Fondly referred to as "Central" by the locals, the Manuherekia Brewery is nestled in the heart of Central Otago, just outside of Alexandra. The awe inspiring snow-capped mountains along with the schist rock and thyme covered hills, set the backdrop to the Manuherekia River that runs from both the St Bathans Range and the Hawkdun Range through the Manuherekia Valley to Alexandra where it joins the Clutha River.
The water for our beer is sourced from the rain that falls on the parched mountains encompassing the Manuherekia valley which slowly percolates through the ground into the Manuherekia claybound aquifer. We source this water from a well adjacent to the brewery from 60 metres below the surface. The water emerges crystal clear and ready for beer.
The Manuherekia River is a significant river (Awa) to Ngai Tahu. The area was a significant seasonal destination for coastal people to hunt waterfowl and eels. The area encompasses many small streams if importance to Runanga. Trails link the Manuherekia Valley with Ophir, Omakau and Thomson Gorge. Whanau or Hapu groups would utilise the Mata-au/Clutha River to swiftly travel back down to the coast on mokihi (reeds) rafts or korari (flax stalk rafts), bringing pounamu/greenstone, foods preserved over the late summer and autumn and other taonga (treasure).
In the period when moa where hunted, hunting parties would also had frequented the areas as evidenced by numerous moa remains found at locations throughout Central Otago. The area was particularly utilised for its wahi kohatu (quarry site), including silcrete and porcellanite which naturally occur in the rocky outcrops of the area. These resources where highly sort after for tool making.
European and Chinese History
After the discovery of gold in Central Otago in the 1800's, the area was populated with many people of mainly European and Chinese descent searching for their fortune. A railway was brought from Dunedin. After a miners hard day of work, brought the requirement of cold refreshments and in 1870 the Manuherekia Brewery was born in Alexandra. Unfortunately after several years production the brewery closed down. Remnants of the site can be seen opposite the camping ground in Alexandra.
After the gold rush, farming became the norm, water races that once where used to sluice gold where converted to irrigate the parched pastures of the area. Years have passed and now the area has entered a new phase with orchards and vineyards being developed and the railway being converted to a trail which is now a tourist attraction.