Marchfest, Nelson

hops on the vine
hops on the vine

Hops grow in Nelson so it’s a perfect place to have a craft beer festival with flavourful ales. Add sunshine and music and you’ve got Marchfest!

The festival is set in Founders Heritage Park, a village housing a number of buildings with historic themes and a short heritage railway. Part museum, part garden there was plenty to entertain us between beer tastings. The Q300 airplane and tram were open for a walk-through and ride, respectively, but the trackers were display only.

The day’s focal point was the large beer garden in the center of the park. Local brewers created 15 special beers for the occasion.  I peaked at the Marchfest website in advance and arrived with a preliminary list of beers to try and found out that one of them, Hopper’s Delight, was limited to two kegs.  I made a beeline for that once we’d picked up our glasses and purchased tokens. By the end of the day I’d sampled all but one of the limited edition beers.

  • American IPA, Dale’s, IPA, ** (Beer Name, Brewery, Style, my rating on 3* scale)
  • Belgian Blonde Ale, Moa, Belgian Ale, **
  • Caprnoited Daze, Golden Bear, IPA, *
  • Ferreter’s Tonic, Townshend’s, Real Ale, *
  • Green Hopped Pilsner, Totara, Pilsner, **
  • Hopper’s Delight, Lighthouse, Lager, **
  • Indian Pale Kolsch, Renaissance/Liberty/Panhead, Kolsch, ***
  • ‘Nuka, Summerfield & Bayley, Lager, *
  • Rowdy, Eddyline, Pale Ale, ***
  • Rushin Cur, Mussel Inn, Stout, **
  • Sunday Session, McCashin’s, Pale Ale, ***
  • Wheat and Greet, Founders, Dark Wheat, *
  • White IPA, Sprig & Fern/Hallertau, White IPA ***
  • XPLidocious, Hop Federation, Extra Pale Lager, **

Dates: 18-20 March 2016
Travel with: Allen
Weather: forecasted rain, but we had beautiful sunshine! 70s
Accommodation: Nelson YHA, a nice 40-minute walk from the festival location

St Mary's
St Mary’s


  • Marchfest
  • Palm Sunday Mass at St Mary’s in the Holy Family parish (incorrect time on their website)

Food & Drink:

  • Sprig & Fern Milton Street
  • The Free House (!) – love their craft beer selection and chunky chips
  • River Kitchen
  • Subway
  • Lamberttas – only had time for takeaway coffee, but their pies look amazing!

Transportation: Air New Zealand, Super Shuttle, taxi

Founders Heritage Park
Founders Heritage Park