Who needs theme parks when Dunedin has so many amazing activities and attractions for families to explore. Wild creatures, a living maze, hands-on edu-tainment fun, a fairy-tale castle and loads of fresh air… need we say more? Crank up the fun-o-metre with some of the following ideas:
See Dunedin from a kids-eye-view and you’ll quickly discover that this is a place packed with wonder. But don’t take our word for it, we brought in the local experts to share their top tips on the best things to do and see in the city.
Cuddle with miniature cattle and super cute alpacas, sheep, ducks and more on the family-friendly Iconic Farm Tour, easily accessible from central Dunedin, just 15 minutes from central Dunedin in West Harbour's Sawyers Bay.
Jump on board a Port to Port wildlife cruise and spot all the creatures that inhabit the area. Pack a picnic and be transported to Quarantine Island for the day, the perfect play-space to spark imaginative pirate games and go on a treasure hunt, or try the Volcano tour complete with on-board volcano making.
Explore the stunning views overlooking the Otago Harbour from horse back, with a family-friendly horse trekking experience suitable for all levels of riders. Great for kids and adults alike, the gentle trails and spectacular scenery make for an unforgettable day out.
A fun activity for kids and adults alike, the Otago Museum’s Tūhura science centre has over 45 hands-on interactives, including a giant DNA-inspired helical slide, and a three-tier tropical butterfly enclosure, plus a multi-screen, laser-activated Beautiful Science gallery. There's more to explore throughout the rest of the museum's fascinating galleries, with all manner of exhibits including the Animal Attic, a throw back to the Victorian days when taxidermy was in vogue.
Let little imaginations run wild at New Zealand's only castle, where the magical buildings and grounds are full of hidden places to explore. A great day out for the whole family, the kids will love climbing up the turret and spying the wondrous views out over the Otago Peninsula, followed by a sweet treat in the Ballroom Cafe.
*During the school holidays kids go free with a paying adult, with no limit on the number of children, as long as they are part of the same family.
A one-stop family entertainment destination in Mosgiel, Wal's Fun Land is an easy place to spend an entire day between the brand new living hedge maze modelled off the famed Leeds Castle maze, mini-golf, mini-train (on Sundays), real fruit ice-creams, cafe and plant nursery.
Get your harness on and tackle the walls at Dunedin's two family friendly indoor climbing destinations. The latest to open is bouldering gym - Resistance Climbing - in Moray Place. There's also family favourite Clip 'n' Climb which features the Leap trampoline attraction in the same space.
Another great family-friendly option to spend half a day exploring the interactive exhibits kids can climb aboard a vintage tram or trolleybus, wander around a replica sailing ship cabin and dress up in period costume, top tip: the cafe does a great line in cheese rolls and lolly cake.
Dunedin has many parkland gardens with peaceful surroundings and fun playgrounds. Closest to the central city, you’ll find the Dunedin Botanic Garden, with its fairy-tale statues, fountains and aviary, and Woodhaugh Gardens which has a paddling pool, a babbling stream and a small network of bushwalks.
The Dunedin Ice Stadium offers year-round indoor public ice-skating sessions with full equipment hire, that are always a hit with the kids. Wobble, stumble or glide around the rink to upbeat tunes and disco lights and for absolute beginners there are skating aids available to hire. The new ice-bumper cars are especially fun, yet deceptively tricky to manoeuvre.
As the sun begins to go down, find Leith Valley Road and a delicate Dunedin treasure. A fifteen-minute walk through darkening native bush will bring you to the Nicholls Creek glow worms. There is a little creek to cross at the top and the drop to the right gets steeper as you walk up, so take a torch and sensible shoes, and a close eye on any small adventurous types. Be respectful and peaceful while visiting the glow worms as they are easily disturbed, and turn off your torch or they’ll sulk and stop shining.
Find your way to Leith Valley Glow Worms
Dunedin has a rich history in the arts and in making art freely available for all to enjoy. It is unsurprising, then, that the city is now embracing street art, with an increasing number of blank walls being transformed into works of art by local and international artists. Experience these vibrant, whimsical artworks by following the self-guided Dunedin street art trail.
Currently there are over 50 walls across the city, mostly concentrated around the Warehouse Precinct and CBD with plenty of cafes along the way for tasty pit stops for the family. The most comprehensive guide is the Street Art Cities map
Still the world's steepest street despite nearly losing the title to a small town in Wales. Baldwin Street's famed incline, is tucked away in suburban North East Valley and runs up the northern side of Signal Hill. Challenge the family to race to the top and stop for a selfie to prove you made it. Try counting the steps; it takes about ten minutes, just to walk about 350 metres! But don't worry, there's a drinking fountain at the top. Insiders tip - walking backwards is heaps easier!
Teleport your family’s taste buds with North Dunedin’s Beam Me Up Bagels – there’s a flavour to fit everyone and it's so popular a second outlet has opened up in Great King Street. Patti's and Cream in Mornington brings all the treats with it's delicious homemade ice-cream and Gelato Junkie in the Octagon serves up authentic Italian gelato. Good Good serves up doses of happiness in the form of delicious burgers, chicken tenders and tator tots in their groovy neon lit eatery, a sure-fit hit with the kids every time. If all you need is an awesome feed of fish and chips, stop by the retro Best Cafe for a dine in treat or grab some to go and head out on an adventure.
Check out Deliver Easy for the many restaurants and cafes that will take your favourite foods right to your doorstep or even to your picnic blanket and our eat and drink pages have a huge selection of options to choose from.
Every neighbourhood in Dunedin seems to have a playground and some are swinging, sliding, twirling gems that get you literally climbing the walls with excitement.