Dunedin is a New Zealand Gem Unknown to Many
Welcome to Dunedin, New Zealand: built in the times before cars ruled the roads when railways and ships brought you where you needed to go in this natural harbour on a tiny spot of flat land encompassed by steep hills. Dunedin is pleasantly situated at the head of Otago Harbour along the South Island’s southeast coast. It’s among holiday destinations that renowned for their Scottish and Maori heritage, Edwardian and Victorian architecture. This hidden gem of New Zealand is worth checking out – there’s a wealth of culture and events to discover in Dunedin!
Some of the streets of Dunedin are incredibly steep: Baldwin Street holds the title of the steepest street in the southern hemisphere – a claim which is proudly celebrated each year during the city’s annual chocolate festival by rolling more than fifteen thousand chocolate coated, orange flavoured treats down Baldwin Street from the top of the hill. Dunedin attracts visitors with its relatively mild summers and cool winters that see light snow a few times a year – if the weather does call for snow and ice, understand that Dunedin will essentially shut down until the roads are clear again, given the city’s very steep streets.
Dunedin is home to the University of Otago, established in 1869 and the oldest university in New Zealand. The university is the South Island’s second largest employer, and by far the biggest supporter of the Dunedin economy. Dunedin has a terrific “college town” vibe and is considered to be a University Town rather than simply a town with a university in it.
When to Travel to Dunedin
The students of the University of Otago make up over one tenth of the population of Dunedin – take that into
consideration when choosing a time to come and stay in Dunedin. A consequence of the enormous student population is that the city of Dunedin is significantly quieter during the university’s summer holiday period which is approximately November to February, and that hotels might be significantly more difficult to book or more expensive during university graduations, etc. October and May are quieter months, and cheaper ones too as all the rates start to come down, and the weather is still pleasant.
Staying in Dunedin – Where to Rest Your Head?
- Leith Valley Touring Park is conveniently located within walking range of downtown Dunedin, and close to the Botanical Gardens and the Otago Museum – both must-see attractions while you’re staying in the area. It has all the normal holiday park facilities you would expect, including showers, kitchen, internet access, etc. It does cater mostly to camper vans and motor homes, campers with bikes and tents also stay there.
Address: 103 Malvern St, Woodhaugh, Dunedin 9010, New Zealand
Phone:+64 3-467 9936
- On Top Backpackers offers basic accommodations in the low $20s for a dorm bed. Small dorms, good clean facilities, good staff and good advice are all right here at On Top Backpackers next to The Octagon, and conveniently two blocks from a 24/7 Countdown supermarket. The residence is built over a pool hall and bar and is right next to most facilities including cinema, library, information centre, banks and food etc. The accommodation uses 24/7 swipe-card access.
Address: Filleul St near The Octagon and Moray St
Phone: 03 477 6121 (fax 477 6141)
- A quaint and quiet turn-of-the-century bed and breakfast villa nestled in a broad, flower-bordered garden with lush green laws backed by native bush with singing birds. Each room has electric heating, comfortable beds, electric blankets provided, furnished with antiques, while the queen room boasts an adjoining balcony. Located close to Moana Pool, the impressive Edwardian house Olveston, and the Otago Golf Course. Breakfast included, a courtesy car available, and two burmese cats roam the space. Regrettably, it is not suitable for children or smokers.
Address: 18 Grendon St, Maori Hill 9010, New Zealand
Phone:+64 3-467 5999
- Arden Street House goes above and beyond to satisfy your Dunedin accommodation needs. It’s Lonely Planet Travel Guide’s top choice for 2014, and 2015 as well as a feature in the U.S. National Geographic Travel Guide. This memorable vacation rental offers both long and short term rental options in their multi-room accommodation.
Address: 36 Arden Street, North East Valley – Dunedin
Phone: 0800 428689
The Best Places to Eat in Dunedin
- The Perc Café
142 Stuart Street | Octagon, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3-477 5462
Quirky and quick, coffee lovers will want to come here to grab a fresh cup of coffee and delicious breakfast, brunch or lunch. They occasionally have live music nights, so check them out!
- Scotia Restaurant & Whisky Bar
199 Upper Stuart Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
A welcoming, warm and comfortable atmosphere awaits you at this dinner and after hours establishment. Free WiFi and outdoor seating are just a couple of things making this a great place to stop for a meal or a drink.
- Etrusco at the Savoy
8 Moray Pl, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3-477 3737
Delicious Italian specialties and fine vintages are to be found at Etrusco at the Savoy. A friendly and bustling atmosphere adds to the experience.
- Potpourri Vegetarian Café
97 Stuart St, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Phone: 03 4779983
A quick bite or a hearty meal – juices, quiches, salads, soups and more are all on the menu. It can get packed during the lunch time rush so get in early if you want a good seat!
- The Good Earth Café
765 Cumberland St, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3-471 8554
Rumored to be one of the best places to get breakfast in Dunedin, The Good Earth Café has a great focus on organic and fresh foods.
Come See the Incredible Dunedin Botanical Gardens
Dunedin Botanical Gardens
Address: Cnr &, Great King St, North Dunedin, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3-477 4000
Possibly one of the most attractive and enchanting sights to feast your eyes on while you’re in Dunedin, the Dunedin New Zealand Botanical Gardens have been delighting visitors for over one hundred and fifty years and counting. It’s New Zealand’s first botanical garden, and it boasts over six thousand eight hundred species of plants.
The Dunedin Botanic Garden is open every single day of the year, from dawn to dusk, and the best part about it is that admission to all areas of the botanic garden is free.
The Information Centre and Shop
Open – 10am to 4pm
Closed – Christmas Day and Good Friday
The Arboretum: A collection of deciduous and evergreen trees on the top of the slopes of the Lower Garden and stretching towards the Aviary and Geographic Collection which features collections of plants grouped by geographic location.
The Winter Garden Glasshouse: A fantastic Edwardian style glass house featuring a range of desert, tropical and sub-tropical plant varieties.
Open – 10am to 4pm
The Alpine House: Designed to securely shelter tender alpine plants, the Alpine House displays a variety of bulbs and plants.
Open – 9am to 4pm
Open – 9.30am to 4.30pm,
Closed – Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day
Located in the sunshine of the slopes near the upper garden, the aviary is a place where visitors can come see the many birds living here. Keep the noise levels to a minimum to ensure the birds are calm and do not feel threatened. Every bird in the collection is recorded into a computer database program. Each of the valuable or rare birds here has a small microchip implant and an individual number registered to the owner.
Lower Garden toilets under the Alpine House open – 10am – 4.30pm
Upper Garden toilets in the car park open – dawn till dusk
Visit The Otago Museum in Dunedin
Address: 419 Great King St, North Dunedin, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3-474 7474
Situated in the city centre of Dunedin and first opening its doors in 1868, The Otago Museum is one of Dunedin’s top attractions, bringing in crowds of over four hundred eighty thousand visitors annually. The museum has been displaying collections for well over one hundred years and is classified as a Category 1 Historic Place by the Historic Places Trust.
The Otago Museum keeps seven long-term galleries:
- Southern Land, Southern People: The geological and the natural history of Otago; natural resources as utilized by the people of the south; a plesiosaur fossil, known to be New Zealand’s largest fossil specimen, is a feature exhibit here.
- Tangata Whenua: Māori taoka (treasures and artefacts), with a focus on the Southern Mãori.
- The Nature gallery: natural science specimens as well as stories from Otago, including a historic moa diorama.
- Animal Attic: The museum’s Victorian-inspired zoological gallery, with roughly three thousand historical specimens including the Lawrence lions.
- People of the World: humanities artefacts from all over the globe, such as an ancient Egyptian mummy.
- Pacific Cultures: tools, masks, weapons and more from the islands and cultures of Polynesia and Melanesia.
- The Maritime gallery: a maritime history of Otago and New Zealand featuring more than fifty model ships and a historic Fin whale skeleton.
Accompanying the galleries, other long-term displays include:
- Discovery World Tropical Forest, the Otago Museum’s interactive science centre exhibit. The science centre has two distinct sections: the first one explores science (primarily physics and technology) through the implementation of interactive exhibits; the second is an immersive rainforest feature known as the Tropical Forest. It houses hundreds of exotic, live butterflies, and features other tropical flora and fauna in a three level environment with a six metre tall beautiful and soothing waterfall.
- Sir Edmund Hillary: New Zealander: An exhibit featuring several personal items that formerly belonged to Sir Edmund Hillary, which were given to the Otago Museum collection in 2010 by June, Lady Hillary. Together, these items weave the interesting story of Hillary’s life and achievements; these highlights are displayed as a series of cases in the Atrium foyer and the stairwell.
Enjoy Yourself at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre
Address: 231 Stuart Street (cnr Stuart Street & Moray Place) Dunedin 9016
Phone:03 477 8323
Box Office Hours
Monday: 10:30 am — 5:00 pm
Tuesday: 10:30 am — 6:00 pm
Wednesdays to Fridays: 10:30 am — 7:30 pm
Saturday : 4:30 pm — 7:30 pm
Sunday : 1:30 pm — 4:00 pm
Fortune Theature, or “The Fortune” is established within the beautiful stone walls of Trinity Methodist Church in Dunedin, and is can be found on the corner of Upper Stuart Street and Moray Place West, just one block above the Octagon. This fantastic building is a phenomenally gorgeous example of the Gothic Revival. The building first opened its doors as a church back in 1870 and was a place of worship until it was eventually repurposed as the Fortune Theatre in 1978. The Fortune Theatre building now carries a Category 1 classification from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, in recognition of the building’s historic and architectural significance. To see it is to believe it!
Visit the New Zealand destinations category to learn more about other places to visit in New Zealand!