Often called the San Francisco of New Zealand, Wellington is the southern end of the North Island and is about an eight-hour drive south of Auckland. Itís an easy and inexpensive hour flight on Air New Zealand.
Like San Francisco, Wellington is very hilly. Many homes are built with private phone booth-like cable cars that hoist residents from the street to their hillside homes. It also boasts a San Francisco-sized cable car that is open to the public. A quick ten-minute ride will take you from downtown to the lush Victoria Park, complete with walking trails and spectacular gardens.
A Wellington cablecar overlooking the city.
As the countryís capital city, Wellington is home to New Zealandís national museum, Te Papa. Even if youíre not into museums, youíll be hard-pressed not to find something inside that wonít fascinate or entertain you there. Admission is free and its modern history department includes a section that documents the struggle for gay rights in New Zealand.


S & M's Cocktail Bar & Lounge - that's Scotty and Mal's, on Cuba Street is an intimate, two-level gay cocktail lounge. Themed evenings include pool table events and Karaoke. Regular shows, camp bongo every Wednesday and there's a DJ every weekend.

Ivy Bar is a large underground lounge bar & club and a focal point of the Wellington gay scene. Ivy Bar hosts regular cabaret-themed events and is known for delicious cocktails and tapas. The Ivy is now playing host to comedy acts on a regular basis from some of NZ's best comedians.

The Fringe Bar is a Gay-friendly entertainment venue in downtown Wellington. The Fringe hosts everything, from live music, comedy shows, cabaret, to poetry recitals and the like. Every evening, the bar features karaoke, so warm up your vocal chords and get ready to sing into the early hours! Food is also available and it's a fun and upbeat venue, which is a great place to take or make new friends!


Checkmate on Tory Street, Te Aro is a clean and safe place with a mixed gay and bisexual clientele. There is a large whirlpool and lots of cubicles upstairs and SM room with sling. Good supply of lube and condoms available. It's a friendly, no-attitude sauna with Darkroom, Nudist area, Relax room, Dry sauna, Steam bath and Video shows.

Emperors Bar Sauna, not far away on Wigan Street has the interiors designed in Roman style decor. This venue offers an abundance of play areas and private retreats, perfect for providing opportunities for you to find a mate! Theme Nights such as Towels Off, Buddy Night and more. There's a Darkroom, Maze, Dry sauna, Steam bath, Whirlpool / Jacuzzi / Hot tub and some Video shows.


Gay friendly accommodations include the Kauri Trees B&B, in a beautifully restored 1890 home. Itís owned by a delightful gay couple from Belfast, retired designer, Daniel McKeown, and his partner, Gerard Walsh, a doctor. High in the hills above Wellington, is the Koromiko Homestay. It bills itself as a B&B for gay men and their friends. The three men who own the home also run occasional adventure excursions. Its funky mattress-on-the-floor guest rooms are not for everyone, but it boasts a great view of Wellington, a unique outdoor bathtub with a view, and a penthouse skylight room where you can sleep under the stars.

The new and upmarket Youth Hostel Association New Zealand in Wellington is steps from the Te Papa museum. Itís managed by an openly gay man, Hamish Allardice, and very gay friendly. A private room is about 30 GBP and if you want to do the dorm thing, you can stay for less than half that.


Christchurch is New Zealandís third-largest city, after Auckland and Wellington. With about 330,000 people, it has the largest population on the countryís South Island. Christchurch is best known for its English colonial architecture.

Its gay clubs include Chameleon on Tuam Street, which is a good place for an evening drink with friends and Cruz located on the corner of Victoria Street and Peterborough Street - look out for the flying rainbow coloured flags. In Manning Place there's The Box a popular gay cinema and meeting place, open from 11:00 until midnight.

Christchurchís sauna/cruise club is Menfriends on Lichfield Street. Its a drug free no-alcohol two floor venue exclusively for guys who present as male and possess male genetalia. Facilities include Spa Pool; Sauna Room; Steam Room; shop; Tuck Shop for cold drinks and snacks; Satellite TV Lounge; Pool Table; BDSM Room and Dungeon incl Stocks, Sling, St Andrews Cross, Wall Mounted Blindfold with Cuffs, Bed with Ropes and Spare Ropes; Sucktorium; Glory Holes; Sling Room; Orgy Room (Total Black-Out); Public Porn Lounge Wanking Room; 3 Level Porn Theatre and Heated Outdoor Garden (and Smoking Space).

Gay-friendly accommodation in the area include Dorothy's Boutique Hotel and Restaurant which is a landmark in Christchurch. Built in 1916, this Edwardian Mansion has been lovingly restored to provide six ensuite guestrooms including the Queen's Suite with its private lounge. Dorothy's Boutique Hotel still features the original Gothic-style doorways, red brick and Banks Peninsula volcanic rock. If you can afford the luxury it is worth checking out, or even checking in!


Although it has no gay-specific venues, Nelson, on the north end of the South Island, boasts the sunniest weather in all of New Zealand and is known for its liberal, bohemian ambiance and countless art galleries. Nelson is just a 25-minute plane ride from Wellington. Just outside Nelson, Happy Valley Adventures features something for all adventure-seekers including a thrilling chair lift ride through spectacular scenery.

Go east from Nelson.
Gay friendly accommodations include the Wakefield Quay House, run by UK expat Woodi Moore and her husband, Johnny Moore, a sailing instructor. Woodi is the Auntie Mame of Nelson and a perfect host famous for her gourmet breakfasts.

The Mooresí good friends, a gay couple, Richard Hewetson and James Taylor, own the popular Te Puna Wai Lodge B&B. Itís just up the hill from the Mooreís place in an elegantly restored Victorian home.

For gay men who want to get away from it all in a country setting, the Autumn Farm is scenic 90-minute drive from Nelson. Itís clothing optional, and yes, itís really a farm. It is a very popular camping spot and has some rustic cabin-like accommodations.


Queenstown is New Zealandís tourist Mecca and is a must-see stop. Itís on the South Island, south of Christchurch. It is set on Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the Southern Alps and 310 meters above sea level. Queenstown is a thrill-seekerís paradise, with countless adrenaline-inducing activities from bungee jumping to speed boat racing.

The stunning view from Queenstown of the Southern Alps.
There are a few bars with a mixed gay/lesbian and straight crowd in Queenstown. The Bathhouse has some upscale drinks at the bar, Debajo is a 70's themed bar with some suitable music from the decade and Bardeaux has wine, whisky, a huge open fire, and tons of snow bunnies sipping cocktails having a good time.
Be sure to take the Skyline Gondola ride to the top of Bobís Peak for a spectacular view of the city. You can also take a luge ride around the peak. Gay friendly hotels include The Mountvista Boutique on a quiet hill but just a five-minute walk from downtown. At the other end of the spectrum, you can get a private room for two at the Backpackers Downtown Lodge for aboiut 30 GBP. That includes breakfast and the free use of one of its Internet terminals, but the accomodation is very basic.
The Skyline Gondola overlooking Bob's Peak. Bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand and you can a see a spectacular jump platform here.
Whatever your budget, you can find a big selection of hotels throughout New Zealand at special online prices from our partners Bookings.

Photography by Ed Walsh except Sky Tower courtesy Tourism New Zealand.

Part 1: Auckland

Tourism New Zealand:
Gay New Zealand:

Eagle (259 Karangahape Road, 1010 Auckland; Website; T: +649 309 4979)
Family (270 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland; Website; T: +649 309 0213)
The Grinder (348 Karangahape Road, Auckland; Website; T: +649 307 9191)
Late Shift Men's Cruise Club (Level 2, 25 Dundonald Street, Newton, Auckland; Website; T: +649 373 2657)
SPQR (150 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland; T: +649 360 1710)
Centurian Sauna For Men (18 Beresford Square, Auckland; T: +649 377 5571)
Moana Vista (60 Hamilton Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland; T: +649 376 5028)
The Brown Kiwi (7 Prosford St, Ponsonby, Auckland; T: +649 378 0191)

S & M's Cocktail Bar & Lounge (176 Cuba Street, Wellington; Website; T: +640 4802 5335)
Ivy Bar (49 Lower Cuba Street, Wellington; Website; T: +64 27 325 8306)
The Fringe Bar (26-32 Allen Street, Wellington; Website; T: +64 801 5007)
Checkmate (15-19 Tory Street, Te Aro, 6002 Wellington; Website; T: +640 4385 6556)
Emperors Bar Sauna (5 Wigan Street, Te Aro, 6011 Wellington; Website; T: +640 4385 4212)

Chameleon Bar (170 Tuam Street, Christchurch; T: +643 365 5648)
CRUZ Nightclub (77 Victoria Street, Christchurch; T: +643 379 2910)
The Box (6 Manning Place, Woolston, Christchurch; T: +643 389 4196)
Menfriends Sauna (427 Tuam St, Phillipstown, Christchurch; T: +643 381 1818)
Dorothy's Boutique Hotel & Restaurant (2 Latimer Square, Christchurch; T: +64-3-365-6034)

Happy Valley Adventures (194 Cable Bay Rd, Nelson; T: +643 545 0304)
Wakefield Quay House B&B (385 Wakefield Quay, Britannia Heights, Nelson; T: +643 546 7275)
Te Puna Wai Lodge (24 Richardson St, Britannia Heights, Nelson; T: +643 548 7621)
Autumn Farm (37 Central Takaka Road, Golden Bay; T: +643 525 9013)

The Bathhouse (28 Marine Parade , Queenstown)
Debajo (Cow Lane , Queenstown)
Bardeaux (Eureka Arcade, Searle Lane , Queenstown)
Mountvista Boutique Hotel (4 Sydney St, Queenstown; T: +643 442 8832)
Backpackers Downtown Lodge (48 Shotover Street, Queenstown; T: +643 442 6395)

Revised April 2017.


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