A $3 million mini golf bar is set to open on Auckland's waterfront next month.

Holey Moley, a bar featuring three themed mini golf set-ups, will open on Quay St on October 11 in the location of where Nightingale bar used to be.

Themes run from The Simpsons, Game of Thrones and Flintstones through to upside down rooms and "Instagram-friendly" holes.

The concept comes from Australia, from hospitality-driven entertainment company Funlab which operates Strike bowling alleys, amusement arcades and Sky Zone.


Bars and nightclub closures have plagued New Zealand's hospitality industry in recent years. Funlab chief executive Michael Schreiber puts it down to a change in the concept of going out.

"People used to go to nightclubs and bars to hook up, meet other people and find dates, but people don't do that anymore because of the internet," Schreiber said.

"Just being a traditional bar, or certainly a nightclub, [isn't enough]. Bars have to have some real reason for people to visit... what we do is give people a reason to come - it's a lot of fun. It does also happen to be a great Tinder date spot," he said.

"Instead of sitting at a table and having a drink staring at someone and having awkward conversation, it's a great icebreaker."

The first Holey Moley bar opened in a repurposed Brisbane church that was later home to a strip club and a string of nightclubs in Fortitude Valley, two years ago.

There are now 11 Holey Moley bars spread throughout Australia including in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

"There are a number of different mini golf styles in the UK, and that was the kernel of the idea we used to create our own mini golf concept - much more of an adult social experience," Schreiber said.

"It's not really about hardcore competition. It's something to do while drinking."


Most Holey Moley bars had been opened in former nightclubs, he said.

Funlab has spent A$3 million ($3.2m) to set up the Quay St location, which will be able to accommodate 150 golfers and 300 in the venue at once. It will cost party-goers $16 for a game of nine holes.

Holey Moley is operated by Australian entertainment company Funlab. Photo / Supplied
Holey Moley is operated by Australian entertainment company Funlab. Photo / Supplied

Schreiber said Holey Moley had sold $130,000 worth of corporate functions ahead of its opening, and was confident it would be a hit in New Zealand.

Funlab was founded in 2002 and for its first 10 years in business ran only its bowling alleys. In the last financial year, it had a turnover of A$100 million ($108m). This year it forecasts turnover of $150m.

According to the Restaurant Association's 2018 hospitality report, there were 495 clubs operating in New Zealand last year, up from 489 and 468 in the two years prior.

The number of pubs, taverns and bars decreased last year, recorded at 1578, down from 1599 in 2016 and 1623 in 2015.

Pubs, bars and taverns are the only sector in the hospitality industry which did not experience growth last year.

Some people are happy with just a place to go for a casual drink but others want a bit more than that.

Russell Gray, Auckland president of Hospitality NZ, said the Lions tour gave the country's bar and nightclub scene a boost last year.

"Bars and nightclubs, particularly, got quite a lift during that tournament," Gray said. "There's no doubt liquor licensing laws are more stringent and overall business compliance is more stringent and so an operator has to be on their game to succeed in this market.

"Some people are happy with just a place to go for a casual drink but others want a bit more than that. There's a lot of choice out there and there's a lot of competition."

Gray said there was a trend to combine social activities with food and beverage.

"There's a lot of new venues that keep coming on to the scene and they keep pushing the boundaries with exciting new fit-outs and therefore the closures are more about old-style venues that haven't really reinvented themselves."