The ‘Edinburgh of the south’ buzzes with student life and a rich musical heritage

At one time the largest city in New Zealand, Dunedin is like a little slice of Scotland in the Southern Hemisphere. Lovely architecture from the 19th century surrounds Otago Harbour, while the hilly suburbs are like an amphitheatre of charming houses. Home to Otago University and Otago Polytechnic, the city is celebrated for its rich musical heritage – iconic New Zealand independent record label Flying Nun discovered a wealth of talent playing in its bars and venues – and thriving youth culture.

While the suburbs overlooking the harbour are very hilly, the city centre, formed around the Octagon plaza, makes for easy strolling. It’s home to an array of shops, galleries, bars and cafés. Rent a car and explore the stunning Otago Peninsula to the east, a fractured stretch of land with numerous beaches and an extremely rare breeding colony of huge royal albatross.

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Things to do

  • Castle keeper

    Larnach Castle

    High above the harbour sits a small but stunning Victorian castle commissioned by William Larnach in 1871. An afternoon visit for high tea is the ideal way to experience Larnach Castle opens in new window, followed by a pleasant stroll through its 14ha garden.

  • Hot stuff

    St Clair Beach

    Summer is a great time to visit beaches like St Clair opens in new window, which is home to an impressive resort and a hot saltwater pool, opened in 1884 and heated since the 1960s.

  • Know it all

    Otago Museum

    Given that it has such rich history, it’s no surprise that Otago Museum is a wonderland of culture, nature and science. What’s more, it’s within walking distance of the city centre. Dunedin’s most popular attraction, it’s a fascinating and bargain-priced way to spend a day.

  • Port of kings

    Port Chalmers

    Just 15km north-east of Dunedin, historic port town Port Chalmers is now a thriving arts community popular with musicians and alternative lifestylers, making it an interesting destination for a day trip.

  • Shanghai surprise

    Dunedin Chinese Garden

    Boasting the oldest botanic garden in the country, Dunedin Chinese Garden opens in new window in the heart of the city features materials crafted by artisans and craftsmen from Dunedin’s sister city, Shanghai.

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Airport information

Dunedin Airport opens in new window (DUD)

Distance to city centre 30km

Taxi Taxis are available directly outside the terminal building. It takes around 30 minutes to the city centre and costs about NZD $90.

Shuttle A transfer with SuperShuttle opens in new window costs from around NZD $20. Book ahead.

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When to go

As you’d expect from a city so far south, the mid-year winters are cold, with heavy frosts and snowfall, though the days are often sunny and clear. Spring is unpredictable but summer, running from the end of the year until around Easter, can be splendid, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 30°C.

Dunedin is a popular location for festivals, conferences, carnivals and other cultural and sports events. A rugby match when the Otago team is playing is an essential experience. Other jewels in the city’s crown are early April’s iD Fashion opens in new window Show, the long-standing Midwinter Carnival opens in new window, the biennial International Science Festival opens in new window in July and the boutique Arts Festival opens in new window, held in October in even-numbered years.

Ready to go? Find cheap flights to Dunedin opens in new window

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Getting around

Though the beautiful century-old Dunedin Railway Station still stands, commuter and suburban train services no longer operate. Buses are the way to get around, with bus services operating routes across the city and surrounding areas, including to St Clair, St Kilda and Port Chalmers. Services are regular during the week, but reduced on weekends and holidays.

 

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