The beer lover’s guide to Dunedin

Being a University town, there is no shortage of places in Dunedin, New Zealand that make beer, including, I’m sure, plenty of students making their own home brew.

Taking pride of place is Dunedin’s Speight’s Brewery. Since 1876, the Speight’s Brewery has been supplying the city’s residents, and the world, with some mighty fine beers, including the iconic ‘pride of the south’.

The hour and a half Speight’s Brewery tour of the working brewery and museum is a popular tourist attraction. Most of this popularity, however, is due to the fact that the each tour concludes with a tasting of seven of Speight’s finest brews in the adjoining private Heritage Bar.

Local microbreweries such as Emerson, McDuff, and the certified organic Green Man don’t offer brewery tours, but their beers can be purchased onsite or tasted at the many pubs around Dunedin (as well as the rest of New Zealand).

For a quintessential Dunedin pub experience, why not check out one (or even all) of the following craft pubs – the tonic (a runner-up in the 2011 Brew and Brewer’s Peoples Choice Awards for best beer venues in New Zealand), the Albar, and the Metro – all of which are located within walking distance of each other in the Octagon, Dunedin’s bustling city center.

But while there’s plenty to see and do in Dunedin, no visit would be complete without a road trip or two to explore the surrounding region.

Pack a picnic lunch (the Farmer’s market outside the picturesque Dunedin Train Station on Saturday mornings provides plenty of fresh foods to choose from), collect a few bottles of local beer from the pub or bottle shop, and head for the hills or the sea.

To the east is the Otago Peninisula, considered by many to be the wildlife capital of New Zealand.  Yellow Eyed Penguins, Hooker Sea Lions, and Royal Albatross’s make their home in the hidden coves and beaches of the Peninsula. And atop the hill, overlooking it all is the fascinating Larnach Castle.

To the west is the Otago Rail Trail with its numerous historic gold mining towns, many with their original pubs still standing.

You could pedal your way around in 3 to 4 days, staying at many of the historic hotels along the way.

However, an easier and quicker option for those short of time would be driving along Route 85 to St Bathans for a drink at the infamous Vulcan Hotel and the Royal Hotel at nearby Naseby where you can also have a go at curling.

To the south is moonshine country, easily reached by driving along the so-called ‘Presidential Highway’ between the towns of Clinton and Gore. The region’s colorful history of illicit stills and moonshine runners can be discovered at Gore’s Hokonui Moonshine Museum.

Better still, why not show up in February and participate in New Zealand’s Moonshine Festival.


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  1. Tracey Charleston Reply