A southern beauty, Dunedin offers more than rolling hills and jaw dropping sunrises. This little gem of a city may not be your first pick of getaway destinations, but with its beautiful contrasting scenery, historic significance and colourful street art, Dunedin is earning its place on New Zealand’s tourism bucket list.
From sheltered harbours to gnarly surf beaches, the rugged landscapes will incite your inner curiosity to get out and explore. With everything from architectural marvels filled with history, to modern, trendy cafes nestled amongst designer boutiques, the contrasts only add to Dunedin’s off-beat uniqueness.
Here are our tried and tested recommendations to make the most of your time exploring all that this intriguing southern destination has to offer.
After touching down it’s essential to pick up a car with so many locations to explore. A Dunedin landmark, ticking off the iconic railway station is a given, and the perfect spot to start your holiday photo album. On Saturday mornings, the carpark transforms into the Otago Farmers Market; with over 65 stalls it’s easy to spend a couple of hours tasting artisan products or picking up locally grown produce to take home.
If there’s time, make a beeline for the Coach House Boutique Bakery in St Clair. The makers of truly marvellous creations, from pies, pastries and cookies, to every bakery delight in between, get in early as possible because this is one not so best kept local secret and only opens until 1pm.
To indulge in a little high-end boutique shopping, immerse yourself amongst Dunedin designer stores, New Zealand made clothing, and adorable little cafes alongside the many art galleries scattered around. Around almost every corner you’ll discover an amazing array of street art. Almost fifty artworks and counting, adorn building walls, alleyways and everything in between. The whole city is one giant canvas.
As the afternoon gets into full swing, stop by Beam Me Up Bagels en-route to the glorious Dunedin Botanic Gardens, before taking a scenic drive to Port Chalmers to explore the vintage boutiques and the Hotere Garden Oputae.
For dinner, Dunedin is emerging as something of a culinary hotspot in the south, making it hard to choose just which restaurant to dine at. We recommend Vault 21 for the best Asian-fusion cuisine around, Moiety for its inventive tasting menus, or if you’re in the mood for fresh Italian dishes, then The Esplanade Restaurant channels la dolce vita with a seaside vibe. For a place to rest your head and recharge for tomorrow’s adventures, the Scenic Hotel Southern Cross is the perfect mix of modern luxury and heritage beauty.
Once Sunday rolls around, you’re going to want to do some exploring and find out what Dunedin really has to offer besides cute cafes and unique shopping.
Start the day with a stroll through Dunedin Public Art Gallery; established in 1884, it was New Zealand’s first art gallery, so you’re in for a treat with its rich historic collection and vast array of New Zealand artists. Step back in time at Toitu Early Settlers Museum with its fascinating interactive exhibits and displays of retro items.
Then, enjoy in the splendour of the Otago Peninsula with its intoxicating mix of sweeping vistas, rare wildlife and picturesque harbourside hamlets. Take high tea at the famous Larnach Castle and then explore the beautifully restored rooms packed with antiques.
Built in 1871, New Zealand’s only castle provides endless photo opportunities. Don’t forget to spend a little time enjoying the 35 acres of Alice in Wonderland themed gardens.
To complete your trip, get a little fresh air by visiting some of Dunedin’s most popular scenic spots. From the Signal Hill Lookout to Tunnel Beach, the Organ Pipes to the Pineapple Track you’ll be in awe of the rugged untouched landscapes surrounding the city.
End your trip with a dose of excellent coffee from one of the cities many small scale roasteries, matched with a warm cinnamon brioche that are found almost everywhere here. A fitting finale to a weekend in a small city with big personality.