When it comes to craft breweries in Wānaka, it’s all about what kind of vibe you’re after.
For a relaxed, industrial atmosphere, check out Rhyme & Reason. Stills, mash tuns and a whole line-up of brewing silverware make up the backdrop of the garage space. Set up shop at one of the family-style long tables, listen to live music and wait for your next turn of giant Jenga. Brewery tours are available on request and give insight into the brewing process and future brews. A tasting paddle is the way to go for the indecisive, offering four fresh tap beers of your choice.
To make it a mini brewery crawl, when you’re finished at RxR, head across the street to Ground Up Brewing. They’ve recently opened a bright and spacious tasting room, complete with a guest food truck space right out front! Grab a glass of beer, laze in a big armchair or grab one of the board games and while away the evening.
Head to the other side of town for B. Effect Brewing Co. and eatery B. Social. Located in the industrial area just a five minute drive from town, B. Social is the perfect après spot if you’re looking to escape the downtown area. Unique bar eats, in-house brewed craft beers and even kombucha, B. Social has a post ski treat to please the whole crew of shredders.
You may already be familiar with family-owned wine company, Maude — the vineyard has been operating out of the neighbouring Maungawera Valley for over two decades. Now, the vineyard boasts a second-generation medley of wines and its own cellar door in Wānaka so you can sample the goods, all at once. The Maude Wines Tasting Room can be found inside sister restaurant, Bistro Gentil. The new service takes the standing work out of the wine tasting experience — unless you’d like it — with the ability to bring the entire Maude line-up and your own seasoned tasting guide table-side.
Either way, you’ll likely want to turn that tasting session into dinner and a bottle. You’re in luck. The bistro is something straight from the European countryside. It’s led by chef Mario Rodrigues and offers modern French cuisine using produce from the establishment’s garden and Central Otago.
Maybe you want to be amongst all the hustle and bustle of downtown Wānaka for your après. A simple walk down Ardmore Street in your ski boots will reveal an abundance of après hotspots, each with their own unique character.
First off, you’ll probably notice Kai Whakapai Cafe and Bar. The outdoor seating is almost always full on a busy day and the occasional live musician will occupy the courtyard at the front of the bar. A friendly staff member will greet you and will gladly oblige as you sample brews from their rotating taps.
Were you to wander down the street from Kai, you’d happen across Cork. Cork boasts a wide range of local and international spirits (60+ whiskeys and 50+ gins!), plus a funky outdoor courtyard sitting area in which to enjoy your cocktail.
Next, you might come across Trout Bar. Trout Bar offers local brews, classic cocktails and tasty cuisine using the freshest ingredients. Then, just a hop, skip and a jump away is the aptly named Lake Bar, where you can catch an après drink, meal and the big game.
Finally, it doesn’t get more ‘lakeside’ than Edgewater Resort. Though it may not be right in town, Edgewater’s après is worth the stop on the way home from the mountains. The new menu features a selection of light meals and carefully curated beverages like spicy mulled wine and artisan local craft beers. Relax around the roaring open fire with a glorious lakeview backdrop from 4-6pm everyday.
We can’t talk après eats without mentioning a local favourite; food trucks. No one really knows when the food trucks in Wānaka decided to pull up their handbrakes on Brownston Street. Regardless, there’s something for every appetite in the re-imagined food truck market. The hardest part is deciding what to order. There’s Burrito Craft which offers inventive Mexican food, including loaded tacos and hunger-busting burritos which come packed to the seams. Or try Firebird for incredible fried chicken and spicy seasoned hot chips.
If you’re heading down from the ski resort into Cardrona Valley, hang a right at the end of the road and head away from town. A short drive later and you’ll find yourself at the historic Cardrona Hotel. With beautiful leather wing-back chairs, a roaring fireplace and big backyard beer garden, Cardrona Hotel is après dream.
If your après cravings lean towards the international, Amigos is a favourite spot for Mexican cuisine, with a fresh and healthy take on authentic Mexican flavors. Or check out Shinaburo Korean Eating House, for a homey Korean-in-your-own-living-room vibe (plus, don’t forget BYO wine!). Francesca’s Pizza rounds off our list, offering wood-fired classics like Margherita, Pepperoni with wild venison, and the Tartufi with wild mushrooms, mozzarella and black truffle oil.
There are way more international options for those so inclined; check out Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and more!
Finally, fine dining. We can’t not mention Kika, Wānaka’s world-renowned Tapas restaurant. At the helm is award-winning chef James Stapley, who has curated an incredible menu of innovative sharing style plates. You may have to take off the ski kit and don fancy dress for this one.