Quaffers' Guide to Holiday Happiness

At this time of year beer drinkers are often uprooted from their comfort zones and thrown into a strange new world of uncertain tippling options.

To help them cope with the confusion - and in no particular order or preference - Holiday Review offers a guide to holidaymakers who could do worse than slaking their thirsts in these recommended watering holes.

Malone’s, Waiheke Island – a Guinness house in the no-frills style. Basic boozing like it should be. Guinness pies at their best in winter. Be careful not to fall under the lovely Ita’s spell. Smokers’ paradise. Last here 2012.

The Corner Bar, corner Shortland and High Streets in the old De Brett’s building, Auckland – let the lovely Mercedes Allgood pour from Moa’s tasty selection. Watch famous folk from a kerbside table or lurk inside if you don’t want to be seen by His Honour. Be wary of collapsible tables. Here regularly while Vulcan Lane boycott is maintained. Last here last week.

Mac’s Neighbourhood Brew Bar, 498 New North Road, Kingsland, overlooking Eden Park. Just discovered the other day. Great location, good service, tasty food and big jugs of alcoholic ginger beer. One to watch this summer.

Star and Garter, Kapanga Rd, Coromandel – nicely gentrified Monteith’s ale house, comfy old club chairs, good bar meals and good service. Stay over at excellent Top 10 Holiday Park up the street. Last here in 2012.

Shepherds’ Arms/Speight’s Alehouse/whatever they call themselves these days, Tinakori Road, Wellington – also a good place to eat, lie down, talk footy and spot the occasional MP with his “niece.” Excellent fish and chips. Last here in 2010.

Hurunui Hotel, State Highway 7, North Canterbury - an hour and a half north west from Christchurch on the way to the Lewis Pass. Head and shoulders above all others and after more than 20 years on-site research, this is a true drinker’s oasis which ticks all the boxes. A rustic sleep (trucks roar by all night), excellent food, big jugs on request. Assorted game pies. Breathtaking breakfast. Tell Travis the Boys from BLC sent you. The place to head for after coming through Molesworth Station. Settle in for a day or three. Last here in 2011.

The Miller, Lincoln Road, Christchurch - premises and patrons untouched by earthquakes, a rare wee suburban TAB pub pouring reliable Guinness and dependable hot chips. Staunch local patrons. Free tomato sauce. Bicycles welcome. Last here in 2011.

Old Bank, Stafford Street, Timaru – now includes a backpackers, in past years has excelled with its Guinness, bar meals and witty barroom banter. Last here about 1986.

Little Celtic-themed cosy bar in a corner of the Octagon, in Dunedin, near where the Atheneum is/was. Good ale and snack. Last here 2010. It rained.

Strath Taieri Hotel, Middlemarch – good ale, good fish and chips. Broad-minded agrarian sector/rail trailers mix. Last here 2011.

Every Manitoto pub from Clyde, Central Otago, on Highway 85 through to Clark’s Junction, including Chatto Creek, Omakau, The Vulcan (St Bathan’s), Ancient Briton and Royal (Naseby), Ranfurly, Omakau, Oturehua, Wedderburn, Ophir, Becks and Lauder.
Folk will understand if someone’s been missed. Rail trail country. Last here for all of them in 2000 (the year when, for eight days, a pair of intrepid enthusiasts tackled the coldest parts of New Zealand in the middle of winter, in a campervan accompanied by 96 cans of Guinness). Memory vague. Refreshed a few in 2010/11. Biked 11 kms.

Bannockburn Hotel, Bannockburn, Central Otago – passable ale and pie. Last here 2011.

Any pub on the West Coast, including Otira. Last here for fleeting overnight car-kip in Taramakau pub carpark about 2001.

That’s enough to be going on with.

If you have a particularly favourite pub you would like to share with fellow readers, leave a comment or email janderson@nbr.co.nz


PS: The above Guide is only of pubs personally experienced by the Quaffer.

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13 Comments & Questions

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Cripes, no mention of Nelson where all the Hops in NZ are grown? The craft Brew capital of NZ?

Sprig and Fern Milton Street, recently voted Best Bar in NZ would be worth a look there I would suggest.


Try The Free-house in Nelson - new stuff every week and they proper pints for not much coin. Perfect in the beer garden on a sunny day. Can't get that in AKL.


Jock, you are so out of touch . Speights ale house in Tinakori Road....

Yes, only if you like sugary brown **** and want to pay the price of beer for it, as with a number of your other suggestions.

If Auckland try The Britomart Brewery. At least its got decent craft beer.


- Chatto Creek Pub
- The Dam Pub, Clyde
- Inch Bar, Dunedin
- No. 4, Merivale
- Luggate Hotel, Luggate


Top spots in Wairarapa are the Gladstone pub and the Lake Ferry pub . Both do bloody good fish and chips and a host of other fabulous food and local wines and ales. If you are in Christchurch our wee secret inner city local for drinkers of fine hops is the oddly names Astro lounge in worcester Boulevard tucked in behind the very nice Cooking with Gas restaurant. You will be well served by the very experienced beer dude Greg. All hair and hurrumph.But he knows his ales. Emmersons and local craft beers for all in a great garden bar setting. Us quakers have washed many a dollar into the local economy via the bar at the Astro.


Harringtons tasting bar in Hillmorton Chch do a passable 5% ginger beer and an 8% scrumpy.
The Miller bar you recommended is frequented by early morning winos, derelicts and earthquake refugees from the East side.


Dear BLC,
You should not refer to fellow patrons in such terms. Don't I know you from somewhere???


Chook and Filly, Maraekakahoe (just outside Hastings) - good all round


Little Beer Quarter in Wellington - great pies, primo craft beers, excellent wine list, cosy and comfortable. Not just a haven for beardy beer geeks either, quite a decent set of individuals enjoying a decent quaff.

Noted not much from Hawkes Bay - I'm from the Bay and can't think of any.


Any tips for Northland?? I have a soft spot for The Pioneer in Waipapa, good old fashioned service, good value bar snacks and the regular live music.


The Celtic Inn in Palmerston North. Got the Macs and Speights if you want it, but London Pride on tap & a big craft range in the fridge. Do a good burger as well & often have great live music.


"Brew" on Tutanekai Street (Eat Streat), Rotorua. Crouchers Beer (locally brewed) plus a great selection of other boutique beers from around NZ. Good pub style food. A great atmosphere.


The Welcome Rock at Garston Southland. Cold Beer and will cook your trout you catch from the Mataura River out the back door.


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