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North Island Nightlife, North Island

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New Zealand's insider take:

New Zealand has a pub-culture tradition, so even the smallest North Island towns have at least one watering hole. But for dancing, live music, and sophisticated cocktails, you'll need to hit the city. Auckland, in particular, has a healthy nightlife scene, much of it focused in the city's center.

Young fans of '70s and '80s dance music—and a few oldsters reliving their disco days—head to Boogie Wonderland, with its Saturday Night Fever–ish flashing dance floor (Customs St. at Queen St.; 64-9-361-6093; closed Sun.–Wed.). The Khuja Lounge packs in the hipsters, who groove to live soul, jazz, funk, hip-hop, samba, and bossa nova bands (536 Queen St.; 64-9-377-3711;; closed Sun.–Tues.).

Chichi cocktail lovers appreciate the mixologists at Match Lounge Bar who can shake up a mean poached-pear-and-apple martini, among other concoctions (Hopetoun St. at Pitt St.; 64-9-379-0110;; closed Sun.–Tues.). Beerheads, on the other hand, head straight for Galbraith's Alehouse, where owner Keith Galbraith serves up seasonal pilsners, bitters, and ales that he brews on site (2 Mt. Eden Rd., Mount Eden; 64-9-379-3557;

The neighborhood of Ponsonby, adjacent to the city center, also has its share of hot spots. The city's favorite (hetero-friendly) gay bar and restaurant, SPQR, is here, occupying a onetime motorcycle shop (150 Ponsonby Rd.; 64-9-360-1710; Another top pick is The Whiskey, an old-fashioned bar with leather banquettes, where the drink of choice is spelled right out in the name (210 Ponsonby Rd.; 64-9-361-2666;

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