Woof! making noise in Dunedin

Josh Thomas and Dudley Benson’s cocktail lounge Woof! is home Dunedin’s colourful community. Picking up OneMusic’s Outstanding Ambience & Design award at the Otago Hospitality Awards last year, the pair also went on to pick up five awards including supreme establishment as well as accolades for their staff.

Part pub, part cocktail lounge, part diner – Woof’s ambience and offerings are adapted to the diverse community of people that walk through their doors each week.

Woof was developed as a dynamic, personable, and fun bar with community in mind. It's a space both Josh and Dudley admit they created for themselves and their friends.  

A pop-up bar for a fridge festival is where the spark for a Dunedin space came to life and ever since its opening in 2020, Woof’s colourful community has evolved naturally. 

After years working in TV, events, design and the arts, Josh was fed up with the irregularity of working in the arts and being no stranger to working with hospitality at night, delved straight in.

“I think we knew Dunedin needed a bar like this,” says Josh. “We always felt like there was a need, but now we know now there was a huge need.”

Josh says they knew the city needed somewhere inclusive that also had a personal approach.  

While the lounge is known for its delicious cocktails and house-made snacks with diverse flavours, they also have what Josh describes as “probably the queerest playlist you’ll find in Aotearoa.”

For Woof, music in the venue is completely critical.

You notice the entire atmosphere changes when you alter the music, or it drops out

“We love that people get some much enjoyment out of it, it defines the mood and high energy picks up...we even have a calm-it-down playlist when things get a little bit rowdy,” says Josh.

With Dudley’s music background as an acclaimed composer, producer and performer, he curates and updates the playlists with a little bit of everything every week. “We play everything - we like to think our music is just as diverse as our patrons. From rock n roll, avant-garde, ABBA, anthems, and everything in between, people love it.”

People from all walks of life find something in the music, and we have some amazing feedback

Opening right before the first nationwide lockdown in 2020, they say one of the biggest learnings has been to roll with what is going to happen – day in and day out.

Remaining respectful of the rules and regulations at the time, Josh says above all, the team have felt lucky to be surrounded and supported by kind, pragmatic people and a tightknit community.

“We’ve grown some beautiful relationships with regulars and our staff, there so many lovely people in Dunedin.”

Looking ahead, the team are excited to add more elements to the design of the space, keep the slick service steady, sustainable and continue to tweak elements of the bar as they grow and learn.

Woof! are situated in Ōtepoti (Dunedin) 368 Moray Place (corner Lower, Stuart Street). Pop in to see Josh and Dudley for a drink and a yarn!


Learn more about the music licences we have available for your business here.