Queenstown drinking holes raise the bar


It’s all change on Queenstown’s bar scene with at least five established venues closed for overhauls - and a brand new one in the works.

The Boiler Room, Surreal, Vinyl Underground, Monty’s and Tardis have all closed their doors while they’re given a new lease of life.

Meanwhile Brazz owner Pete Jefford will open a new venue, The London, in the bowels of the former Outside Sports building on Shotover Street.

“It will be what’s called a ‘flatbread pizza company and bar’,” Jefford says.

“So not a restaurant but a late night venue offering flatbread pizzas.

“It’ll be very underground London.”

The fit-out will feature lots of booths, exposed brick work, tiles, and steel, with entertainment ranging from live music to DJs and recorded music.

“We’re trying to get open for WinterFest,” Jefford says.

Asked if it was a sizeable investment, Jefford’s coy: “I imagine it probably is.”

“It shows confidence in the Queenstown hospitality market without a doubt, a new venue from scratch.”

The London will open noon til late and likely employ about 25 staff.

Much-loved late night spot The Boiler Room, at Steamer Wharf, will re-open as stylish Little Blackwood.

Boiler Room owner Future Bars Ltd celebrates 10 years of Minus 5 Ice Bar with a party at Little Blackwood a week on Monday.

They renovated their other bar, Cow Lane’s Debajo, last year, becoming the popular Rhino’s Ski Shack.

Future Bars Ltd co-owner Jason Whalley says hospitality in Queenstown’s undergone a massive shift in the last couple of years - especially the last 12 months with licensing and restrictions.

“It’s about becoming a lot more approachable, affordable, and social, with a greater focus on food.”

Whalley says the name ‘Little Blackwood’ is a reference to the bespoke handcrafted furniture, including table tops of blackwood timber made in Raglan.

“We’ll play on that with handpicked wines, cocktails and food.”

The signature dish will be a cheese and meat board with Gibbston Valley cheese and Zamora meats.

“It’ll be a focus on early evening, comfort, approachable. It won’t be wanky, which some people think it will be, and I’m sure at the weekends we’ll kick on into the night with a good vibe and DJs.”

Whalley says the rebrand and refit comes with a “price tag”.

“But we see the potential return and think it’s going to be a great addition to Queenstown.”

Church St pub Monty’s has been taken over by The World Bar, while downstairs nightclub Vinyl Underground is being soundproofed and updated.

It is expected to retain its name, as is Surreal on Beach St when it reopens. But it’s understood Tardis, on Cow Lane, will be replaced by an Asian-fusion restaurant.

All the bars are racing to be open for Queenstown WinterFest.

Skybar on Camp St was also renovated and rebranded late last year, reopening as Bungalow.