New Zealand

Like a Local: 5 of the Best Rooftop Bars in Auckland

by Layla Turner  |  Published July 8, 2022

Rooftop bars have always had a cachet as venues for social gatherings – and in Auckland a combination of harbour and city views make these elevated spots extra special.

The Auckland cityscape (Photo: Partha Narasimhan on Unsplash)

Auckland’s best rooftop bars can be most found dotted around the city centre, with a few more sprinkled across the leafy suburbs.  And there’s no need to climb the iconic Skytower to experience panoramic views of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, as these rooftop bars offer guests the chance to relax and enjoy a brew with a view. Whether your beverage of choice is a craft beer or a designer cocktail, these renowned rooftop bars provide the perfect setting in which to kick back and enjoy them.

Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co. 

Perched above the Auckland Viaduct area next to the harbour is the trendy Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co. With unbeatable marina views, creative cocktails and even a bowling alley, this is one of Auckland’s most popular rooftop bars.

An easy-going yet playful mood at Rudi’s cultivates the ideal atmosphere for meeting friends, catching up, or even hitting the bowling lanes. The staff are friendly and warm and check in with patrons regularly to ensure they’re having a good time and have everything they need.

The heart of the action can be found on the spacious, sun-drenched balcony, which extends out over the marina, providing amazing sunset views thanks to its west-facing location.

Rudi’s also has its own on-site brewery where patrons can watch their beer being brewed, while the cocktail selection is no less impressive and includes espresso martinis, mojitos and quirky creations such as the Dark n Rudi containing spiced rum, ginger ale, blackberries and lime.

As for the food, the main draw here is Rudi’s famous foot-long gourmet pizzas and their bottomless Frose Your Way station, where you can choose your fruity flavour of Rosé together with a free snack sharing platter.

Their beer-battered Jalapeno and Brie Popper’s pair perfectly with a craft brew and the pizza options include Prosciutto and Duck Fat Potato, Wild Hog with wild pork & fennel sausage, twice-cooked pork belly, field mushrooms, & micro herbs, or the Veggie Vegan with mushrooms, onions, kumara, roasted peppers, rocket and vegan cheese.

Also popular are their free-range fried chicken wings, which come in bbq, hot or super hot, with ghost pepper sauce and served with blue cheese sauce.

Viaduct Harbour, Level 2/204 Quay Street, Auckland CBD

The view from Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Bar (Photo: Dr Rudi’s Brewing Co.)

Saint Alice

Also sat atop the Viaduct Harbour is Dr Rudi’s sister venue, Saint Alice. A sun-drenched rooftop bar and eatery with a focus on locally sourced seafood cuisine, patrons here can tke in sweeping ocean views and indulge in people-watching down below.

The seamless indoor-outdoor flow and relaxed vibes make it the perfect spot to sink a few early evening drinks and graze on bar snacks while catching a sunset. The interior decor accentuates this relaxed ambience, featuring natural wood furnishings, speckled with lush green foliage, and a light, airy, beach chic feel.

Patrons can easily go from sun-soaked afternoon drinks to an energetic all-nighter, as live entertainment is a regular feature here.

With an excellent head chef at the helm, the menu at Saint Alice is consistently commended for its mouthwatering and fresh dishes. A menu that takes inspiration from the changing seasons and local kaimoana (seafood) includes dishes such as spiced Hawkes Bay lamb rump, freshly shucked Bluff oysters and kingfish sashimi with sweetcorn puree and smoked jalapeno oil.

Sharing plates are the essence of Saint Alice’s hospitality mantra and include duck tortellini with orange cognac sauce, wood-roasted cauliflower with coconut satay sauce and crispy eggplant fingers with house-made smoked whiskey bbq sauce.

Auckland Viaduct, Level 1/204 Quay Street, Auckland CBD

Parasol & Swing Company

Run by award-winning mixologist Jason Rosen, Parasol and Swing Company is a casual eatery and cocktail bar overlooking the bustle of the Viaduct Harbour area. The venue’s two levels comprise of a laid-back, intimate dining space on the ground floor and a charming rooftop bar.

The atmosphere is laidback and mellow, with things dialling up a notch or two on weekends once night falls, thanks to live DJs and music. With the ability to seamlessly transition from after-work catch-ups to late-night drinks, the venue is big hit with both work colleagues kicking back after leaving the office and groups of friends.

The view from the open-air bar is simply stunning, with extensive harbour and marina vistas and the Skytower all dominating the landscape.

But there’s no doubting that innovative cocktails are the main attraction here, with artistic creations such as the Pornstar Spritz with vanilla gin, strawberry liqueur, passionfruit and bubbles, the Movie Night with bourbon, sea-salt caramel, popcorn and citrus, or the Toucan on my Shoulder containing rum, orange liqueur, absinthe, pineapple, cranberry, fruit loops, falernum syrup and citrus. Meanwhile some die-hard classics with a twist also make the list, such as nitro cold brew Espresso Martini or a Cosmoversial with vodka, cranbeat shrub, orange cordial and citrus.

The cuisine is inspired by a fusion of Californian, Latin American and Southeast Asian styles, with a focus on burgers, tacos and sharing plates. Perennial favourite menu items include the Classic Smash Burger with two smashed beef patties, American cheese, pickles, and garlic butter; Pork Belly Tacos with spicy pork belly, won bok, Ssamjang mayo and shallots and the Fried Chicken Burger with buttermilk fried chicken, Halong buffalo sauce, pickled daikon and yuzu slaw.

7/204 Quay St, The Viaduct, Auckland

The terrace at Parasol & Swing Company – (Photo: Parasol and Swing Company)

Brew on Quay

Located in Auckland’s buzzing Britomart area on Queens Wharf, Brew on Quay is a classic, modern craft beer bar. Set in a heritage building with a delightful open-air terrace, patrons can choose from a selection of over 100 of the best beers from New Zealand and around the world.

The converted historic building setting strikes the perfect balance between spacious and intimate, with charming heritage features and a laid-back vibe making it popular with after-work gatherings. The exposed brick decor is softened by the welcoming comfy seating options and the rooftop terrace is spacious, charismatic and modifiable to Auckland’s weather, with a retractable roof plus outdoor heaters for those crisp winter evenings.

For beer enthusiasts, the selection is vast, both on tap and from the fridge. The on-tap offerings include Sucky Monmon, a Japanese rice lager; Fresh Hop Nectaron hazy IPA with tropical fruit notes; More Cowbell Milk stout with dark malt chocolate flavours; and a hoppy Black IPA with pine and citrus aromas.

The huge selection of craft bottled beer includes Pilsner, lager, brown draught ale, American Pale Ale, Indian Pale Ale, Cascadian dark ale, milk stout, British strong bitter, London porter malt, Irish dry stout, wheat beer, sour fruited beer, Belgian blonde and German-style Weizenbock ale.

As for the food, it’s casual, light and tasty and can be paired easily with your choice of craft beer. Snacks such as panko-crumbed jalapenos with cream cheese and lime aioli pair well with Pilsners, and the Brew crispy buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce match delidiously with an American Pale Ale. The Wagyu beef burger with onion rings, pickles and fries is complemented perfectly by a rice lager and for a rich flavour combination try the porter and Angus beef pie with a stout.

Queens Wharf at Britomart, Quay Street, Auckland CBD

La Zeppa Kitchen and Bar

La Zeppa Kitchen and Bar is a modern industrial chic, contemporary bar with a Mediterranean tapas-style sharing menu. Their lantern-adorned rooftop patio area is the real pull factor and plays host to live bands and Sunday Sessions with DJ music at weekends.

A sleek, hip and happening entertainment spot set in an old industrial warehouse just behind Victoria Park Market in Freemans Bay, the rooftop at La Zeppa offers superb views that extend over leafy Victoria Park. It has a premium yet casual vibe and the entire bar boasts an exposed brick decor, bathed in soft lighting and dotted with iron candelabras. There’s also comfy seating in the dining area and an outdoor open fireplace, adding a cosy factor to the urban, industrial-chic environment.

The vibe at La Zeppa is urban, energetic and playful and it’s a great place for social meet-ups or special occasions.

The drinks menu is creative and dynamic, offering an extensive wine list that includes Riccadonna Prosecco, crisp whites such as Malborough Kopiko Bay Sauvignon Blanc, and full-bodied reds such as Hawkes Bay Trinity Hill Syrah, along with a wide choice of bottled beers.

Freshly prepared pitchers of Rosé Sangria and Pimms are perfect on summer days and the cocktail list includes classics such as the Mojitos, Espresso Martinis and Whisky Sours. Those looking for a more imaginative cocktail can try a BeeKeeper’s Blossom with Aperol, gin, Manuka honey, and lemon and egg white. Or for a sugar hit go for a Toblerone cocktail, made up of Frangelico, Kahlua, Baileys, cream, honey and chocolate.

The food menu is mostly tapas dishes, focused on sharing, so the best way to experience La Zeppa’s flavourful food mastery is to order several plates between your group. They are constructed beautifully and include warm olives with fennel, orange and thyme, pork cheek croquette, with apple and radish; Spanish omelette with parmesan, patatas bravas with spiced aioli, grilled halloumi with grape, green bean salad and baked polenta, with crispy kale and mushroom truffle.

Drake Street, Freemans Bay, Auckland

A view of Auckland Skytower from La Zeppa Rooftop Bar (Photo: La Zeppa)