11 Craft Beer Destinations To Add To Your South Island Getaway

A staff member pulling a pint of craft beer behind the counter at B.Effect in Wanaka.

Few things top the feeling of sampling a local craft beer while on holiday. Lucky for you, the South Island is brimming with places to get your small-batch fix.

Words by: Jess Williemse 
Photos by: Nancy Zhou and Anna Briggs

Whether your vice is a pilsner or pale ale, hoppy or refreshing, there's something to tickle everyone's tastebuds. From sunny Nelson to Invercargill, here's where to sip on the best Kiwi brews in the South Island. 

Nelson Tasman

Nelson, Māpua Wharf and Stoke

It's no secret Nelson Tasman has a thriving food and wine scene, but let's not skim over their impressive craft beer places too. Golden Bear Brewing Company on Māpua Wharf delivers seaside views, flavourful Mexican fare and a winning line-up of IPAs and New England Hazys. Over the Takaka hill, you would be crazy not to visit The Mussel Inn. An absolute institution for all things good time since it was built in 1992. Family owned and operated, this much loved spot brews all its beers, ales, ciders and more from its small brewery adjacent to the Mussel Inn. Around Stoke, you'll find McCashin's Brewery, set up inside an old-school cider building. Pop by for a pizza and pint, or nerd out with a brewery tour. Head to The Free House to taste Aotearoa's brewing calibre—this independent church-turned-pub sports a selection of NZ's best artisanal beers.

A male staff member wearing a black t-shirt holding a tray of different types of beers to try at McCashin's Brewery around Stoke.

Kaikōura

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57A Beach Road, Kaikōura

The crew at Emporium Brewing offer the ideal blend of staple favourites and experimental tastes. Try their most popular brew, the 'Run for the Hills' IPA, or opt for one of the latest small-batch releases—apple strudel stout, anyone? 

Amberley

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12 Markham Street, Amberley, Christchurch & Canterbury

En route from Kaikōura to Christchurch, you’ll find family-run brewing legends, Brew Moon Brewing Company. Break up the journey with a stop for luxe woodfired pizza or a bite from the ever-changing menu. While you’re at it, sample their original hits like the Amberley Pale Ale or Darkside of the Moon Stout.

Christchurch

We might be biased, but it's hard to choose just one spot in Christchurch for happy hour. You're spoiled for choice on the pub front with Pomeroy's Brewery, Moon Under Water and Craft Embassy. All offer good vibes, tasty bar snacks and, of course, an enviable beer range. For an expertly curated experience, you can't go past Punky Brewster, where you'll find 23 taps dishing out the best the nation has to offer. 

Meanwhile, the taproom over at Three Boys Brewery is our go-to for weekend food trucks and a sip of their handcrafted goods. For the avid home brewer, the perfect afternoon is nerding out at Brew Academy. Their four-hour course will teach you the tricks to getting started, plus it includes a flavourful lunch and tasting paddle.

A massive fridge full of craft beer from across New Zealand.

Timaru

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7 Strathallan Street, Timaru, South Canterbury

If you happen to find yourself in Timaru, a trip to the town's only microbrewery, Ship Hop Brewing, is a must. Time your visit right as they only open once a week, but you'll be rewarded with a tasting of their staple range and the monthly special.

Lake Tekapo

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Main Road, State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo, South Canterbury

Take your Lake Tekapo getaway to the next level with a pint (or several) at Blue Lake Eatery & Bar. They offer a range of Burkes Brewing Co. award-winning specialties on tap, as well as tasting flights. 

Ōamaru

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Harbour Street, South Hill, Oamaru, Ōamaru & Waitaki

Ōamaru is full of flavoursome surprises, including its very own Belgian brewery, Craftwork. Their tasting room is only open for select hours, so schedule it in or sample the goods at other local haunts like The Criterion Hotel and Cucina.

Dunedin

Dunedin's brew crew knows what it takes to make a stellar boutique beer. There's no shortage of taprooms to hit up here, so we've narrowed it down to our top four. A short skip outside of the CBD, you'll find Arc Brewing Co, a haven slinging cosy vibes, food trucks and their popular Hazy Pale Ale. 

Over in Kenmure, Noisy Brewing Co. is kicking the status quo with their rotating list of experimental sips. Keeping on theme with the renegade brewers, you'll also find New New New and Steamer Basin Brewery & Taproom within stumbling distance of each other. Each offers its own distinct take on micro-brewing; New New New challenges flavour boundaries, while Steamer Basin takes inspiration from the region. 

A staff member working inside Steamer Basin against a brick wall and low ceilings.

Wānaka

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60 Anderson Road, Wānaka

Wānaka's food scene might just be one of the best-kept secrets in New Zealand. It's no surprise their local taprooms and breweries also deliver on quality. Up on Anderson Road is b.social, a chill spot where you'll find their signature Pilsner, plus the occasional cute dog. 

For a low-key afternoon, grab your favourite takeaway and pull up a seat in Rhyme and Reason's sun-soaked beer garden—ten different taps await you. Or, make your way to Ground Up, where the dream combo of a Crag Dog IPA and cheeseburger burrito does exist.

Queenstown

For a taste of the good life when it comes to both holidaymaking and brews, Queenstown has you covered. En route to Arrowtown, you'll stumble upon Canyon Brewing, the perfect pit stop for a tasty lager, mouth-watering grub and views of the Shotover River. 

You'll also want to scout out a pint of Altitude Brewing's range—it's the perfect way to sample the region, with beers inspired by the seasons. Try out their sips at one of the many winning pubs around town; we like to frequent Smiths Craft Beer House and Atlas Beer Cafe. Or, for the full experience (luxury Mercedes van included!), jump on Altitude's Twilight Wine & Craft Beer Tour.

The red exterior of Altitude Brewing in Queenstown on a grey day.

Invercargill

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30-32 Dee Street, Invercargill, Southland

Craft beer and pizza, name a more dynamic duo. You'll find both at Tuatara Café & Bar, plus their handcrafted cider brand 'Gadoochi,' made from heritage apples in Otago. With a few varieties available to try, we recommend going all-in with a tasting paddle.  

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Ally & Sid

The counter and coffee machine at Ally & Sid café in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Everything about Ally & Sid is inviting - a breezy spot for excellent coffee, tasty cabinet fare and a big side of sunshine.

Tramway Restaurant

Tramway Restaurant exterior.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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The Tramway Restaurant is somewhat of a moving Christchurch institution. Most of us have seen it roll past us lit up with warm lighting, filled with happy diners waving at passers by.

Brew Academy

Side view of a man pouring a beer from taps at Brew Academy in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury

Brew Academy gives you the chance to learn to brew, grab a pint from their tap room, and get a mean feed from Smoke ’n’ Barrel, who operate out of the same premises. There’s a lot on offer at Brew Academy, and good beer ties it all together.

Shopology

Shelve of warm winter scarfs at Shopology.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury

Shopology is a collaborative retail space, where talented artisans, makers and designers come together.