9 Great Places to Sample NZ Craft Beer

New Zealand has to be one of those places where one can live the good life on a short visit. The landscapes are mind-blowing, the local produce is plentiful, and the wines from Marlborough and Hawkes Bay are world-beaters. Now, one can add NZ craft beer to the list of fine things. Alcohol is not just a means for me to get high; if you hold the same view, you’ll appreciate this list.

These were the places where I sampled NZ craft beer during my working holiday. If you asked me to rate them, I honestly can’t. I didn’t have a single bad experience at any of these places, and I am confident the beers won’t disappoint you as long as you’re adventurous.

NZ craft beer on the North Island

Auckland: Brothers Beer

Set among some warehouse-like buildings just west of Auckland’s Central Business District, it’s a good introduction if you’ve just arrived in the country. There are 18 taps and 200 bottled beers from around the country and beyond to choose.

Address: 90 Wellesley St W, Auckland 1010

Brothers Beer | NZ craft beer
Brothers Beer

Rotorua: Brew | Craft Beer Pub

Brew became my “local” when I moved to Rotorua to work. It mainly serves Croucher beers, but it also has a couple of rotating guest taps.

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Address: 1103 Tutanekai St, Rotorua 3010

Brew | Craft Beer Pub

Hamilton: Little George

Little George started as a pop-up off-shoot of Good George, but it’s now a permanent fixture on Hood Street. I’ve also seen pop-up bars run by the side of Good George trucks in Auckland.

Address: 15 Hood Street, Hamilton

Little George, Hamilton

Wellington: Hashigo Zake

Wellington has way more NZ craft beer bars than the two I’ve listed here. Hashigo Zake’s basement space has a speakeasy vibe about it.

Address: 25 Taranaki St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

Haskigo Zake, Wellington

Wellington: Fork & Brewer

Fork & Brewer requires multiple trips to sample all 40 taps!

Address: 20 Bond St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

Fork & Brewer | NZ craft beer
Fork & Brewer, Wellington

See also: Craft beer in Singapore and in South Korea

NZ craft beer on the South Island

Blenheim: Dodson Street Beer Garden

This one will go down in my memory as the place I stopped for a paddle on the road to Kaikoura. It was a risky thing to do, and thankfully I was just buzzed. The beers from Renaissance Brewing and the German-style garden setting are the highlights here. Funny how it should all happen in the middle of Wine Country.

Address: 1 Dodson St, Mayfield, Blenheim 7201

Dodson Street Beer Garden
Renaissance Brewing
Renaissance tasting paddle

Christchurch: Pomeroy’s Old Brewery Inn

Pomeroy’s is an institution in the most English of Kiwi cities. While they have usual suspects from around the country (Yeastie Boys, 8 Wired, Tuatara), the house brew here is 4 Avenues. They also do a mean Sunday Roast.

Address: 292 Kilmore St, Christchurch 8011

Pomeroy's Old Brewery Inn | NZ craft beer
Pomeroy's menu
Pomeroy's sampler | NZ craft beer

Christchurch: The Brewery at The Tannery

Cassels & Sons also run the Central Business District Bar at the junction of Madras and Ash Streets.

Address: 3 Garlands Rd, Woolston, Christchurch 8024

The Tannery, Christchurch
Cassels & Sons

Dunedin: Emerson’s Brewery

Emerson’s is housed in a very modest building, but it has a couple of taps for its own beers. I dropped in to take out a few bottles.

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Address: 14 Wickliffe St, Dunedin, 9016

Emerson's Brewing Company, Dunedin | NZ craft beer

Some other NZ craft beer bars

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other bars and breweries that you shouldn’t miss if you’re visiting cities other than the seven that I’ve covered here, such as:

  • Warkworth: Tahi Bar
  • Queenstown: Atlas
  • Golden Bay: Mussel Inn
  • Wellington: Fortune Favours, Garage Project, Heyday, Panhead, ParrotDog, Tuatara
  • Invercargill: Invercargill Brewing

You can pick up a Craft Beer Passport to help you along. Cheers – and don’t drink and drive!