Culture & Heritage

The taste of nature in a nip: world class gins made in New Zealand

There’s been a world-wide renaissance in gin and Kiwi distillers are setting the trends. A number of passionate producers have been busy harnessing New Zealand’s unique native botanicals to create some truly tasty gins.

Gin has recently had a remarkable turnaround, especially in New Zealand. The centuries-old liquor has moved on from its roots and become a top-shelf offering with artisanal distilleries popping up in all corners of the country.

New Zealand Gin distillers have been busy exploring the uniquely biodiverse countryside and are using the native botanicals they’ve discovered to experiment with and create some truly one-of-a-kind tastes. Here’s some you really should sample…


Juno Gin – Taranaki 
“It’s like a recipe for happiness” is how Jo and Dave James describe their handiwork. Based in Taranaki, gin distillery Juno make delicious award-winning gins with hand-selected botanicals picked locally. They use Mānuka in all their gins to create its special flavour, and have created a number of seasonal varieties using Horopito and Kawakawa. Their philosophy is to use botanicals grown in New Zealand as much as possible. They even embarked on
The Great New Zealand Juniper Hunt to seek out Kiwi-grown Juniperus Communis trees so that commercial juniper berry cropping could be established in New Zealand. Their Extra Fine signature range gin has been a huge hit around the world.

Little Biddy Gin – Reefton Distilling Co – West Coast South Island
What do Toatoa, Tarata, Horopito, and Rimu trees all have in common? They’re all found in the rugged West Coast forests of New Zealand’s South Island, and they’re also the flavours that are found in Reefton Distilling Co’s famous Little Biddy Gin. The gin was inspired by West Coast legend, Bridget ‘Biddy’ Goodwin, who was a gin-toting, four-foot-tall female gold prospector in Reefton in the 1800s. The distillers’ forage for native botanicals deep in the same West Coast rainforest where Biddy once fossicked for gold. The end result? A world-class selection of small batch, distinctly Kiwi gins, distilled with attitude.

Island Gin – Great Barrier Gin
She’s known by her gin tasters as Madame Distiller; Andi Ross of Island Gin, located on New Zealand’s Aotea Great Barrier Island, started playing around with gin flavours in her remote solar-powered beach shack. After using foraged lemons from a tree seeded by an early shipwreck and many other local flavours, Andi settled on Great Barrier Island Mānuka honey and bush honey, which is now the profile signature of the first original Island Gin. Andi thinks of it as ‘the spirit of Aotea’ and continues to craft her award-winning gin in a copper still, living off the grid, five hours by barge off the New Zealand mainland.

Dancing Sands – Sauvignon Blanc Gin – Golden Bay
Sauvignon Blanc, isn’t that a wine? Golden Bay’s Dancing Sands Distillery, was determined to capture the iconic Kiwi flavour in Gin. Using a state-of-the-art distillation technique, they were able to preserve the famous flavours of New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc wine, and blend it with their Dry Gin. The gin smells like Sauvignon Blanc while giving way to hints of juniper berries and coriander seeds. They’re one of New Zealand’s most awarded distilleries, but readily admit they start with an unfair advantage – they use the same water source that feeds the clearest spring in the world, the Dancing Sands Spring, one of the springs within Golden Bay’s Te Waikoropupū Springs. Dancing Sands are also known across the industry for making bold and unique gin flavours like Wasabi and Chocolate.

Looking for a place where you can taste nature in a nip of gin? We know a place.