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Shock for Aussies over prices of beer and wine

October 26, 2017 Headline News 3 Comments Email Email

Sampling local craft-brewed beers and regional wines on your wanderings is part of the joy of travel – but it comes as a shock when you encounter Australian-made beers and wines selling far cheaper overseas than you can buy them at home.

That seldom happens in Asia, where Australian wine (or any wine) can be expensive.

It does happen in New Zealand. Travellers staying at upmarket lodges and hotels may not notice the price difference, but budget travellers, including legions of backpackers, are amazed to find they can buy quality Australian wines and beers far cheaper in New Zealand than in Australia. Sometimes the price difference is 40%.

Not that there’s any need to buy an Aussie product in the Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand has a fabulous and growing range of craft-brewed, artisan beers, often made in the locality where you find them on tap.

Death from Above pale ale, 7.5%, brewed with mango, Vietnamese mint and chilli

Wellington’s Garage Project in Aro Street is a prime example. Try Death from Above, a superb pale ale, 7.5% ABV (very strong), including subtle hints of Vietnamese mint, chilli and mango. A new brew from Garage Project is Boss Level, which packs a powerful punch at 8.7% ABV. Delicious!

Barman Mike at Garage Project in Aro Street, Wellington

As for wines, New Zealand’s selection of whites and reds is legendary and the international awards they win are multiple.

If you happen to feel like an Australian beer or wine, however – surprise! You may find it cheaper than buying the same in Australia. This is a seldom-mentioned added bonus for visitors to New Zealand.

How is this possible?

There are all sorts of theories to explain it. Is it tax? Is it dumping? Is it the fact that you can buy beer and wine in any New Zealand supermarket or grocery store, whereas in Australia retailing is confined to liquor stores and bottle shops?

New Zealand locally brewed ales on display at Waimea restaurant, Waikanae

Who knows, but the pictures below tell the story, and the price difference is marked.

The beer I have chosen for the comparison is Coopers Sparkling Ale. It is 100% Australian, brewed and bottled in South Australia. It’s a long-established brew, a good drop with a loyal following. If you buy it in New Zealand, it’s imported from South Australia, not brewed locally under licence.

Here are some prices, recorded within days of each other in the same week in October 2017.

Firstly, here below is Coopers Sparkling Ale selling at a regular liquor store in Australia: Thirroul Village Cellars in a Wollongong suburb, south of Sydney. The price is AUD 19.99 for a six-pack.


And here (below) is the same beer selling at Dan Murphy’s in Wollongong. The price is AUD 21.79 for a six-pack.


Now here’s the clincher. The photo below shows that exactly the same beer is selling in Pak’NSave, a big supermarket in Paraparaumu about 80 kilometres north of Wellington New Zealand, at a vastly cheaper price.

The price in Paraparaumu is just NZD 13.89 for a six-pack. And note, that price is in New Zealand dollars. Converted to Australian dollars, Kiwis are paying just AUD 12.33 for a six-pack of Australia’s premium Coopers Sparkling Ale. That’s 40% cheaper than available anywhere in Australia.

Isn’t that strange!

Written by Peter Needham in Paekakariki, New Zealand

Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    The big surprise is Thirroul Cellars undercutting Dan Murphys. Being owned by Woolies, DM’s have enormous buying power, to the point where my local licensed club buys much of its grog from there because their retail price is lower than the wholesalers can offer my club. As for craft beer, you’re welcome to it. Paying double or triple the price of a regular beer just to get undertones of Vietnamese mint, chilli and mango? Gimme a break.

  2. Coastie says:

    Not sure how you could write this whole article without once mentioning the word TAX?

    Australia has some of the highest alcohol taxes in the world.

    Tax on beer in NZ $29 per litre of alcohol – in Australia $49 per litre of alcohol

  3. Peter Needham says:

    AgentGerko is right — craft beer is great as an occasional treat but it doesn’t come cheap. A pint of some of those brews can set you back more than a 6-pack of Coopers (in NZ, anyway!) Re that mint, chilli and mango – the flavour of those was only just detectable. (They say you can taste them better on your third pint.)

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