"The Pride of the South" Top 5 Page for this destination Dunedin by Kakapo2

Dunedin Travel Guide: 342 reviews and 819 photos

A compact City with plenty of Attractions

As I travel to to Dunedin on a regular base and just love it I have finally decided to dedicate a page to this beautiful place on the Otago coast and not just squeeze its major attractions into some tips on my Otago page. I have also relocated my Off the beaten path tips about Otago Peninsula, the area north of Otago Harbour and the reddish golden beaches south of Dunedin from my Otago page to the Dunedin page, as it seems logical to choose Dunedin as a base for visiting these places.

Apart from being an outstanding city with Scottish heritage in the south-east of New Zealand’s South Island, the most intriguing fact about Dunedin at the moment is that we could afford a house with sea view without a mortgage whereas it will take a while to pay off our sea view mortgage further north in Christchurch… (I do not wonder that the French word “la mort” = death is part of the word mortgage because the costs could kill you LOL Ok, ok, I admit, not a very scientific approch LOL)

The other great thing is that Dunedin is such a compact city, as is Otago Peninsula which has always attracted me to the area - and always will. You get through the city quickly, you get to the beaches quickly. The peninsula is just across a bridge or two, and it does not take you longer than 40 minutes to reach its furthermost point. Compared to Christchurch you do not spend any time on the road to get from A to B.

Otago Peninsula feels like another world, with its wind-swept white sandy beaches where you can watch penguins, New Zealand Fur Seals, sea lions, and thousands of sea and shore birds, not to forget the Royal Albatross Colony at Taiaroa Head, the world's only mainland colony of these majestic birds.

Scottish and Chinese Heritage

Dunedin is not only the gaelic word for Edinburgh, it also looks very Scottish - this makes the "Edinburgh of the south". However, from the times of the Gold Rush it is also abundant with Chinese influence. You will find a lot of information about this in the Early Settlers Museum, and until late 2010 Dunedin had a mayor whose ancestors once came from China.

The city is a beauty. First because of its location. When you come from the north, suddenly the road slopes steeply downhill and reveals the city which lies like in a natural amphi-theatre, nestled between the sea, the end of the Otago Harbour and Mt. Cargill.

Secondly, the city has an abundance of beautiful neogothic buildings, of which St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, the First Church of Otago, the Municipal Chambers, the Law Courts and the spectacular Railway Station are the finest examples. Thanks to the Gold Rush Dunedin once was a very rich city and could afford its magnificent architecture that you can still admire today.

All these buildings are on an easy walk from the city centre, an eight-sided garden-like square named The Octagon which is lined by nice cafés and restaurants. St. Paul's and Town Hall are part of it, and the Visitor Centre and the very good Art Gallery are right there. Close-by are the Otago Settlers Museum (Queens Gardens) and the Exchange with some nice brass penguin figures.

Chocolate, Beer, Students, Wildlife...

In the city centre are also two less historic places of interest: the Cadbury chocolate factory (Cumberland St) and the Speight's Brewery (Rattray St) - both can be visited and the products tasted ;-) The brewery's slogan is: The Pride of the South - and this also suits the city well.

On a longer walk to the north you find the great Otago Museum, the university buildings and at the end the spectacular Botanic Garden. Even further up is Baldwin St, the world's steepest street. Especially at the start of the semester this area can be rather noisy, and the gardens of the properties are littered, as the students of medicine use to start their university life with heavy drinking and partying. A matter of style.

But the students unwillingly also have a good impact on Dunedin: An incredible lot of restaurants and cafés offer a huge variety of food at very affordable prices.

Dunedin is also the gateway to Otago Peninsula with its fantastic wildlife and beaches, and to an even lesser known spectacular area opposite the peninsula (see Off the Beaten Path tips), and start of the Taieri Gorge Railway. Although the long harbour is shaped fiord-like, it is the crater of an ancient volcano. The rising sea water broke the shell on the eastern side and created the harbour which is now one of the city's major assets.

Update January 2010: Visitor Centre is now at 20 Princes Street

Until a little while ago you could find the Visitor Information Centre (i-site) in Town Hall right at the Octagon. Due to renovations of the Town Hall the Visitor Centre moved to 20 Princes Street. The plan is to move back to the old location in The Octagon in October 2010, once the renovations of the Town Hall have finished. (Feb. 2011: The website still lists 20 Princes Street as the temporary location of the i-site.)

Contact Details of the Visitor Centre:
Phone (03) 474 3300
Email: visitor.centre@dcc.govt.nz
Internet: http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/isite/about-the-visitor-centre

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Spectacular location, beautiful architecture, and the Peninsula
  • Cons:Too far away from the international airports ;-)
  • In a nutshell:A beautiful place for beach and wildlife lovers
  • Last visit to Dunedin: Jul 2008
  • Intro Updated Feb 13, 2011
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Reviews (30)

Comments (3)

  • salisbury3933's Profile Photo
    Feb 12, 2011 at 4:38 AM

    Excellent Dunedin tips.

  • Dec 17, 2009 at 8:29 AM

    Hi again Sissi! Just realised that you've stayed at Allan's Beach Farmstay! That's where we're staying 4 nights in Jan! The photos look awesome - especially the view from the terrace!

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Oct 28, 2008 at 5:08 AM

    What an excellent introduction to Dunedin, the kind of page only a 'local' (well, almost) can present. Contrasts of the lovely Peninsula and student mess! Well done (and why has nobody beaten me here?).

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