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I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for an international flight. I’m ready to be welcomed by assertive but friendly flight attendants as I cross the gangway, I’m ready to drink several plastic cups of pinot, and I’m ready to arrive – rumpled but stoked – in a foreign country. And I would like that country to be New Zealand, please and thank you.

After the year we’ve all had, I think we deserve a jaunt across the Tasman. I think we’d all feel better after a playdate with our Kiwi neighbours. I also think we’d all feel better to actually do that thing we’ve forever been putting off for later. Also, I just really, really want to go for a drink somewhere other than my local. Or my boyfriend’s local. Or my sister’s local.

I want the guy pulling my beer to smile like Taika Waititi. I want to drink a crisp brew on a crispy bluebird day from a mountain somewhere in Queenstown. I want to ‘cheers’ to Jacinda Arden – long may she reign. And if you, like me, are craving a craft crawl, here’s a bunch of NZ breweries to get you excited:

8 Wired Brewing Co, Matakana

The team at 8 Wired released their first brew in 2009 and haven’t looked back since. In fact, just a couple of years later they took out the most prestigious award in the NZ craft beer scene – Champion Brewers at the Brewers Guild Awards. So, like, they know their stuff. At Barrelworks (their barrel ageing facility and tap room) in small town Matakana, they’ve got 21 beers on tap. So go to town.

Garage Project, Wellington

This is good stuff. So good that you can find it at bottle shops in Aus. I’ve been drinking it for a while but there’s nothing like drinking from the source. Garage Project was started by two best mates – Pete Gillespie and Jos Ruffell – out the back of an old petrol station. Today it’s an award-winning brewery. Worth a visit if you’re into full-flavour IPAs and complex tasting beers.

Liberty Brewing Co, Helensville

Famous brews incoming! Have you tried the Yakima Monster Pale Ale? Sampled the Citra Double IPA? No? You should. Get down to Helensville stat and wrap your mouth around some hazy citrus notes, knock-your-socks-off 9% alc/vol stuff. Helensville is about 40 kilometres out of Auckland, so Liberty Brewing Co is perfect for a day trip. Yeeww!

Rhyme and Reason, Wanaka

Eurgh, Wanaka is just too good looking. Add a ‘hoppy’ hour special into the mix and it just might be my favourite place in the world. The Rhyme and Reason brewpub is a local favourite for a reason – serving up tasting paddles and pints from 10 taps, lots of tasty grub and an epic beer garden featuring giant Jenga. What more could you want from a Sunday arvo session?

Emerson’s Brewery, Dunedin

All hail Emerson’s, arguably the godfather of NZ’s craft beer scene. Making ale since the 90s, Emerson’s Brewery and Taproom is now a state-of-the-art restaurant, bar (with more than 20 beers matched to a menu item) and a cellar door taproom. There’s a beer to suit every tastebud here, and you can even get a tour of this fine establishment – just make sure to nab a booking in advance.

Pictured above is Emerson’s Tiny Pub, which pops up at different locations across New Zealand on different dates. Be sure to see where it’s roaming to during your trip here.

Panhead Custom Ales, Wellington

Set up in an old Dunlop tyre factory, the Panhead crew live and breathe the petrol-head theme. They’re super hop-driven, making drops like the Port Road Pils and Quickchange XPA. Their taproom is located in Upper Hutt a foresty, rivery, green town just outside of Wellington. Swing by for burgers and beers. Delightful.

Has all this beer talk got you excited for a New Zealand brewery road trip (with a deso drive, of course)? Lucky for you, trips between NZ and Oz are a quarantine-free travel zone, so you can stop dreamin’ about it and finally do it.

Image: Instagram / @emersonbrewery