Dunedin winter days can be some of the most spectacular in terms of wildlife viewing and crisp clear days. Fuel up on an awesome café breakfast and head out among this wild, beautiful city.
The clear skies of winter are the perfect time to get out under the skies to take in epic views of the Milky Way. Drive just ten minutes out of the central city in almost any direction to find a good spot (remember to park out of the way of other vehicles). The Beverly Begg Observatory is open to the public every Sunday night throughout winter and offers a close-up glimpse of the heavens with the expert guidance of the Dunedin Astronomical Society. There are also a number of local operators and attractions that offer guided night sky experiences such as Horizon Tours and Karitane Maori Tours - both of which offer a unique Maori cultural perspective. The Otago Museum rounds out the experience with a visit to the 360 degree planetarium, which regularly screens fascinating 3D shows on a variety of topics, including space.
Just launched at Dunedin’s Orokonui Eco Sanctuary, this is an experience based on the healing way of Shinrin-yoku which means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing." It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Lush with native forest and birdlife, the sanctuary enjoys stunning views of the Silverpeaks Scenic Reserve and Blueskin Bay, providing a peaceful backdrop to practise forest bathing. No removal of clothing necessary!
Dunedin wildlife loves winter, so during the cooler months the local sea lions, yellow-eyed and little blue penguins, fur seals and albatross are completely in their element. The absolute best way to view these amazing creatures is with a guided tour as this is not only more informative and comfortable for you but also ensures the animals are not disturbed.
Explore the Dunedin Street Art Trail
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. Featuring works from local and internationally acclaimed street artists such as the UK’s Phlegm and Belgiums’s ROA, the artworks provide a colourful and quirky addition to this heritage city. Younger visitors might like to check out the latest addition in the shape of Ed Sheeran on Bath Street. Grab a free map from the iSITE or book a tour to find all the new and hidden pieces.
Frisbee golf fun
Beautiful Chingford Park in North-east Valley is home to fantastic trees, historic stone stables and a disc golf course designed to be a fun challenge for beginners and experienced players alike. There's a map of the course about 100 meters in off the main road. The map is just off to the right after you cross the little stream on the bridge. It's right beside the first tee. A playground and the meandering Lindsay’s Creek make this a great spot for all the family. Seek out golf discs from city sport shops and have a putt.
Winter on the Water
Facing the Pacific Ocean and blessed with the long beauty of Otago Harbour, Dunedin has plenty of year-round opportunity for enjoying time on the water. Boat tours can take you from the city to the Otago Peninsula headlands to spot rare royal albatross, cormorants, or frolicking sealions. You can hire full-body wetsuits and find out why Dunedin is known as a surfing mecca no matter what the season. If you want to ‘take a stand’, keep that wetsuit on and try the increasingly popular sport of paddle boarding on a calm harbour day.
Otago Farmers Market
Voted the best market of its kind in New Zealand, the Otago Farmers Market is a thriving community hub, 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. The popular stall-holders sell out early so get in quick on Saturday mornings at the Dunedin Railway Station.
Over thirty beaches lie within a 30-minute drive of Dunedin’s city centre, some with pristine white sand, some rocky with pools full of aquatic life. Their dramatic wintertime beauty is enhanced by wild cliffs, hills and caves and the cries of many seabird species, both plentiful and rare. We have beaches right beside the city, but your choice might take you through one of the many charming seaside towns, rural villages or harbourside hamlets within Dunedin’s extensive city limits.
Wrap up on a still Dunedin winters’ morning, jump on a bike and see the city reflected in Dunedin’s Otago Harbour from the harbourside’s ever-lengthening shared cycle and pedestrian paths. Then, top up your energy levels at a toasty-warm café and head into the city hillsides to one of the five mountain bike trail networks, great for beginner riders through to experts. Dunedin’s winters are often quite dry, making for firm, fun tracks. If you want a rural ride, then take a detour to Middlemarch and the stunning Otago Central Rail Trail. Flat, full of history and beautiful views, you can choose to ride 150km all the way to Central Otago or stop at country towns, offering friendly pubs, calm cafes and golden-hued landscapes.
The Otago Peninsula has been described as the finest example of eco-tourism in the world. You can observe fur seals, sea lions, rare yellow-eyed penguins as well as the only mainland colony of the Royal Albatross in the world. Explore the quaint villages dotted along the harbour bays and discover Larnach Castle, New Zealand's only castle, with its 'gardens of international significance' and intriguing history of tragedy and romance.
Dunedin is an immensely walkable city with a compact urban centre and miles of beautiful hinterland and native bush within easy reach. A number of operators offer walking tours of the city and focus on heritage, street art, literature and even ghostly happenings, otherwise grab a map from the department of conservation and head out for a stroll.
In Dunedin’s North East Valley, Baldwin Street was until recently recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the steepest street in the world. The street runs up the northern side of Signal Hill, at slopes of up to 1:2.86 (for 2.86m horizontal distance, a rise of 1m). 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.
Take a self-guided tour or simply stroll around one of the world’s most beautiful campuses. The University of Otago is New Zealand’s oldest and celebrates 150 years in 2019. Start in our visitors’ centre to learn more, or pick up a unique memento. Open six days a week.
The link is: www.otago.ac.nz/about/visitors-centre