- Time travel
Who needs Europe when you can check out similar grand architecture and history in Dunedin? Also known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin’s gothic buildings, beautiful cathedrals and quirky appeal are a hallmark of its early days as one of New Zealand’s first and most prosperous cities. It’s no surprise that visitors from the Northern Hemisphere feel at home here. Enjoy a sumptuous high tea in the castle ballroom or gardens, take a tour of Olveston which boasts an incredible collection of art and antiques from around the globe or simply stroll the downtown streets admiring other heritage highlights such as the ornate Dunedin Railway Station.
- Glimpse rare wildlife
Head to Dunedin for a safari of a very different kind and glimpse some of the most endangered creatures in the world in their natural habitat. New Zealand is blessed with species that some travel the world to see, yet many Kiwis haven’t taken the opportunity to discover the amazing animals that are literally on our doorstep. The Otago Peninsula is an exceptional area of bio-diversity, where rare yellow-eyed penguins nest on the far reaches alongside the resident sheep and Hooker sealions loll about on beaches. Witness the majestic Northern Royal Albatross at the world’s only mainland breeding colony, watch in awe as adorable little blue penguins come in from a day of fishing or take a more adventurous approach with a 4WD Argo tour. Many of wildlife experiences in Dunedin are also active in conservation and habitat restoration, so your entry fee contributes to the preserving these species for generations to come.
- Reach for the stars
Watch the heavens unfold before you while exploring the renowned dark skies of the Otago Peninsula and wider Dunedin. Horizon Tours weave a magical experience by sharing Maori tales of the celestial bodies and waiata under the stars, as you sit in snugly wrapped in blankets, plied with hot soup and garlic bread. If you prefer your star-gazing from the comfort of indoors, then the 360-degree Perpetual Guardian Planetarium at the Otago Museum has you covered.
- Indulge in a touch of culture
If its museums and other cultural diversions you’re after, you’ll find many options to divert you in Dunedin. The award-winning Otago Museum houses a fascinating collection of local and international artefacts and a regular programme of international exhibitions. Kids will spend hours in the museum’s Tuhura interactive science centre, where the double helix slide and live butterfly forest are particular favourites. At Toitu Settlers Museum the interactive exhibits expertly mingles the early history of Dunedin’s settler population with installations from more recent times, complete with trolleybuses and vintage caravans. There’s more where that came from too, the Dunedin Chinese Gardens, Museum of Natural Mystery and much more….
- Eat, drink and be merry
Dunedin punches well above its weight in the culinary stakes. For a relatively petite city, there are a huge and fabulously eclectic range of eateries from quirky cafes and miniature bars through to sophisticated restaurants. Locally sourced produce is something of a mantra and luckily the city has no shortage of ocean and pasture from which to draw fresh ingredients. Grab a table at one of the sea-side cafes in St Clair or the hilltop enclave of Roslyn, otherwise wander the Warehouse Precinct for funky establishments with awesome coffee and make your way down to the Octagon, where you’ll find al fresco seating and excellent people watching. Voted the best market of its kind in New Zealand, the Otago Farmers Market is where foodies gather for their weekly treats. With a focus on local artisan producers, there is a mouth-watering selection of fresh produce, cheeses, baked goods, chocolate, dips and sauces, honey, meats and of course coffee on offer.
- Explore the natural wonders
As far as amazing natural attractions go, Dunedin has more than its fair share, but surprisingly many of these wonders of geological architecture aren’t very widely known outside of the city. Tunnel Beach has risen to Instagram fame for its ruggedly romantic appeal and air of secrecy and the Otago Peninsula is a marvel in itself, with fascinating formations such as the Pyramids, just a little off the beaten track. The elusive sea arches of Doctors Point and the spectacular stroll around the Huriawa Peninsula are matched in magnificence by the dramatic surrounds of the Organ Pipes or Sutton Salt Lake. Take a drive in any direction to discover special places tucked away amidst the hills and coastline.
- Art big and small
Grab a map and explore Dunedin’s outstanding Street Art Trail which is brilliantly woven through the central city and Warehouse Precinct, making for surprising discoveries around every corner. If you’re looking for expert commentary along the way, Small City Big Walls street art tour is a great way to experience the city through its street art. Art buffs will also enjoy the plethora of galleries, studios and exhibitions dotted around the wider city including the exceptional Dunedin Public Art Gallery.