World-class wildlife experiences and an intriguing cultural history blend in a beautiful city situated in the deep south of New Zealand’s South Island.
In the far southeast of the South Island, Dunedin is a fascinating city that invites lingering exploration. Nineteenth-century stone architecture forms a dignified backdrop to a sophisticated modern culture, and the student population in this university city adds a colourful and vibrant element to local culture. From world-class museums and galleries, to fantastic shopping and unparalleled wildlife experiences, Dunedin is an essential destination for any visitor.
Widely regarded as the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian city in the Southern Hemisphere, Dunedin is the perfect place to explore New Zealand’s colonial history.
Two excellent museums – Otago Museum and Otago Settlers Museum – offer a glimpse into the fascinating cultural heritage of the Otago region. Visitors can also taste history at New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle, or at Olveston Historic House. Dunedin is also home to some of New Zealand’s top fashion designers – this is an excellent place for shopping – and to a great selection of cafés and restaurants.
On the Otago Peninsula, right on the city’s doorstep, wildlife rules – this is an area known internationally for its wildlife and for its world-class eco experiences, from boat cruises to view seals, dolphins and penguins, to visiting the only mainland Royal Albatross colony in the world. In the other direction, inland from Dunedin City, a rugged hinterland forms a gateway to the Central Otago region. The Taieri Gorge Railway, a spectacular rail journey through tunnels and gorges, is a popular way to experience this landscape.
Download the Dunedin & Otago section from New Zealand Trade Manual 2012Dunedin & Otago (from New Zealand Trade Manual 2012) (357)
Heritage buildings Dunedin is renowned for its many beautiful historic buildings, such as Larnach Castle and Olveston Historic House. The magnificent Royal Albatross With a wingspan of up to three metres, these ocean birds are an incredible sight and Otago Peninsula is home to the world’s only mainland colony. Mt Cargill in Dunedin’s north Climb to the top for spectacular views of the city. Taieri Gorge Railway See the rugged Taieri Gorge from the comfort of the train on this historic rail journey.
Flightseeing Take a chartered flight or helicopter ride to see the rugged Otago Peninsula from the air. Mountain biking The Otago Peninsula offers a range of challenging trails such as Buskin and Paradise Roads. Surfing Dunedin’s beaches are renowned for great surfing. Four-wheel-drive Take an off-road tour to get up-close to the rugged landscape.
Relax & Indulge
Taieri Gorge Railway (Dunedin) Historic rail journey with viaducts and tunnels dating back to 1879. www.taieri.co.nz Dunedin Casino (Dunedin) Beautiful boutique casino with ornate archways and mosaic floors. www.dunedincasino.co.nz Fortune Theatre (Dunedin) Enjoy a night out at the theatre in an historic Victorian building. www.fortunetheatre.co.nz Otago Golf Club: Balmacewen (Dunedin) Play a round on New Zealand’s oldest golf course. www.otagogolfclub.co.nz St Clair Salt Water Pool (Dunedin) – a great place to unwind in summer, phone +64 3 455 6352. Cadbury World (Dunedin) Indulge in chocolate treats and a factory tour. www.cadburyworld.co.nz
Corstorphine House (Dunedin) Heritage manor set on a large organic estate. www.corstorphine.co.nz Kaimata Retreat (Otago Peninsula) This retreat has breathtaking views of Papanui Inlet. www.kaimatanz.com
Otago Settlers Museum (Dunedin) One of New Zealand’s finest social history museums. www.otago.settlers.museum New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame (Dunedin) Sports lovers will get a thrill out of visiting this collection of sporting memorabilia. www.nzhalloffame.co.nz Zest Food Tours (Dunedin) Food tours including home cooking and whiskey/beer nights. www.zestfoodtours.co.nz
Natural New Zealand
Monarch Wildlife Cruise (Dunedin) View amazing marine wildlife from New Zealand Fur Seals to penguins. www.wildlife.co.nz Hiking Otago Peninsula offers a variety of trails, while Tunnel Beach Walkway is a great short walk. Dunedin Chinese Garden (Dunedin) An example of a late Ming, early Ching Dynasty Scholar’s Garden. www.dunedinchinesegarden.com
On a Budget
The Iconic Experience
Historic Dunedin architecture Explore one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
Dining & Shopping
Bell Pepper Blues (Dunedin) Superb dishes created by an internationally recognised chef. www.bellpepperblues.co.nz
Plato Café (Dunedin) Award-winning harbourfront eatery serving great seafood. www.platocafe.co.nz
Rhubarb (Dunedin) This busy little suburban café is a fantastic little place for lunch or brunch, phone +64 3 477 2555.
Alibi Bar & Restaurant (Dunedin) Great meals served in a friendly environment. www.alibibar.co.nz
Speight’s Ale House (Dunedin) Experience famous southern hospitality on the historic site of Speight’s Brewery. www.speights.co.nz
Shop or Gallery
Whiteroom Design Store (Dunedin) Browse an array of contemporary art and homeware, phone +64 3 477 7875.
3 days on the Otago Peninsula
Spend Day 1 exploring Larnach Castle and Larnach Gardens before heading to Glenfalloch Woodland Garden, stopping at Glenfalloch Café for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre then head to Allans Beach to join Sam’s Peninsula Off Road Tours and exploring the rugged landscape. On Day 2, tour the Royal Albatross Centre and Fort Taiaroa then tour Nature’s Wonders Naturally. Take a cruise with Monarch Wildlife and visit Penguin Place. On Day 3, go kayaking with Wild Earth Adventures and try a Twilight Wildlife Experience.
5 days in Dunedin & Coastal Otago
On Day 1, take a city tour with one of Dunedin’s tour operators. Enjoy lunch at The Speight’s Ale House and tour the Speight’s Brewery Heritage Centre. Afterwards, visit The Octagon and Dunedin Visitor Centre, visiting Dunedin Casino in the evening. On Day 2, head to the Peninsula, visiting Larnach Castle and the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and Aquarium. Back in the city, explore the Otago Museum and New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. Visit the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and finish the day at a haggis ceremony! On Day 3, tour the Royal Albatross Centre and Nature’s Wonders Naturally. Take a Monarch Wildlife Cruise and visit Penguin Place. On Day 4, tour Olveston Historic House and visit the Otago Settlers Museum. Take a rail journey with Taieri Gorge Railway. On Day 5, visit Cadbury World and Dunedin Botanic Gardens. Finish with a Passion for Fashion tour or explore the shops independently.
Otago Peninsula Take a drive out on the peninsula, visiting Larnach Castle and the Taiaroa Head Albatross Colony.
Dunedin Airport, 30 minutes from the city, offers a range of domestic flights to New Zealand destinations as well as trans-Tasman flights to Australia.
Dunedin is situated on State Highway One, and is five hours’ drive from Christchurch. It is one hour, 30 minutes from Oamaru and three hours, 10 minutes from Invercargill. Several coach companies provide regular services to the region. The centre of Dunedin is relatively compact so you can walk between many attractions, but taxi and bus services also operate.