Sometimes called the Edinburgh of the South, there is plenty to recommend Dunedin as a destination without comparison. Wildlife spotting and photographic opportunities abound on the Peninsula with some excellent tour options such as the harbour cruises.
Yellow eyed penguins, sea lions and birdlife including the Royal albatross colony along with historical sites such as Larnach’s castle and Olveston make the Otago Peninsula a popular choice for visitors.
Nearby small seaside communities such as Port Chalmers, Aramoana, Warrington and Brighton also have excellent natural outlooks away from the more well-known attractions.
Dunedin is also a cultural drawcard with the Fortune theatre laying claim to being the world’s southernmost professional company and the city hosts a well regarded arts festival in March. Take a street art tour or visit the Dunedin Public Art Gallery before paying your respects to Robbie Burns’ statue, right in the city’s heart, the Octagon.
TOITU museum, recently upgraded, provides social history in an impressive setting. It’s close to the postcard-perfect Railway Station, which also hosts the weekly farmers market and serves as a venue for the annual Fashion Week shows.
The Otago Museum is at the university end of town and worth a visit. The butterfly enclosure is very popular with families, especially the morning’s first flight release. Nearby is the University Bookshop, as good a book shop as you’re going to get in New Zealand. Dunedin is a UNESCO City of Literature; you can browse an extensive selection of local authors.
Fill up your water bottles with soft spring water from the tap outside the Speights Brewery and then head to St Clair’s beach for a brisk walk, a surfing lesson or a seasonal swim at the saltwater pools. Ample parking there, and a choice of cafes with outdoor seating and sea views. Tunnel Beach is just along the rugged coast from St Clair and a short drive from the Esplanade.
Horticultural enthusiasts also mustn’t miss a visit to theThe Botanical Gardens in North Dunedin with over 7000 plants amongst 30 hectares.
A strong Chinese heritage from the gold mining days was recognised by the opening of the Dunedin Chinese Garden several years ago in the harbour area.