Skip to Content

Visiting the Queenstown Breweries on a Craft Beer Tour

Visiting the Queenstown Breweries on a Craft Beer Tour

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

This is our review of our Queenstown craft beer tour including our favorite breweries to check out and information about the craft breweries in Queenstown.

Queenstown is the tourist hub of New Zealand’s South Island and therefore it seems to have everything to offer tourists, but surprisingly up until recently, its brewery game hasn’t been so strong.

Queenstown is a town full of adventure activities, amazing sightseeing opportunities, and wineries everywhere, but for whatever reason, it was missing the ever-popular craft beer scene – that is until now!

In the last few years, more and more breweries have opened in Queenstown, making visiting Queenstown breweries on a craft beer tour possible!

The other afternoon we went on a Brewbus craft beer tour in Queenstown and had a fantastic time! So in this blog, we’ll let you know all about our Queenstown brewery tour experience as well as our favorite Queenstown Breweries and other Brewery Tours (that you can check out for yourself)!

What to Expect on a Craft Beer Tour in Queenstown

Peaple cheers on a Queenstown craft beer tour
Believe it or not, this was the first stop haha!

Pick up

Some of the tours will pick you up from your hotel like the Queenstown Beer Tour does but many of the other ones will require you to meet in central Queenstown and drop you off at the end of the day. No need to worry about drinking and driving today, you can sample all of the beer you want without the worry of getting home!

Visit the Breweries

The Brewbus goes to four different breweries around Queenstown where you get to try lots of different kinds of beer and learn about the beer-making process.

The full-day tours average around 5 hours and start at noon, but there is also a half-day option for those who are short on time. The 4 most popular stops on most tours include a visit to Arrowtown and the Shotover River so it’s a great way to see the area all while enjoying a brewery tour!


Lunch is included on some tours like the Brewbus Tour or Queenstown Beer Tour but the Twilight Tour includes an antipasti platter. On tours where lunch is not included, you can always fill before the tour or grab a burger or sandwich of your choice and chips anytime if there is food served as you stop throughout the day.

The scenic views

On the tour, your bus will take you to four breweries but via very scenic routes to enjoy amazing views. And the best part? The breweries are located in a few different areas of Queenstown and Arrowtown so you get to see a lot!

So take in the views and learn some fun facts from the driver along the way. Our local guide shared lots of stories of Maori culture which was a great touch!

Related Read: The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is one of New Zealand’s most scenic road trips.

4 BEST Beer Tours in Queenstown

outside of the hop-on hop-off bus in Queenstown
This hop-on hop-off bus offers beer tours too! Photo Credit: Hop On Hop Off Wine Tours

1. Queenstown Beer Tour

  • Price: $169 NZD
  • Duration: 4-5 hours

On the Queenstown Beer Tour you will visit 4 different breweries and get to go behind the scenes of some of the city’s most popular along with some microbreweries and learn how they make the beers.

You will have some allotted free time between the 2 and 3 stops to explore the small town of Arrowtown. One of the brewpubs gives you a beer flight paired with lunch bites and at the last brewery, you can even hang out longer than the allotted time of the tour because there is a bus stop within walking distance.

Note: This tour offers hotel pick-up.

2. Hop-on Hop-off Evening Beer Tour

  • Price: $69.50 NZD
  • Duration: 5 hours

The Hop-on Hop-off Beer Tour is super convenient and runs in central Queenstown every Thursday – Saturday night from 5 pm – 10 pm. This is by far the best choice to customize your itinerary as you can pick which 4 of the 14 stops you want to get out at. At the end, you’ll have the option for 2 more stops back toward central Queenstown.

Samples are not included in the ticket price, however, each spot will give you exclusive discounts from your Hop-on Hop-off wristband. This brewery tour is the perfect pregame if you want to experience some cool Queenstown bars for the rest of the night.

3. Twilight Wine and Craft Beer Tour

  • Price: $189 NZD
  • Duration: 4 hours

The Twilight Craft Beer and Wine Tour mixes both great wines with amazing beer. I really enjoyed this tour because I love sampling craft beers as well as wine so if you have a group with mixed tastes this is perfect! Included in your ticket are 12+ samples at 3 different cellars. You will visit Cargo Brewery, Kinross, and Mt Rosa Wines.

This tour is 4 hours and runs in the afternoon until sunset so it’s perfect for a summer day!

Note: This tour does not pick up from hotels, they will have you meet in Central Queenstown.

4. Brewbus Tour

  • Price: $170 NZD
  • Duration: 4.5 hours

The Queenstown Brewbus Tour is the tour we went on! It is a small group experience that can only book up to 6 people so you are sure to have a super personalized experience! It will last 4.5 hours, hits 4 different breweries, and includes lunch on the first stop. This tour will allow you to checkout the backend of a working brewery and learn from the Brew Masters. You can read all about our experience below!

Our Experience and the Queenstown Breweries we Visited

Queenstown Breweries tour
The views of the Shotover River!

Our day started at noon when the iconic gold “Brew Bus” picked us up in central Queenstown for the start of the tour. We were joined by a group of fun people all equally as excited as we were to try some awesome beer!

As we started the drive to Arrowtown, the sun was reflecting off the snow-capped mountains and we knew that it was going to be a fantastic day all around.

Related Read: One of the best trails in New Zealand is the Queenstown Hill Walk, it’s easy and beyond scenic!

1. Lake & Wood Brew Co. at Slow Cuts in Arrowtown

The burger at Slow Cuts in Arrowtown on our craft beer tour
That burger was so delicious!

Our first stop was a restaurant in Arrowtown called Slow Cuts that serves the local beer from Arrowtown. At this stop, we also had lunch which meant we go to enjoy local craft beer and amazing burgers – life doesn’t get much better than that!

We tried several different beers and left Slow Cuts with a full belly and already feeling a little tipsy.

My Top Pick Beer: Lake and Wood Barrelled – This beer is actually stored in barrels which gave it an oak flavor.

Dan’s Top Pick: Pils and Thrills – American Hopped Pilsner

Food Recommendations: Slow Cuts is amazing, but there is one item that isn’t on the menu that might be worth asking for if you are up for a spicy chicken burger. Ask for the “Jack or Yak Chicken Burger” if you are feeling adventurous!

2. Altitude Brewing in Frankton

four beer bottles at Altitude Brewing in Queenstown
The four beers we tried at Altitude!

The next stop was the newest of the Queenstown breweries. Having just moved from Christchurch, I can see Altitude Brewing becoming the new hot-spot to hang out in Queenstown.

Conveniently located along Frankton road, this little brewery has a ton of flavor to offer and their beers are already quite famous internationally.

Here, we were treated to a tour of the brewery and let in on how the beer is made before sampling a few for ourselves.

My Top Pick: “The Mischievous Kea.” It is an easy-drinking IPA and also Altitude Brewing’s biggest seller.

Dan’s Top Pick: “The Posturing Professional.” This Pale Ale definitely hits the mark with strong hop flavors.

Related Read: If you don’t want to spend all of your money in one New Zealand city here are some free and cheap things you can do in Queenstown!

3. Searchlight Brewery Queenstown

Our tasting paddle at Search Light Brewery
Our tasting paddle at Search Light Brewery

Our third stop was a small, locally-owned brewery just on the outskirts of Queenstown. Searchlight Brewery has an awesome slogan ”search, seek, evolve” that not only relates to how they make their beer but also how they run their company (and I think it is a great motto for life in general!)

Searchlight Brewery is a place that I will definitely make a stop at on the way back from a day of skiing on Coronet Peak! Plus, they sell take-away growlers (1.9 liters) of beer for only $20!

My Top Pick: The Saison. It has a really unique flavor that I describe as almost spicy.

Dan’s Top Pick: The IPA. Dan always likes an IPA. This one is especially strong and will definitely give you a buzz at 7.2%!

4. Canyon Food & Brew Co. at the Shotover River

Last stop on our Queenstown brewery tour
Last stop on our Queenstown brewery tour

By our final stop, we were all feeling the beer and having some great laughs. Everyone on the tour became best friends and we were so chatty that it was hard to stay quiet during the brewery tour.

Canyon Food & Brew Co. has the best location right on the Shotover River. From the patio, you can sip beer with some spectacular views.

But besides the location, the beer is tasty and the food is awesome. A place like this would be a perfect hang out spot for a sunny afternoon.

My Top Pick: The Porter. I normally don’t like Porters, but this one wasn’t too strong and was easy to drink.

Dan’s Top Pick: All of them. At this stage of the tour, Dan was pretty tipsy and liked ALL of the beer!

Why go on a Craft Beer Tour?

A group cheers on our Queenstown breweries tour
A group cheers on our Queenstown breweries tour

Besides the obvious of not having to worry about driving after you sample as many beers as you like, one of the best things about a craft beer tour is the knowledge. The Queenstown Beer Tour and the Brewbus tours are the two on the list where you will learn about the beer-making process on-site

Every place we went we learned about the process as well as the beers themselves. It added to the overall experience of tasting the beers, knowing the story and the work behind them made the experience that much more special.

In contrast, the Twilight Tour and Hop-on Hop-off tours will provide you with information about the region and beers during transport and you’ll also get some great local knowledge from the driver!

You could visit these breweries on your own, but you won’t get the behind-the-scenes tour as we got, have the chance to meet the brewers themselves, or try such a variety!

Another great reason to book a tour is if you don’t have a rental car or van. This will make visiting breweries further outside of town possible. Keep in mind that the Brew Bus, Twilight Tour, and Hop-on Hop-off do not provide hotel pick-ups as the Queenstown Beer Tour does. Those other three will meet in Central Queenstown so make sure to read the details of each one before booking.

You can book your Brew Bus craft beer tour directly on their website or you can also view a range of new tours that have started in Queenstown here including a hop on hop off tour!

Why Choose Brewbus?

Brewbus is a professional company that are experts in all things craft beer! But besides the knowledge, you are guaranteed to have a fabulous time! Lots of laughs along the way of visiting some really special breweries in the Queenstown area.

Our day with Brewbus was spectacular, and we will be definitely joining them on some of their other brewery tours in other states.

You can book your Queenstown craft beer tour here

Tips for having a great day/what to bring

  • It is a day full of drinking, so be prepared! I recommend hydrating that morning well before leaving! Don’t worry about bringing water as they provide it on the tour and at the breweries as well.
  • Don’t forget your camera, some of the views from the bus are great and some of the breweries are located in beautiful locations.
  • Start off slowly, if you drink too much at the beginning you will have had more than enough beer by the end. Pace yourself, it is a long day!
  • Don’t be shy and ask questions during the brewery tours. Also, if you have a particular beer you want to try, ask for it. The brewers are all very nice and happy to answer any questions and sample more beers.

Other Activities to do While You’re in Queenstown

Bailey stands at the front of the TSS Earnslaw on our way back from Queenstown best bike tour
Riding the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Farm!

Aside from tasting delicious craft beer, there are lots of other amazing things to do in and around Queenstown. Some of my favorites are:

  • Ride the gondola – The gondola in Queenstown is an iconic activity that takes you up the side of a mountain to Bob’s Peak high above Queenstown. The view is insane, especially if you stay for sunset. And at the top of the gondola, you’ll also find the Luge, a unique go-cart-like experience that’s powered by gravity. I recommend buying combo tickets for the gondola AND the Luge!
  • Visit a sheep farm  – New Zealand has more sheep than people, so you must visit a sheep farm while here! But hey, why not do it in style? This Walter Peak Farm Tour includes a cruise in a vintage steamship to this picturesque seaside farm. Once there, you’ll enjoy a tasty meal of high-end barbequed meats or seafood- buffet style. Cap things off with the choice of desserts and cheeses. Afterward, you’ll watch a sheep shearing demonstration or a sheepdog show.
  • Take a scenic food and wine tour The Queenstown area is a foodie heaven, with incredible wine and cuisine that you just have to try. And on this day tour, you’ll sip wine from New Zealand’s largest wine cave, be served a gourmet lunch, and indulge in local cheeses – all with an epic view to boot!

Where to Stay in Queenstown, New Zealand

the outside of the Hilton on the lake in Queenstown
Want to stay near the lake with mountain views? Yes, please! Photo Credit: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

Queenstown is filled with amazing things to do but also awesome places to stay! One thing about Queenstown, though, is that if you don’t book in advance, you’ll miss out on the best places (and the best prices!). So to help you out, we’ve compiled this list of our top hotels in Queenstown for all budget types.

Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa – $$$

Bailey and I spent our anniversary at the Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa and really loved our stay. It’s located a little out of town but they run a free shuttle every 30 minutes. The place has an indoor pool, full spa, and an onsite bar/restaurant where we watched the sunset over the lake. The rooms are beautiful in classic Hilton-style with comfy king-sized beds and bathtubs. Suites even come with fireplaces.

To me, it’s great value starting at $225 NZD per night. You’ll find the best deals when you book in advance on

Melbourne Lodge – $$

The Melbourne Lodge is a gorgeous hotel just a 5-minute walk to downtown. But what I love about this place is it sits on the end of Queenstown near the airport meaning that you never have to drive through town to visit the ski fields or many major attractions, saving you time. It has everything from budget rooms to self-contained apartments. From their guest lounge and deck, you also get a view of the bay and gondola.

Rooms here can be as little as $130 NZD per night! Check out prices and book your stay online here.

The Flaming Kiwi Backpackers – $

The Flaming Kiwi Backpackers was the first place I ever stayed in Queenstown. It’s a great budget backpacker hostel with a very social vibe. The beds are comfy and come with a privacy curtain, and there’s also a shared lounge, kitchen, barbecue, laundry facilities, and free onsite parking. The building is kind of old but is kept quite clean. Dorm beds here start at $55 NZD per night.

You can book The Flaming Kiwi Backpackers on or through Hostelworld.

For even more options, check out our guide on where to stay in Queenstown. We break down the best areas and provide hotel recommendations for each.

Note: When booking hotels we always use The reason? They are almost always cheaper (we have booked over 250 hotels with them) and if you find a better price they’ll match it guaranteed – even if it’s a special on their own website!

Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand

Bailey takes a selfie with a JUCY campervan
Ready to hit the road!
Bailey stands infront of a JUCY campervan in New Zealand
JUCY is another favorite!

The first step to planning your New Zealand road trip is choosing your set of wheels! Most people rent a campervan or motorhome to get around, but you can also just rent a normal car and stay in hotels (as opposed to camping.)

You can search for rental cars online with Discover Cars in advance to compare car models and prices. We’ve used this website all over the world and if you want more details, read our honest review of Discover Cars for more details!

You can also do this with motorhomes and campervans on a website called Motorhome Republic. It shows all of the available campervans and motorhomes for your specific New Zealand road trip dates. You can compare prices and company reviews here too!

JUCY is our personal favorite campervan rental company in NZ. We love JUCY because they have such a range of both cars and campervans available, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your budget and travel style.

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! What a good deal!

You can check prices, availability and book with JUCY online here.

Star RV is another company we personally recommend but specifically for motorhomes! They offer larger motorhomes (as opposed to budget campervans) at really reasonable rates.

Star RV has actually given us a discount code for our readers too! Use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off your motorhome rental! Note, this code is only valid for bookings made before June 21, 2024 with travel dates before Dec 21, 2024. Click here to browse availability, prices, and book with our discount code!

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading!

We have been on so many wine tasting tours all over the world but had never been on a brewery tour before now, but we know now that it won’t be our last!

The beer was tasty, the company was fun, and the tour company was perfect. We had such an enjoyable afternoon and made some great memories, and some new favorite beers to stock our fridge with!

If you have any questions please leave them below in the comments and we will get back to you! If not be sure to check out other New Zealand travel guides here or go to our Queenstown page, we also have some of our favorite articles below!

Best tours in Queenstown

Best restaurants in Queenstown

2 week South Island road trip itinerary

Like it? Pin it! Click here!

A guide to going on a craft beer tour in queenstown

Lewis Benseman

Saturday 27th of April 2024

Hi. I own and operate Queenstown Beer Tours. I've just seen this for the first time. Awesome write up and I appreciate your hard work.


Destinationless Travel

Tuesday 7th of May 2024

Hey Lewis!

Glad you like it!

Thanks Daniel