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Craft beer is growing in popularity in New Zealand, and nowhere is that more visible than in the capital, Wellington. The city is fairly small, with a compact CBD, making it easy for drinkers to get around on foot. Within a few blocks of my hotel, there were at least a dozen great places to drink awesome beer, making it one of the most densely beer-populated cities in the world. I tried to get to as many as possible, but even then, I missed plenty of bars. Here is my guide to the best places to drink craft beer in Wellington, the craft beer capital of New Zealand, including beer bars, taprooms, and breweries.

The Best Craft Beer Bars in Wellington, New Zealand

Little Beer Quarter (LBQ)

Little Beer Quarter was my first beer stop in Wellington since it was right around the corner from my hotel. Like many good bars, it was located in an alleyway.

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I visited a couple of times. It’s a chill spot with great music. The beer selection was excellent, with about dozen taps, a couple of hand pulls, and a large bottle selection.

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The bar snacks were also good. I recommend the calamari. Based on the number of Untappd check-ins I saw, Little Beer Quarter is a spot for connoisseurs. There are a lot of beer geeks here. The bar closed early since it was a Monday night; otherwise, I would have stayed even longer on my first visit, but that just let me try new places.

Hashigo Zake

Hashigo Zake is another craft beer bar I visited a couple of times in Wellington. The bar is a major beer destination featuring a mix of New Zealand, American, and Japanese beers.

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Hashigo Zake calls itself a “cult beer bar,” and it certainly takes its beer seriously. There are about a dozen taps, but the true depth is in its bottle selection.

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The vibe is cool, with all three cultures melding in one dark basement. The food is a mix of local favorites & Japanese snacks such as takoyaki, which harkened back to my beer-drinking times in Tokyo & Kyoto.

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The bar also has the best WiFi I encountered in New Zealand, and they even print the password on the menu, saving people from pestering the bartenders. Oh, and in case you were wondering, “Hashigo Zake” is a Japanese phrase that roughly means “bar hopping”. A genius name for a genius bar.

The Malthouse

The Malthouse is one of the older places to drink craft beer in Wellington, but unlike some older bars, it hasn’t been left behind.

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The selection here is simply massive, featuring about 25 taps of the best New Zealand & European beers, plus a huge bottle selection, many of which are difficult to find. I was only able to make it in for a couple of drinks, but I could have easily spent several days at The Malthouse. This is a true gem for local beer fans in Wellington.

Golding’s Free Dive

Golding’s Free Dive is kind of a dive in both senses of the word. Inside, it’s dark, with a seaside diving theme.

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There’s also an outside patio for enjoying some sunlight. It’s another bar that is a bit difficult to find down a side street, but once you do, you’ll want to stay a while.

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Despite being in a busy area of Wellington, Golding’s Free Dive maintains a neighborhood feel. It features both New Zealand and American beers.

The Best Breweries in Wellington, New Zealand

Garage Project

Garage Project was the sole brewery I visited in Wellington, and based on everything I had to drink during my trip, it was my favorite in New Zealand, which is an impressive feat since there are so many great breweries there. The brewery started in a garage in Wellington’s Aro Valley (just south of the CBD), which you might have surmised by the name.

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These guys are huge beer geeks, constantly experimenting to make new, unique beers. You’re not going to always find the same limited range of beers here. Their brewery doesn’t serve pints, only growlers, bottles, and cans to go, however, you can do as many tasters as you’d like.

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I tasted everything available, plus I then brought a couple of cans of their beers that I hadn’t yet had in New Zealand to take back home. I hope Garage Project’s international distribution continues growing because they make fantastic beer.

Garage Project Tap House

Oh, you thought I was done with Garage Project? Across the street & about a block to the west from the brewery along Aro Sreet, the Garage Project Tap House features even more of the brewery’s great beer.

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When I was in Wellington, the bar had only been open for about two months, but it’s a great spot to relax and try more Garage Project beer. The bar features 18 taps, plus 2 casks. I’ve never seen this before, but at each tap handle, they had a small bottle of each beer. This is a great way to get an idea of the beer style if you only like dark beers, light beers, or IPAs. Plus, it just looks cool.

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They were still working on the food menu a bit, but they had good snacks & sandwiches. Whoever was responsible for the music that day was also doing a great job, as they were playing The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, and MGMT. I’d planned on visiting/revisiting some of the other Wellington craft beer bars after going here on my final evening in the city, but I ended up just staying here. My favorites were Cabbages & Kings, an oyster stout, and Mecha Hop, a face-melting strong beer that was made purely from hop & malt extracts.

These were all of the craft beer bars I visited during my three days in Wellington, which was not nearly enough. I need to return someday to visit other highly-rated places such as Rogue & Vagabond (which I tried to visit but was closed for the holiday), Bebemos, and Southern Cross.

With all of these beer bars so close together in central Wellington, you might find yourself needing the facilities. Don’t worry, the city has you covered with large, reasonably clean public toilets located in Te Aro Park.

If you’re looking for even more craft beer in Wellington, or if you want to gain an accomplishment while you’re drinking your way through the city, Wellington has put together a Craft Beer Capital map with stamps. If you visit all 20 places, which includes the places I’ve mentioned, as well as Meow, Fork & Brewer, D4 on Featherston, Sprig & Fern, Moon, Basque, Bin 44, The Bruhaus, & Kelburn Village Pub, you can get a certificate & a t-shirt. While I didn’t do this because I only had a few days in the city, plus some bars were closed for the holidays, it looks like fun & a good way to get to know Wellington through the bottom of a glass.

With an amazing amount of craft beer breweries and bars for its size, Wellington truly is the craft beer capital of New Zealand, and a must-visit destination for any beer geek.

Have any more craft beer recommendations for Wellington? Let me know in the comments!

Do you love craft beer? Check out more of my recommendations for the best craft beer around the world!

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  1. So awesome. Headed to NZ in February from the US and we love craft beer. Thank you so much for posting this. We are not wanting to do the traditional tourist beer tour… and are so happy to have discovered your article so that we can try some smaller places and less touristy options!