Small beer: Sip in the Top of the South

Golden Bay, the home of hops, is teeming with full-bodied craft beers that bring happiness and serenity to the holiday destination (as does Nelson, but this tour takes in small-town breweries).

First we roam the beautiful Golden Bay to Motueka and Māpua, past the wineries for a day to collect supplies for a stroll on the epic Abel Tasman Coast Track.

And then it’s off to Kaikōura, the land of seafood, an occasional earthquake followed by a walk on SH1 to North Canterbury.

Māpua (population 1254)

WHO: Golden Bear

Anne and Jim Matranga at Golden Bear in Māpua.


Anne and Jim Matranga at Golden Bear in Māpua.

What: On the wharf in sunny Māpua, near Nelson, Golden Bear is a spacious outdoor hangout that serves home-brewed beer, burgers and Los Angeles-style Mexican dishes.

Los Angeles style? Golden Bear was founded by Jim and Anne Matranga, and Jim was born in LA where he worked as a carpenter. A visit to New Zealand in the 1990s left an impression of a beautiful country with dreary beer. A dream was born.

The result, more than a decade later, was the opening of the Golden Bear on Labor Weekend in 2008. Since then, the bar, kitchen, restaurant and outdoor terrace have been redesigned.

Flagship beer: Not one, but favorites were Pales and California-style IPAs – Fat Toad (a pale ale) and Seismic IPA (a hoppy IPA). Stormy, a blurry New England-style IPA, has just joined the fight. Delicious.

Golden Bear Brewing, Mapua Wharf.


Golden Bear Brewing, Mapua Wharf.

Open minded: Live music on Friday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Closed on December 31st and January 1st. Otherwise open daily from 12 noon. A summer music festival – 12 days until January 9th with live music from 4pm to 7pm.

Golden Bear will regularly update its website to change business hours if necessary.

Motueka (8280 inhabitants)

Martin Townshend from the Townshend Brewery in Motueka.


Martin Townshend from the Townshend Brewery in Motueka.

WHO: Townshend Brewery

What: The brewery was founded by Martin and Keri Townshend in 2005 and has a reputation for making some of our best beers.

General Manager Antony Burke gives a few reasons; First of all, Townshend is located in the green heart of a hop-growing region, a little over 40 km northwest of Nelson.

“Get the best ingredients, treat them with respect, and you will make a great product,” he says.

In addition to the best hops, the water is fed from the ancient Motueka aquifer, combined with malted barley, yeast and a large portion of passion.

And then there is the art of brewer Martin Townshend.

Toad hall in Motueka.


Toad hall in Motueka.

“We brew the way people have done it for centuries, and our brews have the depth of flavor that comes from fermenting in small batches,” says Townshend.

Worried about sustainability? Not. It is important in all aspects of business. The brewery is solar powered and uses recycled glass bottles and boxes.

Townshend was New Zealand Brewery and Manufacturer of the Year in 2014.

Flagship beer: Sutton Hoo, Amber Ale.

meal: Try the breakfast burger at Toad Hall, which is licensed and unlicensed retail. Toad Hall is right in front of the brewery, even connected to it.

Open minded: Toad Hall Cafe & Taproom opening hours (summer) 8 am-6pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Stoke (Population 19,760)

WHO: Eddyline Brewery

What: A well-known topic is developing here – the owners Michiel Heynekamp and his wife Molley founded the Eddyline Brewery in Colorado, USA. They opened “multiple breweries” across New Mexico and Colorado before selling and moving to New Zealand after visiting Godzone and falling in love with her.

Eddyline is a 100 percent independent family-owned brewery based in Stoke, near the Hop Fields and with mountains and other outdoor attractions that appealed to her and her young family of three.

Eddyline comes from the line that separates the fast flowing current in a river from the eddy where the water slows down so kayakers can stop, rest, catch up and celebrate their victories.

Between university and school, two of her children work in business, with Mic and Molley full-time. After two years affected by Covid, 2022 sees new plans for beer, festivals and a taproom.

Flagship beer: CrankYanker West Coast IPA is a recipe first considered by Mic and Molley in 1996 when they invited friends over weekly to try the beer and give them their opinion. Optimizations were made and CrankYanker was born. It’s the brewery’s bestseller. And don’t forget American As, Pumpkin Pie Spiced, for a touch of old glory.

Meal: There is a pizzeria (in Richmond) with wood-fired pizza and a selection of Eddyline beers on tap AND artichoke dip with handmade flatbreads they call “famous”. In March they want to open a taproom and a taco restaurant in the brewery.

Open minded: The restaurant is open Monday to Thursday from 12 noon to 9 pm; Friday to Saturday noon-10 p.m. Sunday 11 am-9pm.

Kaikōura (2420 inhabitants)

Paul and Laura Finney from Emporium Brewery in Kaikōura brew medalists.


Paul and Laura Finney from Emporium Brewery in Kaikōura brew medalists.

WHO: Emporium

What: Hidden between Marlborough and Canterbury in Kaikōura, Emporium Brewing is more than just a brewery. Its kid-distracting elements are great when you want an undisturbed ale.

Send them onto the 18-hole mini golf course, lock them up in one of the two escape rooms, or let Poppy, the brewery cat, entertain you.

Hidden behind the Caltex garage on SH1, his driveway runs between the vet and Dusky Lodge.

Emporium is a small brewery, just Paul and Laura Finney (and their two year old Hazel).

Poppy the brewery cat takes a nap on Emporium's mini golf course.


Poppy the brewery cat takes a nap on Emporium’s mini golf course.

The lonely employee Kayla Williams serves beer, runs escape rooms and maintains the golf course, with the cat Poppy in an unpaid supervisory role.

“I always joke that it’s a hobby that is out of control,” says Paul Finney.

Laura and Paul moved from Christchurch to Kaikōura in August 2016.

Their timing was “not quite perfect,” as the doors opened only five weeks after an earthquake cut off transportation to Kaikōura.

Paul and Laura had to overcome earthquakes to get on their feet.

Joe Johnson / stuff

Paul and Laura had to overcome earthquakes to get on their feet.

Flagship beer: Paul has a reputation for “classic styles” based on his preferences. Only two of Emporium’s 25 beers are Hazy Ales. Apple strudel has achieved cult status, with house stout obsidian as the base, spices and rum are added to create a beer that smells and tastes like apple strudel.

meal: There is a food truck with a selection of burgers, cakes and so on.

Open minded: The Emporium’s new bar will officially open on December 27th, offering 11 beers on tap and a Peckhams cider. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. in summer.

Amberley (resident 1800)

WHO: Brew Moon Brewing Company.

Brew Moon in Amberley.  The team (left to right): Kieran McCauley, Belinda Gould, Toby McCauley, Oscar McCauley.


Brew Moon in Amberley. The team (left to right): Kieran McCauley, Belinda Gould, Toby McCauley, Oscar McCauley.

What: Founded in 2002 by Kieran McCauley and Belinda Gould, Brew Moon is a family owned brewery and taproom that describes itself as “North Canterbury’s original craft brewery”.

Amberley is 50 km north of Christchurch on State Highway 1 and is ready for a short travel break.

There are many thirst quenching options with a range of popular styles alongside a selection of more exotic seasonal beers.

And there is not only beer, but also a small selection of local wines.

Brew Moon has a sense of humor too, as best-selling Waipara Hazy IPA shows.

“Waipara means muddy water, which seemed a fitting and amusing name for a cloudy beer,” says Oscar McCauley.

“A couple of weeks ago our Waipara won a silver medal at the NZ Beer Awards, so we think it’s going in the right direction.”

Flagship beer: It’s been the “beloved” Amberley Pale Ale for a long time.

Brew Moon is a beer and pizza haven in Amberley.


Brew Moon is a beer and pizza haven in Amberley.

meal: Based almost entirely on pizza, and anything that isn’t pizza is still cooked in a wood-burning pizza oven (think nachos and baked camembert). Pizza dough is made on site.

Open minded: Wednesday-Friday 3pm until late, Saturday and Sunday 12pm until late. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

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