Dive’ bar cleans up act

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Queenstown’s Skybar is ditching its late-night-dive image – but not before it has one last brush with the law.
 
Owner Daniel Taiaroa says he’s investing heavily in a complete refurbishment of the Camp Street venue. 

It’ll be rebranded ‘Bungalow’ with a more relaxed atmosphere to appeal to a slightly older crowd. 

Taiaroa, who flicked troubled bar The Powder Room, saw Skybar’s licence suspended for 72 hours in August after incidents in 2012-13. 

But after more than a year of keeping its nose clean, police were called to the bar at 5.40am on Monday – the day it closed for refurbishment. 

“There were reports of people drinking on the balcony,” senior constable Chris Blackford says. 

The licence runs to 4am. 

“I wasn’t aware of that,” Taiaroa tells Mountain Scene on Tuesday. 

“We closed on Sunday and were clearing everything out for the builders, who were in Monday. 

“So I’d like to check to make sure it was people drinking and not just moving stuff out. Hopefully we can sort that out.” 

The two-week refurbishment includes raising the low ceiling, a mezzanine above the stairs, new lights, windows, flooring, communal bench seating, swing seats, furnishings and a fuller menu. 

Taiaroa says he’s wanted to refurbish the bar since he acquired it two years ago. 

“It was a bit of a dive bar and sort of always has been,” he says. 

“So we’re investing quite heavily to give it that breath of fresh air it needs. 

“One of the things Queenstown is lacking is a place people can really chill out and relax.” 

Taiaroa hopes to attract day-time punters, opening at 2pm and closing earlier. 

There’ll be less of a focus on house music DJs, he says. 

But it’ll still bring in big acts – the bar opens next Friday with top Auckland DJ duo Sweet Mix Kids.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz