The thriving city of Dunedin with its rare and unique has it all – from the world’s steepest street to the rare yellow-eyed penguin. Set amidst a magical landscape edged by the sea, this city is a place where the streets hum with color and culture. On top the city is renowned for its proximity to incredible wildlife and is often referred to as the eco-capital of New Zealand. Due to Dunedin’s compact nature you will find that everything is close to the center and getting around the key attractions is super easy. And as this fun, dynamic and exciting city offers much to stir the senses, make sure to take some time to discover its hidden gems.
How to get there?
Located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Dunedin can best be reached by car or train. You can also choose to fly to Dunedin International Airport.
Dunedin is a great city to explore. A lot of people come to see the Baldwin Street – the world’s steepest street (and so did we). This 350 m long street rises from 30 m above sea level to 100 m, having a maximum slope of 35 %. But in fact there is much more to see and do. Within the center you will find a number of diverse attractions and activities to suit all interests. From city sightseeing, culture or entertainment to outdoor and adventure things. And as the city center is quite compact all attractions are pretty close to each other. On top Dunedin is a city of gardens: The Town Belt cuts a green swathe across the width of the city, with native forest, exotic trees and lots of sport fields and recreational reserves. So it is always good to just hang around and go for a walk while enjoying Dunedin and its beauty.
How long to stay?
You can easily visit Dunedin during a day trip and that is also what we did. The city center is quite compact and therefore most attractions can be reached in almost no time. In case you want to explore the Otago Peninsula as well make sure to have at least 2 days to enjoy its walks, roads, wildlife and nature as much as possible.
Where to stay?
There is plenty of accommodation in and around Dunedin, suiting all needs and budgets. As we only visited Dunedin during the day, we decided to stay further south, close to the famous Nugget Point as this was our destination for the next day. We chose the Hill View Camping (-46.413S, 169.720E) – a private campground on a field in the middle of nowhere. The fee was only 10NZD per person and it came with some free wifi. A kitchen area is available and you can also get some washing done. Arrive early so you can head to the Nugget Point for sunset and tell the owner that you go – he most probably will provide you some binoculars so you can watch penguins and seals (if you are lucky).
Cadbury World We fell in love with this chocolate during our time in New Zealand and almost finished a whole bar every day. So this might have just been the right attraction for us. The Cadbury World will teach you about the fantastic, incredible chocolates and lollies that bring joy to so many people. You can choose between visiting the Visitor Center or even take a guided tour through the Cadbury World Experience. Both options will include eating some delicious treats. Heritage Walks These heritage walks are probably the best way to wander around Dunedin and explore the fine buildings that were built in the 1870s and 1880s. The walks will take you back to the adventurous days when Dunedin was New Zealand’s largest and wealthiest city more than 100 years ago. Each walk is a little over 2 km in length and should take you less than one hour to complete. There are two walks to choose from. You can either buy a detailed map in the visitor center or download it online. Perpetual Guardian Planetarium The Perpetual Garden Planetarium is the southernmost planetarium in the world and the only one in Australasia that features full 3D shows. It was built to increase engagement with science, nature and culture in Otago. Another motivating factor were the incredible night skies over Dunedin and Otago. The aurora australis is frequently visible from within the city limits and initiatives are in place to make Dunedin the world’s largest “dark sky city” to make full use of its naturally stellar skies. One of the shows available in the planetarium is the “The Sky Tonight” – a live presentation taking you on a virtual tour of what you can see in the sky over Dunedin on the night of your visit. You will learn about stars, constellations, deep sky objects and the best way to view them that very evening. Otago Peninsula The Otago Peninsula stretches along the southern edge of the Otago harbor and is reachable by an easy drive from central Dunedin. The wonderful scenic trip will take you along lush green nature, small bays and inlets, sandy beaches, rugged hills and volcanic landforms. And it always makes a good trip to escape the hectic pace of city living. The peninsula also is a huge and renowned eco tourism area with unique opportunities to view a remarkable range of wildlife including the Royal Albatross, blue penguins and the rare yellow-eyed penguins as well as seals, water and wading birds. Here you will also find Larnach Castle and its spledid gardens, which sure makes a highlight. A round tour of the peninsula is approx. 64 km with a number of optional detours and walks in case you have time to spare. Southern Scenic Route Dunedin is the perfect starting (or ending) point to explore the Southern Scenic Route. This journey between Dunedin and Queenstown is approx. 610 km and takes you along some natural and cultural attractions – all laid out one after the other. You will find opportunities to view wildlife, go for short walks, be active (mountain-biking, fishing, boating) or do some camping, tramping and caving. The route also gives you access to deserted beaches, lush rainforest, pristine lakes and stunning mountain vistas. So just in case you have plenty of time to explore – this route is the ideal drive for you! The route is well signposted (look for brown signs with a red triangle and a windy road) and leads you via sealed country roads and highways.