11 Craft Beer Destinations To Add To Your South Island Getaway
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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.
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