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Head to these Nelson Breweries for Some of the Best in New Zealand Craft Beer!

Nelson - the self-anointed brew capital of New Zealand (don’t mention that to someone from Wellington!).

If your idea of the perfect drink is a cold frothy pint of the old liquid gold - then ‘hop’ along to Nelson and sample a few tasty brews at some of New Zealand’s best micro-breweries. Check out our picks below, if wine is more your style, head here to read about our best picks for wineries in Marlborough!

Founders Brewery

Brew range (specialty beers not listed)
160 Golden Lager
1946 Pilsner
1953 Mid Way Pale Ale
1981 Pale Ale
2009 IPA

The Duncan family have been brewing in Nelson since 1854, with generations of experience, you can be sure that you will be sampling some of the very best in New Zealand craft beer. Head over to the brewery with attached café and restaurant, get a brew tasting paddle, and watch through the viewing window as the team work hard at creating more of their outstanding range.

Hop Federation

Brew range (specialty beers not listed)
Golden 4.5%
Pale Ale 5.1%
American Brown Ale 4.5%
Red IPA 6.4%

A small craft brewery located in the village of Riwaka, the Hop Federation claims that their brews ‘capture the spirit and the lifestyle of this special region.’ With a passion for brewing that drives the team to continually produce new and exciting specialty beers, using only the best in New Zealand hops and malts, the Hop Federation is a must visit for lovers of all things cold, frothy and Kiwi!

Sprig & Fern

Brew range (specialty beers not listed)
Pilsner 5%
Tasman Reserve Lager 6.5%
Wai-iti Lager 3.4%
Pale Ale 5%
Fern Draught 4%
Extra Special Bitter (ESB) 5.5%
Fern Lager 4%
Oatmeal Stout 4.3%
IPA 5%
American Pale Ale 5%
Porter 5%
Scotch Ale 6.5%

Owner (with her husband Ken) and head brewer, Tracy Banner, has spent a lifetime learning, growing and perfecting the craft of brewing.

With 50 years of collective brewing experience, Tracy and her team are always pushing brewing boundaries and trying new things. With both their full range of classic brews, plus a number of specialty beers on offer throughout the year, Sprig & Fern is a great place to relax and sample some of the finest in New Zealand brew craft.

Other Nelson breweries we recommend visiting + their brew ranges

Horse Box

Black Stallion milk stout 5%
Storm Hooper APA 5.7%
Ronin pilsner 4.5%
Forkhill red IPA 6%
Vigilante NZ IPA 5.8%
Juggernaut IPA 5.7%


Dales Pilsner 4.2%
Dales Belgian Pale Ale 5.4%
Dales American Amber 5.4%
Dales British Pale Ale 5.6%
Dales Californian IPA 6.6%
Dales Dopplebock 7.5%

Bays Brewery

Bays Golden Lager 4.2%
Bays Draught Ale 4%
Bays Dark Ale 4%
Harleys Ale, NZ Pale Ale 4%