After sunset the bar action is split across four distinct areas, with the waterfront and central city a common ground between the largely loyal Parnell and Ponsonby crowds. Be warned that Auckland can be quite unpleasant in the small hours of the morning when young people from the far suburbs spill out of bars drunk and rowdy. To avoid this, head to Parnell where the restaurants and bars are frequented by a polished, free-spending crowd, or for a more relaxed scene, head to Ponsonby Road, west of the city center, where you'll find street-side dining and packed bars. If you prefer to stay in the city center, the place to be for bars is the Viaduct, particularly in summer, or High Street and nearby O'Connell Street, with a sprinkling of bars in between. At the Queen Street end of Karangahape Road (just north of Highway 1) you'll find shops, lively bars, cafés, and nightspots including gay clubs. Not many venues are aimed at the gay and lesbian market in Auckland—that's probably because in Auckland the car you drive or your home renovations are more important than your sexual preference. The best place to scout for bars is the gay news site GayNZ.com. It is the best guide to bars and events; some bars have women-only evenings, but this changes often. Nightclubs, meanwhile, are transient animals with names and addresses changing monthly if not weekly.
There is also a growing nightlife scene on the North Shore—particularly in the upmarket seaside suburb of Takapuna. If you make the trip over the bridge, you'll be rewarded by bars and restaurants with a particularly relaxed vibe. From Sunday to Tuesday many bars close around midnight, and nightclubs, if open, close about midnight or 1 am. From Thursday to Saturday, most bars stay open until 2 or 3 am. Nightclubs keep rocking until at least 4 am and some for a couple of hours after that.