-top Wunderbar, but also this strange little gem of a restaurant.
Located in a gaudy red and yellow art deco building, with cheap formica tables and Mex-influenced menu, the Volcano and its Lava Bar buzz with an energy lacking in most city centre eateries. Maybe Lyttelton is where Christchurchians go to get their groove on.
Address: 42 London Street, Lyttelton
Phone: (64-3) 3287077
Christchurch’s outdated styling as Little Britain is nowhere more obvious than in its approach to pubs: that they still cling to a Victorian notion of Britishness is apparent on crossing the threshold of many hostelries.
Check out the stale-beer carpet, or decor seemingly designed with fistfights in mind. Don’t even think about the food.
All of which make The Bohemian, by the banks of the River Avon, all the more enjoyable to discover. The beech and brick decor create a warm atmosphere, the food is delicious (the antipasto plate is superb), and you can even sit on the street outside in the summer.
How very continental.
Address: 256 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch.
Telephone: (64-3) 3662563
Another chain pub/brewery, the Hog is a decent, fairly run-of-the- mill place – lots of hardwood, good bar food, and nice beer. But it’s when Thursday night rolls around that the place really hots up. Latin Night is something special in otherwise reserved Christchurch, when the small Latin American community come out to shake their hips.
A swinging band provide the thumping beat, and salsa dancers bump and grind on the packed dancefloor. Let the cerveza and salsa flow.
Address: 178 Cashel Street, Christchurch.
Telephone: (64-3) 3666674
Forget Christchurch’s (in)famous “Strip” of interchangeable and forgettable bar/clubs on Oxford Terrace – head to Sammy’s for a cool and laidback night out.
This place is hidden away down a dead-end street, so it’s one of those Swingers-style places that you need to be in-the-know to find. The music is pretty swinging too, and it’s buzzing at the weekends.
Address: 14 Bedford Row (off Manchester Street).
Telephone: (64-3) 3778618
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