Oamaru may be well-known for blue penguins and steampunk, but Sue Cameron-Duncan believes beer can be added to that list, too.

The owner of the Criterion Hotel in Harbour St has organised Oamaru's first beer festival, Hops on Harbour, which takes place in the Victorian precinct on Saturday between 11.30am and 4.30pm.

The festival has attracted 11 breweries from around the lower South Island and beyond, including Oamaru-based Craftwork Brewery, Dunedin's Emerson's Brewery and Garage Project, while two wineries and the New Zealand Whisky Company, also based in Oamaru, will be on hand.

Mrs Cameron-Duncan said all was in readiness for the inaugural event.


''Everyone is locked and loaded and now we are just waiting for Saturday, really. Tickets are selling well so there's not too many left.''

The festival will act as a fundraiser for the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust, the organisation that owns and maintains buildings in the Victorian precinct.

''I wanted to do something for the trust - and I guess something that hasn't been done before,'' Mrs Cameron-Duncan said of her decision to organise the festival.

''Beer festivals are the thing at the moment, I guess. I know a lot of local brewers and we have local people who make great beer, so we were able to include locals and people from further afield which is great.''

She said that craft beer had ''taken off'' in New Zealand, and there were breweries dotted around the country producing beers to suit virtually all tastes.

In addition to being able to sample a range of craft beers, those attending the festival can also look forward to live music and enjoy the judging of a beard-growing competition for the longest beard, the ''seediest'' moustache and female facial hair.

Mrs Cameron-Duncan believed the festival would be a success and was confident it could become an annual event for Oamaru.