A lushly forested suburban hideaway, the Leith Valley has more than a few hidden gems tucked beneath its canopy of green. These include the Woodhaugh Gardens, the Water of Leith and the beautifully serene Ross Creek Reservoir.
Dunedin’s Tropical Lagoons
You don’t need to go to the Pacific Islands to find a tropical lagoon, when the conditions are right both Purakanui Inlet and Blueskin Bay turn into the local equivalent. Visit during high tide a while after the shallow estuaries have filled with seawater and relish the warm-ish waters. It’s also a beautiful place, full-stop.
A spectacular stroll that runs from Highcliff Road down to Smails Beach, the Karetai Track combines epic views of the dramatic sea cliffs, historic stonewall fences and Dunedin’s city coastline. Well worth a visit just for the photos alone.
With panaromic views over the city and the ocean beyond, Signal Hill is a favourite location for #dunnerstunner selfies. From this vantage point you can really appreciate just how picturesque Dunedin is and if you’re keen on mountain biking it also happens to be the location of some of the best downhill tracks around.
Yes, that’s right, Middlemarch too, is considered part of Dunedin, so not only can you explore all the glorious coastal gems, but also the sweeping mountain ranges and wide-open skies of this stunning rural area. Take a drive or the Taieri Gorge train excursion for that matter and explore this quaint slice of hinterland Dunedin. Swing by Sutton Salt Lake for the obligatory Insta shot.
Head north of Dunedin to the seaside hamlet of Karitane and you’ll discover the beautiful and culturally significant Huriawa Peninsula. This picturesque promontory was once the site of a Maori Pa (village), traces of which are evident in the landscape. With a meandering coastal path, 360 views and sea arches on the far tip, it’s a pretty amazing place to visit. What’s more Karitane village has an excellent local store Salt & Sugar that sells wood-fired pizza, ice creams and more, so stop in to pick up impromptu picnic fodder while you’re there.
Explore the far reaches of the Otago Peninsula and take in the gorgeous coastal scenery from the new viewing platform overlooking Allans Beach, Hoopers Inlet, Mt Charles and inland to Harbour Cone. The platform is a 50-minute walk along the Lovers Leap track and if you’re feeling energetic, you can also do the Sandymount track from the same starting point.
Nothing beats this Garden on a good day. Its brim full of secret havens to explore, leafy green dells to cool down in, and lawns to luxuriate on. A lesser-known treasure within its borders is the Mediterranean pool and fountain on a small plaza in the upper gardens, you’ll be instantly transported to Tuscany.
Designed to encourage peaceful contemplation, the Lan Yuan Dunedin Chinese Garden is a sheltered retreat where you can settle yourself by the pond, watch the carp swim by, hear the breeze through the willow and let the upward sweep of the curved roofline carry your gaze to the heavens. Sample traditional Chinese beverages and food in the tea house, leaf through the books in the library or simply sit.
Talented international and local artists are increasingly taking advantage of the many Dunedin buildings that have bare walls to play with. Wander the inner city streets and witness the growing number of airy artworks – there’s over 100 to seek out. Humorous, cheeky and dramatic works are often placed to take you by surprise, making clever use of quirky design features in the built ‘canvas’. The central city street art trail takes you under shady shop front verandas, into sheltered alleyways, up crooked stairways and down cool side streets.
Wander past Speights Brewery on Rattray Street and you will often see people filling containers of water from the free tap that brings cool, clear spring water up from the earth. Refill your water bottle there during your Dunedin explorations, and chat to those home-brewers who swear by the spring for its excellent qualities. You can make donations after you’ve filled up, supporting Speights’ efforts to help plant natives along New Zealand rivers, lakes and streams.
With mosaic-tile floors, glorious stained glass windows and handsome bluestone exteriors, this centrally located Dunedin icon is well worth exploring. It’s home to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame with its tales of sporting greats. The Otago Art Society displays a changing selection of art works by its members. Dunedin Railways operated tourist trains from the station to Central Otago and the northern Otago coast. The station has a bustling Cobb & Co. restaurant, a real favourite with families. The knot garden leading toward the station is always a seasonal delight.
Dunedin is blessed with one of the world’s oldest town belts, a green belt of over 200 hectares planted with exotic and native trees and home to many birds. The Town Belt contains several parks and linked up walking tracks which provide pedestrian access to steep streets which lead down to the CBD. Dunedin’s hills give an infinite variety of vistas of the inner city, harbour, Pacific Ocean, diverse residential streets, and the surrounding countryside including Mount Cargill and Flagstaff. Take a drive or stroll through the area roughly enclosed by Princes St/George St, Eglinton Rd, Highgate and Pine Hill Rd and discover another reason why people love living in Dunedin.