Lonely Planet Writer

Six weeks of hoppy heaven for New Zealand craft beer fans

Beers crafted from bright and zesty New Zealand hops like Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka are increasingly popular at brew pubs and bars around the world, and from late June to mid-August, Kiwi beer drinkers will be busy celebrating the country’s excellent craft brewing scene.

Brothers Beer Orakei
Auckland Beer Week kicks off on 22 June. Photo by: Brett Atkinson

Beginning on 22 June, Auckland Beer Week sees NZ’s biggest city enlivened with a series of beer-related events, often also in conjunction with interesting food. The week culminates with GABS (the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular) on 29 June, the NZ version of the Down Under event that’s been judged the one of the top 20 beer festivals in the world by the influential Beer Connoisseur magazine (Australian beer fans celebrated GABS in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne from late-April to early June).

A summer of beer festivals kicks of in New Zealand
Hop heaven beckons for NZ beer-lovers this summer.Photo by : John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Standout events during Auckland Beer Week include tastings of NZ’s best imperial stouts from well-known Auckland region breweries, Liberty, Epic and 8 Wired – ideal for a cooler NZ winter – while Belgian-style sour beers from the tiny Craftwork Brewery in the South Island town of Oamaru will be paired with NZ cheeses. Top NZ brewery Garage Project are showcasing beers crafted with the Asian citrus fruit yuzu, and around 100 special festival beers and ciders from NZ and Australian breweries will be on tap at GABS.

NZ's summer of beer festivals begins
Kiwi beer lovers will be busy this summer. Photo by: Brett Atkinson

Across 9 and 10 August, the focus of NZ’s craft beer scene moves south to the annual Beervana festival in the nation’s capital. Packed with craft breweries and beer bars, Wellington is often referred to as the ‘Portland of the South Pacific’, and across two days NZ’s best homegrown beer festival will feature offerings from more than 50 breweries. Food trucks pack the concourse of Westpac Stadium to partner with offerings from Wellington-based breweries including Heyday, North End and Panhead, and Beervana is also popular with overseas craft breweries from the United States, Australia, Europe and Asia, all keen to join the party in NZ’s most exciting beer city.

By Brett Atkinson