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KaiOctober 12, 2018

The Spinoff reviews New Zealand #71: The bonkers mini golf bar Holey Moley


We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. Today, Alex Casey goes to the opening of Instagram’s most hotly anticipated mini golf bar. 

I don’t really know why I’m even bothering to write a review of Holey Moley when a fellow mini golf enthusiast summed up the entire experience more succinctly than I ever could. “We need to get into it now before we get too fucked up,” she demanded, urgently brushing past me with her golf club and two glasses of wine in tow. What a legend. What an incredible place. What a wonderful time to be alive.

Just like mermaid toast and waist trainers, Holey Moley probably wouldn’t thrive without Instagram. The mammoth novelty golf course slash bar is riddled with seductive Instabait, from a replica Simpsons couch, to a drink on arrival that looked and tasted like a Celebration Box threw up, to a bevy of local reality TV celebrities. Just as the sun will always rise, some of them are sure to return to the holy – sorry, holey – land. 

Soon to be the most Instagrammed couch in Auckland

There’s a lot to say about Holey Moley, but I want to start with a shout-out to the toilets. Specifically, the fact that they are stacked with deodorant, dental floss, Eclipse mints (traditional flavour) and tampons by the truckload. This is a mini golf joint that is definitely looking out for its patrons, including necessary but buzz-kill wet wipes everywhere that remind you to “stay clean on the green”. Between all the drinking, eating and golfing, it’s got to be a germaphobe’s hell.

As for the course itself, it’s overwhelmingly large and intricate. With Craig David pumping, drinks sloshing and Max Key milling under neon lights, it felt a lot like a cheese dream. Sprawling through the labyrinthian two-storey building, each of the 27 holes is themed. Chess. The Big Lebowski. Pinball. Something about a nana’s lounge with a framed picture of Jason Gunn on the wall. Some of them are easy as hell, others require more deft manoeuvres that become increasingly challenging as you, assumedly, get drunker and drunker.

You never know who you’ll meet at “The Mole”

I counted three different bars inside Holey Moley, which I can’t be entirely sure of because my humiliating child-size free visor was pressing on my robust and very smart adult brain. Upstairs, there’s a big balcony and a generous bar space free of any golfing puns (“no ifs, just putts”) if you want to just tie one on and eat your mini burgers and hot dogs in peace. I thought it was a funny joke to ask for “bubbles” at the bar all night, and at one point the bartender tried to crack open a bottle of Bernadino. The joke, swiftly, turned on me.

Here’s an even weirder thing though: my plus one, an Amazonian goddess, kept banging her head on things all night. If you are a person of stature, the low ceilings and hanging lights present an ongoing hazard. You should probably wear a helmet to be safe.

Low-hanging hazards

What else? The music was too loud, but that could be blamed on the the fact that I am 89 years old. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen Lydia Ko tee off to ‘Kiss Kiss’ (Chris Brown ft. T-Pain), which makes me think they don’t necessarily take the sport very seriously. If there’s ever any confusion about where to go next on the course, the many, many bubbly staff wearing loud pants can guide you through the maze. Later in the evening, I chatted to one of the bartenders who said he found the job by searching “fun” in TradeMe jobs.

I asked him if he was having fun. He said yes.

Where is the nose pleeeeease?

At $37 for all 27 holes, you could probably miss a few and go for a cheaper, more limited option. I was a huge fan of the terrifying ‘Crappy Gilmore’ hole (above), and not just because it’s where I met some of the Married at First Sight NZ cast. I liked it because it features a giant clown with a hollow nightmare nose, and it felt like the kind of mini golf I’ve only ever seen in the movies. Godzone loves an au naturel course with the occasional pirate and/or dinosaur sprinkled in, so I deeply enjoyed the commitment to being tacky as hell. Other highlights included the Operation-themed hole, and the Jaws-themed hole.

I’m realising right this second that all my favourites involved mouth holes. Am sure that’s just a coincidence and not a weird Freudian thing.

A vast array of drinks

There is no shadow of a doubt Holey Moley will absolutely kill this summer on the Viaduct, if for no other reason than its close proximity to The Lula Inn, Auckland’s most productive drunk person factory. I predict many young people getting mildly hosed during a sunny brunch, then hotfooting it to the ‘Mole to get their tee on. Whether they come back ever again is a different story. Just make sure you get yourself a visor that fits, because my head hurts today. And that’s definitely the only reason why.

Verdict: The most 2018 shit to grace Auckland’s shores, but worth a hoon for the incredible people watching alone.

Good or Bad: Funny and weird, probably “bad” but definitely good. 

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