Go to Wellington, New Zealand, for the world-class food; stay for the award-winning beers.

“There’s no other city in the world where you can walk less than 50 metres between multiple, award-winning breweries,” says Steph Coutts from Craft Beer College, a beer tour and tasting company based in Wellington. While the city is known as the culinary capital of New Zealand, its thriving craft beer scene is drawing a whole new crowd. Pete Gillespie, head brewer at Garage Project, reckons there’s something for everyone. “It has fantastic restaurants, lots of cafés and the most vibrant brewing scene,” he says.

The breweries

Garage Project

Wellington’s original craft brewery had a humble start. “We didn’t have a lot of money so we found this old, disused service station in Aro Valley and started on a tiny home brew kit,” says Gillespie. The team released small-batch brews every week for the first six months and has remained experimental since. “From clean, crisp, classic lagers, extravagantly hopped IPAs and fruited sour beers, all the way to barrel-aged dessert stouts, we brew them all.” There are now three locations: the inner-city suburban 91 Aro taproom for a pint, nearby Aro Cellar Door for tastings and the Wild Workshop Cellar Door in the CBD.

Heyday Beer Co

An easy stroll from Garage Project’s 91 Aro taproom in Aro Valley, Heyday feels like a place where the locals drink. There are 13 regularly changing taps – order the tropical New England IPA, Soul Cat, to start – and the vibe is fun and relaxed. Sit among the vats inside the brewery or venture outside, where there are fairy lights and picnic tables (although the famous Wellington winds can make it pretty chilly in winter).

Fortune Favours

Located just off Cuba Street and Hannahs Laneway in Te Aro, Fortune Favours is named after the leap of faith its owners took when opening the brewpub back in 2016. There are 15 taps, all pouring Fortune Favours beers – try the standout Wellingtonian XPA – plus a meat and cheese counter where the team will help you pair your choice of food with the right beverage.

The restaurants


Rita, New Zealand

Right next door to the 91 Aro taproom, Rita is set inside a tiny former worker’s cottage. The intimate eatery has a new three-course menu every night, with a focus on seasonal, local ingredients, so you won’t know what’s on offer until you get there. Dishes have included pan-fried snapper with saffron, tomato and shallot, followed by meringue with rhubarb and buttermilk sherbet served with strawberry in marsala.


Open only for dinner from Wednesday to Friday, Hiakai in Mount Cook showcases Māori and Polynesian cooking techniques and ingredients – such as titi (muttonbird) and mamaku (an edible tree fern) – and is often booked out months in advance. The dégustation menu changes seasonally and the wine list is made up of almost exclusively New Zealand bottles.

The stay

The Intrepid Hotel

The Intrepid Hotel, New Zealand

Right in the heart of the CBD, this boutique stay’s 18 rooms each have a slightly different feel – from unique artworks and cosy lounge areas to special accommodation for dogs (ask for a Pooch Room). There’s an onsite wine bar, The Puffin, which focuses on natural wines (you can even take a bottle back to your room) and a brewery next door. Choice Bros. is located down a private laneway and each of its core range of beers is named in honour of a David Bowie song (a nod to a nearby Ziggy Stardust mural).

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SEE ALSO: 20 Incredible Reasons to Visit Wellington

Image credit: Amber-Jayne Bain; Tourism Wellington

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