With beer the most popular alcoholic beverage in New Zealand it’s no surprise that the country is home to a number of artisan breweries, most of which welcome beer aficionados with open arms.
The first beer wasn’t brewed in New Zealand until the 18th century when Captain Cook, sailing his ship of scurvy-sick sailors into the Queen Charlotte Sound, weighed anchor and ordered his men to cook up branches of the Rimu tree and molasses to make a cure rich in vitamin C. The beer they brewed doesn’t sound half as tasty as some of the ones now being made by the independent craft breweries dotting both islands.
The tradition of craft brewing grew with the arrival of immigrants from Europe and the cultivation of hops and barley in New Zealand’s fertile soil. Today its beers are gaining a respected reputation on the world stage.
Speight’s in Dunedin is one of New Zealand’s biggest brewers and the tour through its historic brewery building is worth the price of entry and then some. You get to touch, smell and taste all the ingredients that go into making their popular beers, learn about the brewing process and then you get to hang out in the bar to sample all six of their offerings.
Tours are $23 for adults, though if you want to finish your tour with a unique two-course lunch you can buy a special alehouse package for $53.
In the North Island, Tui Brewery is located amid stunning farmland in the small village of Mangatainoka, and makes a great daytrip from Wellington. Tours take visitors by train and coach, or you can make the drive yourself. As well as guided walks around the brewery, there’s also a museum that visitors can explore at their own leisure.
Marlborough Beer Trail
If you’re near Marlborough, join this classic brewery tour run by Grapelander tours. Better known for their wine extravaganzas, they also organise a treat of a trip for beer lovers. Leading a group high above the Pukaka Valley first to admire the beautiful views, the trip then takes in three leading boutique breweries: Pink Elephant, Renaissance and MOA.