South Island trips

Nature and Nightlife in Lower South Island

4 Days
676km
421mi

Route

Dunedin Central to Dunedin Central

Highlights

  • Penguins and nature
  • Adventurous Queenstown
  • Central Otago wineries

Best time of year

All year

Fulfil your dream to see Queenstown, and discover some of Otago’s other special places along the way. Enjoy the heritage architecture and eco-experiences of Dunedin before you drive up the coast to Oamaru, home of the amazing Moeraki Boulders. The beautiful Waitaki Valley leads you to Omarama, New Zealand’s top gliding spot.

Lindis Pass, Lake Dunstan and the Kawarau Gorge are sights you’ll remember on the road to Queenstown, where you can find almost any kind of adventure (and almost any kind of restaurant!). Then step back in time to the gold rush as you travel through Central Otago, a land of pioneer history, golden orchards and tantalising Pinot Noir.

Dunedin Railway Station
Info

Dunedin Railway Station

Photo by Tourism Dunedin

Day 1

Dunedin - Oamaru

1 hr

24 mins

113 km

71 mi

Dunedin

Dunedin is a heritage city with a youthful vibe. This university town is filled with many grand examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, including New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle. Just out of town, the Otago Peninsula, is a natural haven for rare coastal wildlife like penguins, albatross, seals and sea lions.

Your journey north is flavoured with history. The town of Palmerston has a museum devoted to the region’s Scottish past. After visiting the mysterious spherical boulders at Moeraki, you could pick up some interesting, ancient stones on the beach at Hampden.

Oamaru has a population of around 12,000 and an impressive heritage. Many of the elegant historic buildings were made from the local sandstone. Visit the Harbour-Tyne area - the best-preserved collection of historic commercial buildings in New Zealand. You should also check out the penguin colony, the museum and the pretty public gardens.

Dunedin yellow eyed penguin

Start in Dunedin Central

Historic architecture and eco-adventures await you in Dunedin. Watch the penguins surf into the beach after a successful day’s fishing.

Blue Penguins, Oamaru

End in Oamaru

Penguins are a reason to stay a while in Oamaru. At sunset, little blue and yellow-eyed penguins waddle ashore to get comfortable for the night.

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