Blending unique Scottish heritage, picturesque natural scenery, and a quirky city culture, Dunedin is guaranteed to be a very memorable stop on the great New Zealand road trip!
The name "Dunedin" comes from the Gaelic word for "Edinburgh" which is telling of the clear connection Dunedin has with its proud Scottish heritage. Drink some whisky, soak up the architecture, and you'll start to feel like you're all the way in Edinburgh in no time! As you wander through the city, you might stumble upon an art gallery, or a Farmers Market, so even if you don't plan your activities in advance, you'll soon find things to fill up your days in Dunedin.
Home to a large student population, New Zealand’s only castle, a record-holding street, and our country’s first botanical garden, Dunedin is certainly worth taking the time to explore. The city itself is full of hidden gems and character, and the surrounding region is popular for eco-tourism – earning Dunedin the title as New Zealand's Wildlife Capital.
Check out our top 5 spots that you should visit on your next trip to Dunedin!
1. Larnach Castle
- Location: 145 Camp Road, Larnachs Castle, Dunedin
- Suitable for: anyone wanting to travel back in time and experience royal life
Dunedin is the home to New Zealand’s one and only castle – Larnach Castle. The castle was originally owned by a successful Scottish merchant named William James Mudie Larnach, who struck a great fortune in the gold rush of the 1860s.
The location of the castle offers breathtaking views of the Otago Peninsula and Dunedin, and you can get a taste of living like royalty by enjoying a three-course dinner in the castle’s dining room, or by staying at the luxurious accommodations within the estate.
2. Baldwin Street
- Location: Baldwin Street, North East Valley, Dunedin
- Suitable for: anyone looking for a challenging uphill walk!
Baldwin Street has been officially named as the steepest residential street in the world by the Guiness Book of Records, so make sure to visit this famous street when you’re in Dunedin! Easy to find, the street is located on the northern side of Signal Hill. The street is made of concrete and the steep incline rises from 30m to 100m.
The foundation for the street was originally laid out without properly studying its terrain, so the steepness was actually unintentionally, but this uniquely quirky street has become a popular tourist attraction in Dunedin. Some pretty unique events are held there too, such as the Jaffa race, where Jaffas are literally rolled down the hill in a race, and the Gutbuster event where people race up and down the street. If you do decide to hike up the street, just remember to take your time, and drink lots of water!
3. Dunedin Botanic Garden
- Location: Cnr Great King Street North, North Dunedin
- Suitable for: people of all ages, light walking required
Established in 1863, Dunedin Botanic Garden was New Zealand’s first botanical garden to be established. Wandering through these dreamy gardens, you’ll find an Edwardian glasshouse, a Japanese garden, a winter garden, an aviary, and a rhododendron field.
Take some time to reconnect with nature, or bring a picnic basket and blanket for a romantic day out. As you walk through the gardens, you’re bound to find plenty of photo opportunities for your Instagram, or simply absorb the beauty of the flowers around you.
4. Dunedin Railways
- Location: Anzac Square, Dunedin
- Suitable for: families, train-lovers, explorers of all ages
The beautiful building that is the Dunedin Railway Station is worth visiting just for the tourist snaps! The design of the train station has a Victorian English influence which makes it look quite magnificent, and even inside you’ll be amazed by the intricate details. You’ll find it hard not to take a few photos while you’re waiting for your train!
If you can arrange your travel plans to be at the Railway Station on a Saturday morning, you'll be lucky enough to visit the Otago Farmers Market – which is regularly voted as the most outstanding farmers marketing in the country! Whether you want to kick-start your day with coffee or brunch, or you want to taste the freshest seasonal produce from local farms, prepare your taste buds for a fantastic foodie experience.
Once you've fueled up at the market, you'll be ready see more of the surrounding region by train, and from the station you can take trains on two active lines. The Taieri Gorge Railway takes you on a scenic ride along the Taieri River Gorge, where you'll see breathtaking views and gain insight on how the railway was built, and the lifestyle of the resilient pioneers of the area. The Seasider Railway takes you on a journey through the picturesque Otago Harbour before travelling over the cliffs that look out on the Pacific Ocean.
5. Otago Peninsula
- Location: Otago Peninsula, Dunedin
- Suitable for: animal lovers and outdoor enthusiasts
Animal lovers, prepare yourselves – the Otago Peninsula is home to plenty of wildlife that you can observe. From penguin colonies, to fur seals and sea lions lazing around, to the Royal Albatross Centre at the foot or Taiaroa Head, which is the only place in the world where you can view Northern Royal Albatross in their natural habitat.
Animals aside, views from the Peninsula are endless, the beaches are rugged, and the landscape is wild. If you’re looking for a more physical adventure, hike up the cliffs to enjoy the stunning views of multiple beaches.
And a trip to Dunedin wouldn't be complete without a visit to Tunnel Beach. Once you arrive, you'll spot the huge sandstone arch, and there is a walking track that takes you all the way down to the arch. It's about an hour's walk to hike the Tunnel Beach Track, and on your walking journey you'll be treated to fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean, massive sandstone boulders, and mysterious graffiti carved into the cliffs. Make sure to add this one to your list, and find out for yourself one it's one of Dunedin's most popular attractions.
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