12 Vulcan Lane,
(09) 377 1821
The ViewAuckland Review
4 out of 5
Just how far off Queen Street are Aucklanders prepared to walk for a drink? Judging by the trio of pubs along Vulcan Lane, the answer is not far at all.
From Queen Street, first up is the Occidental; once an Auckland icon pub, but now dressed up a Belgian bar. Inside and out it's standing room only.
Next is O'Carroll’s, a faux Irish bar that's only marginally less busy than the Occidental.
The last of the three is the Queen's Ferry Hotel—and with its authentic décor, and fascinating history it should be busier than it is. Drinkers of Auckland, (and thirsty tourists), please consider taking just a few more steps.
While the Occidental and O'Carroll’s have been tarted up with a bogus veneer of Brussels and Belfast, the Queen's Ferry Hotel has stayed true to its roots. Apparently the pub is the country's oldest drinking establishment, (the first beer was poured on April 19, 1865), and it's seen action across three different centuries.
Four people have died on the premises—it's reputed to be haunted—and the weapon that was used in the infamous Bassett Rd 'Machine Gun Murders' in Remuera in 1963 was assembled in the hotel's cellar and then smuggled out wrapped in newspaper.
Tonight there's no evidence of wannabe gangsters; just an unpretentious crowd ranging from a group of students becoming more raucous in the corner, to a few middle-aged corporate types propping up the bar. In-between, there's a big age range, and there's plenty of room to sit and chat without the clamour of the two pubs next door.
Ostensibly the Queen's Ferry is a Monteith;s pub, but there's none of the obvious branding like the Horse & Trap. Instead, the full range of Monteith’s beers is surrounded by retro Kiwiana décor featuring polished wooden floors and vintage pics of the All Blacks.
There's a smallish wine list, but it's diverse enough to complement most items on the burgers, steak and chicken menu. The music is songs from the 1980s like The Clash and Frankie Goes to Hollywood that you don't feel too embarrassed to sing along to.
Nearly 150 years on, the Queen's Ferry Hotel has more competition than ever, (a new Macs Brew Bar called The Vulcan has just opened opposite), but for our money the city's oldest pub is still one of the CBD's better pubs, and deserves to be more popular.
Queens Ferry Hotel has been reviewed by 4 users