Lonely Planet toasts our region's craft beers

01:22, Sep 24 2012
CHEERS: John Duncan left, Emma McCashin and Doug Donelan at the launch of Nelson Craft Brewing Capital of New Zealand.

Nelson's Craft Beer Trail has been singled out as one of the country's 12 new favourite recommendations in the latest edition of the traveller's bible The Lonely Planet New Zealand.

The newest and 16th edition of the guide book says that "Nelson has a bad (read:good) case of craft beer fever, so if your budget allows it, hoppiness awaits.

“The Nelson region lays claim to the title of craft-brewing capital of New Zealand. With world-class hops grown here since the 1840s, and a dozen breweries spread between Nelson and Golden Bay, it's got a pretty good case.”

The book advises picking up a copy of the Nelson Craft Beer Trail map and meandering between brewers and pubs.

Its top picks for a tipple are The Free House in Nelson, the Moutere Inn, Mapua's Golden Bear and Golden Bay's Mussel Inn.

It also plugs the Sprig and Fern and the Vic Brew Bar, and says cheaper establishments are on Bridge St.


"If you're out late, walk home with a friend," the book warns.

Craft Brewing Capital of NZ chairman Doug Donelan said it was fantastic news. It was only the second year the craft beer trail map had been published, with 25,000 copies printed last year and 35,000 this year.

"We were pretty surprised with what the response has been."

He said the craft beer market was booming and Nelson had really been in front of that for some time.

Jane Dixon of the Mussel Inn said it was great. "People carry around the Lonely Planet like a bible."

Craft beer was a growing industry worldwide, she said.

Andrew Cole of the Moutere Inn said it was a sign of the maturing of the craft beer market. "It's a real pat on the back for everyone involved in brewing in the Nelson area".

The Free House co-owner Mic Dover said he had not heard about the inclusion, but thought it was fantastic.

"Anything that gets people here to drink beer is a good thing."

He said the write-up was well-timed for the holiday season.

Nelson Tasman Tourism international marketing manager Loren Heaphy said the positive write-up was great for the region.

"Obviously the community is living up to what we say it provides."

Nelson and Tasman had long been known for the Abel Tasman National Park, so it was good to see the city recognised for what it had to offer.

She hoped the write-up would result in people staying longer in the region.

Lonely Planet was an important source of information for backpackers and independent travellers, a key market for Nelson.

The financial crisis meant people who would have been mid-range travellers had become backpackers or independent travellers, so the market was increasingly important to Nelson.

"For us the Lonely Planet is a good benchmark on how we're represented among other regions in terms of visitor expectation."

Regional roundup Nelson: “Hailed as one of New Zealand's most ‘liveable' cities. In summer it fills up with local and international visitors, who lap up its offerings, including proximity to diverse natural attractions.” (p.423)

Abel Tasman Coast Track: “This 51km, three-to-five-day track is one of the most scenic in the country, passing through native bush overlooking golden beaches lapped by gleaming azure water. Numerous bays, small and large, are like a travel brochure come to life.”

Nelson Lakes National Park: “Located at the northern end of the Southern Alps, and with a dramatic glacier-carved landscape, it's an awe-inspiring place to get up on high.”

Takaka: “Boasting NZ's highest concentration of yoga pants, dreadlocks and various types of dropouts, Takaka is nevertheless a largely down-to-earth town and the last ‘big' centre before the road west ends at Farewell Spit.”

The Nelson Mail