The ‘Edinburgh of the south’ buzzes with student life and a rich musical heritage
Dunedin, with its castles, breweries and windswept coastline, is a little slice of Scotland Down Under. Wander the streets and take in the grand Victorian architecture of Otago University and the amphitheatre of charming houses in the hilly suburbs above, before giving in to the city’s vibrant student buzz and thriving music scene.
Outside the city, the Otago Peninsula is a stunningly fractured stretch of land with a wealth of rugged beaches, walking tracks and wildlife. Explore historic Larnach Castle, take a walk down to the carved sandstone cliffs of Tunnel Beach, or venture out to the end of the Peninsula to watch the huge royal albatross soar above the ocean.
Things to do: Dunedin
Visit Larnach Castle
Larnach Castle is the first thing you’ve got to tick off your Dunedin list. This stunning, historic castle high above the harbour is New Zealand’s only castle, built in 1871 and now restored to its original Victorian glory. It’s open to the public every day of the year, so go exploring its exquisite interiors and rolling gardens. If you’re feeling fancy, book a seat at the daily High Tea.
Venture out to the Royal Albatross Centre
At the very tip of the Otago Peninsula, a 40-minute drive from Dunedin, you’ll find one of New Zealand’s most impressive wildlife experiences. The Royal Albatross Centre gives you the chance to get up close and personal with these majestic birds. On a breezy day you might even get to see their incredible 3-metre wingspan as they soar around the cliffs.
Hit the sand at St Clair Beach
Dunedin has some great beaches on its doorstep, and one of its most popular is St Clair. This stunning white sand beach is a favourite with surfers and those looking for a laidback beach spot where you can spend the day. Go for a swim, then saunter the Esplanade, which is lined with al fresco bars and eateries. Too cold to swim? Slip into the warmth of the historic St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool.
Image credit: DunedinNZ
Explore the Otago Museum
Given Dunedin’s rich history, it’s no surprise that Otago Museum is a wonderland of culture, nature and science, all within walking distance of the city centre. Don't miss the indoor tropical forest, complete with 5m waterfall, a sky bridge and a thousand rainforest butterflies. It’s Dunedin’s most popular tourist attraction, and it’s a fascinating and bargain-priced way to spend a day.
Day trip to Port Chalmers
Just 15km northeast of Dunedin, the historic (and still working) port town of Port Chalmers is now a thriving arts community, full of musicians and alternative lifestylers. It’s a popular weekend spot for Dunedin locals who like to soak up its heritage attractions, like the Maritime Museum. This unique harbourside town has a whole host of interesting galleries and excellent cafes and restaurants, making for a fun day trip.
Dunedin Airport opens in new window (DUD)
Distance to city centre 30km
Taxi Taxis are available to the right of the terminal building. It takes around 30 minutes to the city centre and costs about NZD $90.
Shuttle A transfer with SuperShuttle costs from around NZD $20. Book ahead.Back to top
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 are playing is an essential experience in the winter months. Other jewels in the city’s crown are June’s iD Fashion Show, the long-standing Midwinter Carnival, the biennial International Science Festival in July and the boutique Arts Festival held every second year.
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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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