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The Insiders' Guide to the Dunedin Street Art Trail

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As a UNESCO Creative City, Dunedin has a rich history in the arts and making it freely available to enjoy. Home to NZ’s first public art gallery and art society, it was only a matter of time before Dunedin jumped on the street art movement, taking art out of the galleries and into the streets.

People take photos of a large mural depicting children catching clouds with a butterfly net.

The Dunedin Street Art Festival kicked things off in 2014 when local and international artists were invited to add some colour and culture to ten city walls. Now, murals are popping up all over the city, with more than 50 pieces of commissioned work in Central Dunedin alone.

Experience these vibrant, whimsical artworks by following a self-guided Dunedin Street Art Trail. Venture down laneways, past heritage buildings, find hidden microbreweries, boutique shops or grab a coffee (or two) along the way. Tackle the trail in sections, do it in loop, or pick out a few of your favourites – either way, it’s a great way to soak up the stories of Dunedin, or simply admire the abstract.

Insiders’ tip: If self-guided isn’t your style, you can instead take a guided city walking tour which has elements of the street art trail included.

A colourful mural on hoarding wrapped around the bottom half of the Dunedin Municipal Chambers.

The Octagon is in the centre of the city and is not only home to restaurants, shops, and cafes, but also some amazing works of art and architecture. It’s almost impossible to overlook the incredible colourful mural wrapped around the historic Municipal Chambers building.

Created as an activation during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Fan Festival, the mural was inspired by the poem Intuit, by Iona Winter. A celebration of women during the tournament, the mural was a collaboration by six different women painters; Miriama Grace-Smith, Xoë Hall and Gina Kiel (Dream Girls Art Collective), Devon Smith, Aroha Novak and Kell Sunshine, while Winter’s words adorn the top of the artwork.

The mural will remain for about five years while strengthening work is undertaken at the Chambers, meaning this impressive piece won’t be around forever.

The interior of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery
A young woman admires the Ko Te Tuhono gateway sculpture in the Octagon as she walks through it.
The Dunedin Municipal Chambers clocktower and the street art hoarding around its base.

The Octagon is also home to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the first public art gallery in the country. The gallery houses New Zealand’s oldest public art collection. Old masters feature in its permanent collection alongside significant works by Dunedin and national artists such as Ralph Hotere and Frances Hodgkins.

In a laneway off to the side of the art gallery building is a long piece of street art created by various artists depicting the history of Ōtepoti Dunedin. It blends Māori, Scottish and Chinese elements and motifs highlighting the different cultures that have influenced the city becoming what it is today.

In the centre of the Octagon is another significant piece of public art, Ko te Tūhono. The commanding archway by Ayesha Green (Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu) pays homage to mana whenua (the local Maori of the area). Described as ‘a doorway of different dimensions’ Ko te Tūhono represents a passage into the landscape, life and wairua (spirit) of this place. In the words of Green, “When you move through Ko te Tūhono, you are inside and outside, you are coming and going.”

A watercolour mural of music artist Ed Sheeran on a wall to the left and another mural of a tuatara to the bottom right, underneath a twilight sky.

Bath Street, just off the Octagon, is home to a pair of adjacent murals. The watercolour Ed Sheeran mural by Tyler Kennedy Stent (NZ), and one of the first commissioned pieces of street art, the tuatara, by Belgian artist ROA.

If you’re feeling peckish, grab a snack or coffee from The Swan or The Wayfarer or a cheeky midday marguerita from Amigos.

Moray Place, which is essentially the outer ring of the Octagon, and arguably more Octagonally shaped than the aforementioned central plaza, is another great spot to explore on the trail.

Take in the mural by Aroha Novak and Guy Howard Smith before popping into the First Church of Dunedin across the road.

Saunter down the monochromatic alleyway adorned with Phlegm’s (UK) creepy kakapo on your way to get tapas from Indigo Room or a tipple from Pequeño, or settle in for a treat at The Kitchen Table, which has views of works by both Phlegm and Nespoon (Poland).

A neon blue light saying Indigo Room shines on a street art-adorned alley.
Street art by Phlegm depicts two creatures riding a moa.
A UV paint mural lit up at night by blacklight depicts a noctural scene.

Insiders' tip: If you happen to be roaming the city after dark, we recommend finding your way to what may be the first UV street art in the country, painted by Bruce Mahalski on the side if the Victoria Hotel.

The Exchange area around lower Princes Street, Stafford Street and the Scenic Hotel Southern Cross is another cluster of street art. Pixel Pancho’s (Italy) steampunk jockey commands a huge wall on Jetty Street while DALeast (China) paid homage to the impressive extinct aerial predator the Haast eagle in his Stafford Street piece.

Bik Ismo’s (Puerto Rico) metallic charging bull adorns a wall just off Queens Garden between Dowling Street and Rattray Street. Further up Rattray you’ll find works by BEZT (Poland) depicting a European fairytale, the yellow fever-dream work by Jacob Yikes (NZ) and a mural dedicated to Chinese businessman Chin Fooi and the early Māori market traders.

A mural in a carpark depicts a woman dying in a field of flowers.

On the other side, possibly the tallest street art depicts cloud-catching children by Fintan Magee (AU). In this area you’ll also find the historic Speight’s Brewery, which takes guided tours.

Princes Street is home to several boutiques and shops including the artisans of No Name Alley. On the street is a butcher and a baker [enter obligatory candlestick-maker joke here] while around the back, the street-art adorned laneway is home to microbrewery Steamer Basin and modern natural apothecary Wild Dispensary. Be sure to enjoy the innovative works by late street artist Be Free (AU).

A large mural depicts a blue Aquanaut holding a plant.
People enjoy al fresco beers in the courtyard of Steamer Basin Brewery in No Name Alley.
Creatures by Cracked Ink on the side of a building at the start of No Name Alley

Across the one-way towards Vogel Street is another cluster of street art in the heritage Warehouse Precinct.  The Warehouse Precinct is full of renovated and refurbished heritage buildings housing cafés, burger joints, accountants, law firms and offices.

During the development of this area public art became a priority and plain concrete canvasses were splashed with colour.

Insiders' tip: In Dunedin, hospitality and the arts go hand in hand and many cafés on the street art trail double as galleries or feature large windows, allowing for great views of murals, like The Olive Branch, Vanguard Specialty Coffee, Vogel Street Kitchen and Heritage Coffee.

Blue and yellow street art seen through the window of Wild Dispensary.

Across the overpass towards the Harbour Basin, you find another collection of large murals and after you’ve taken a few snaps you can take a tasting tour at the craft distillery or boutique chocolatier across the road.

For a more detailed rundown of the street art pieces in these areas pick up our Dunedin Street Art Trail Guide from the Dunedin isite.

Outside of the walkable central city trail, there is also plenty of street art to be found all over Dunedin, including in North Dunedin, the student precinct, St Clair and South Dunedin.