10 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. 

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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. 

The Two Thumb brewery and taproom offers a (literal) window into their brewing activities, framing the view of rows of towering tanks standing shoulder to shoulder for patrons seated indoors. Meanwhile, the taproom over at Three Boys Brewery is our go-to for weekend food trucks and a sip of their handcrafted goods.

Lake Tekapo

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Main Road, State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo

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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10 Harbour Street, South Hill, Oamaru

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.

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

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 Steamer Basin Brewery & Taproom which offers its own distinct take on micro-brewing. 

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 x 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 Hazy and chicken tenders with BBQ beer sauce does exist.

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

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.

Invercargill

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30-32 Dee Street, Invercargill

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

Smokey T's

Flatlay of BBQ meat and chips on a table.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Expect the softest, juiciest slow cooked meat you’ve ever tasted at Smokey T's.

University Bookshop

Entrance to the University of Canterbury Bookshop.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury

Nestled amongst the towering gum trees, manicured gardens and delightful river, the University Bookshop offers a vibrant shopping experience.

Indigo & Provisions

Interior view of the historic windows and leather chesterfield at Indigo & Provisions, Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Indigo & Provisions is a specialised fashion store inspired by traditional work-wear, heritage styles and high quality.

Christchurch Adventure Park

A woman on a zipline Adventure Park in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Christchurch’s innately unique Adventure Park is a tranquil escape for those seeking more than just thrills.