Dunedin Destination Guide
A charming and compact city, Dunedin is known for its grand Victorian and Edwardian architecture, compelling history of gold rushes, proud Scottish influence and unique wildlife (think the fascinating yellow-eyed penguins). Nestled in Otago Harbour on New Zealand’s South Island, Dunedin was designed to emulate the characteristics of Scotland’s famous Edinburgh. These qualities, fused with the region’s easy-going coastal lifestyle and the spectacular treasures of the Otago Peninsula, make ‘The Edinburgh of the South’ a very fine holiday destination indeed.
Charming architecture, outdoor adventures, educational museums and gorgeous beaches are the attractions to look forward to when visiting Dunedin. History buffs and cultural fiends should make a beeline for Otago Museum. As Dunedin’s most visited attraction, Otago Museum provides an enlightening and entertaining way to discover the rich human history, cultural treasures and captivating wildlife specimens of the South Island and beyond.
Dunedin’s spectacular coastline and varied beaches draw an abundance of beachgoers year after year. Families and surfers can enjoy the pleasing surfing and swimming conditions at popular Brighton beach, while youngsters will be drawn to St. Clair with its buzzing esplanade and cosmopolitan vibe.
Dunedin’s great outdoors will keep families and adrenalin junkies entertained with fishing, wildlife watching, hiking and biking, and trips to local eco sanctuaries such as Orokonui Ecosanctuary. Meet the rare and very cute native birds and reptiles that call this protected forest haven home. Take to the walking trails and discover the sights, sounds, peace and tranquility of this wilderness paradise. The sanctuary is located just 20 minutes north of Dunedin.
Dunedin’s main street, George Street, is where you’ll find plenty of cheap eats from Japanese to Thai, as well as funky cafés, restaurants and fast food joints. Known as ‘The Octagon’, the city centre is an 8-sided plaza and home to Dunedin’s nightlife.
Pull up a stool at one of the many bars, pubs and live music venues for a rollicking night out. The local culinary specialty is kumara chips (sweet potato fries), so if you notice them on the menu be sure to swap the usual French fries for a delicious snack with a Kiwi twist. And, of course, don’t forget to sample the local fish and chips.
Where to Stay
Much of the accommodation in Dunedin is either centrally located or within easy walking distance of the city centre, so wherever you stay you won’t be too far from the action. However, for a more unique experience, choose to stay further out in any number of private guesthouses, lodges, estates and holiday houses that look out over the magnificent Otago Peninsula.
Combine shopping with brunching and a little sightseeing when you head to the popular Otago Farmers’ Market, which is held in the car park of the drop-dead gorgeous Dunedin Railway Station every Saturday morning. This colossal bluestone structure is thought to be the most photographed building in all of New Zealand, so be sure to bring your camera to snap it for yourself. Back at the market, get set to shop for local organic produce as you munch on freshly made treats washed down with great coffee.
For those who prefer their wares with a little character, vintage and antique shops are sprinkled around the city. If you’re after an all-in-one shopping experience, Meridian Mall in the CBD offers a number of well-known department stores, while Wall Street Mall delivers boutique shopping under a central atrium.
Dunedin Like a Local
To experience Dunedin like a local, hire a car, pack up a picnic and set out to explore the vast, wild and rugged beauty of the Otago Peninsula. Famed for its wildlife reserves and colony of Northern Royal Albatross, this is the best way to experience southern New Zealand in all its spectacular glory. Be sure to visit New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle, on your journey through this striking natural wonderland.