Hokonui Moonshine Museum
Monday9:00 am – 4:30 pm.
Tuesday9:00 am – 4:30 pm.
Wednesday9:00 am – 4:30 pm.
Thursday9:00 am – 4:30 pm.
Friday9:00 am – 4:30 pm.
Saturday9:00 am – 2:30 pm.
Sunday9:00 am – 2:30 pm.
16 Hokonui Drive, East Gore
Currently closed for development.
From 1902 to 1957 the Gore Districts were under strict Prohibition. No alcohol could be purchased or sold within the area. However, it’s no secret that New Zealanders, who pride themselves on Kiwi ingenuity, often enjoyed a forbidden tipple, or two. The Scots-New Zealand family the McRae’s came up with a Prohibition solution that is legendary. Head to Gore’s Hokonui Moonshine Museum to learn all about it.
When the McRae crew immigrated from Scotland to New Zealand in 1872, mother Mary McRae made sure to bring the family’s copper and brass whiskey still along on their oceanic journey. An astute businesswoman, she began quietly distilling and selling her illicit whiskey to friends. Her premium product put watered down imports to shame and quickly became a sought after commodity. Distilling whiskey at home, the clan felt, wasn’t illegal but rather part of their Scottish birthright and a simple extension of farming. The tales of their run-ins with local law enforcement and cheeky distill and run tactics have earned them a spot in history as folk heroes.
The Hokonui Moonshine Museum opened its doors in 2001 to preserve McRae family history and the legend behind the bootleg whiskey that they distilled to quench their own and the entire region’s thirst.
While Gore no longer has prohibition and the McRae whiskey is no longer a closely guarded secret, this historical attraction might just be one of the most interesting, engaging and affordable attractions down south. For under $20 you can get a guided tour, a complete Gore District education and a whiskey tasting.The ‘Whiskey Wannabe’ bottles incorporate another NZ icon, Manuka honey. The top selling dessert liquor has a touch of honey and mint and is almost too easy to drink.
The museum itself is just as authentic as the whiskey. All relics are real, stories from the McRae clan are funny and insightful and keep people of all ages engaged. Chat to the friendly front of house staff from Gore District Council who can help you get the most out of your visit no matter how much time you have.
Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Nancy Zhou
16 Hokonui Drive, East Gore
Near Hokonui Moonshine Museum
St James Theatre
61 Irk Street, East Gore
Gore’s vibrant and electric cultural heart offers daily blockbuster screenings, live productions and a retro snack bar which delights visitors of all ages.
The Green Room
59 Irk Street, Gore
A hub for barista coffee and homemade Kiwi café favourites.
Eastern Southland Gallery
14 Hokonui Drive, Gore
Currently closed for earthquake strengthening.
Housed in the former Carnegie Library building in Gore, the permanent collection at Eastern Southland Gallery beckons local and international art fans alike.