Discover the spectacular landscapes, wildlife and local history of Dunedin. Make sure you tick off these top 8 experiences when you visit.
Dunedin's compact city layout and flat runs make it a great place for cycle touring, while the surrounding countryside offers five mountain bike trail networks. Signal Hill, just 40 minutes' ride from the city centre, has the best downhill track in the country. About an hour's drive from Dunedin, Middlemarch forms the start of the famous Otago Central Rail Trail. This 150km trail takes in historic gold mining sites, country pubs, and peaceful, golden-hued landscapes.
The Toitu Otago Settlers Museum has created a wonderful immersive experience that shares the story of Dunedin’s past, from the early Maori inhabitants and European settlers, through to more modern history complete with trolley-buses, vintage cars and retro homewares. The interactive displays, replica models and activities for children, bring local history to lifein a refreshing and engaging way.
Escape to one of Dunedin's fantastic beaches, only a few minutes’ drive from the city centre. St Clair is a popular surf beach, but other beaches have good breaks too - including Aramoana, Murdering Bay and Karitane. If you just want to swim, Brighton Beach is a beauiful choice, just 20 minutes' drive from Dunedin. Long Beach is good for rock climbing and has huge caves to explore, while Tunnel Beach features a spectacular sandstone sea arch, which is best visited at low tide.
Explore the ever-growing collection ofvibrant, whimsical artworks from international and local artists which are dotted throughout the central city, around corners, down alleyways and boldly painted upon the sides of buildings.The walk takes around 90 minutes, and you can pick up a copy of the trail map at the Dunedin i-SITE Visitor Information Centre or join a guided walking tour with Small City Big Walks.
Dunedin is a UNESCO designated City of Literature, and it shows. The town's central Octagon proudly displays a statue of Robert Burns, and has its own Writers’ Walk - a series of plaques featuring entertaining and informative quotes about Dunedin and its heritage. Bibliophiles should visit the rare manuscript collections at the Reed and de Beer Galleries, or head to Dutybound Book Bindery to see old binding techniques in action. For some serious browsing, swing by Hard to Find Bookshop, Stafford 6 Books or the University Book Shop.
Departing from the historic Dunedin Railway Station, the Taieri Gorge Railway takes passengers on a picturesque journey through the Central Otago hinterland. Travel across the Taieri Plains and into the deep and narrow Taieri Gorge. Ride over the Wingatui Viaduct, the largest wrought iron structure in the world, and if the sun is out, stretch your legs by crossing one of the bridges on foot (the train will wait for you). The Taieri Gorge train departs daily to Pukerangi (four hours return), and weekly to Middlemarch (6 hours return).
New Zealand's only castle is an important and much loved piece of Dunedin history. Built in 1871 by William Larnach, a merchant and politician born of Scottish parents, Larnach Castle has been carefully restored to its original Victorian grandeur, and its beautiful rooms and ma, gardens are open to the public 365 days a year. The castle boasts a 3,000 square foot ballroom, which hosts high tea at 3pm every day, and a tower commanding sweeping views of the Otago Peninsula. Larnach Castle is located 20 minutes' drive from downtown Dunedin.
Dunedin is home to magnificent and rare wildlife. On the Otago Peninsula you can spot Little Blue Penguins, Yellow-Eyed Penguins, fur seals and sea lions visit the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross. View the Albatross with a guided tour at the Royal Albatross Centre, and pair this with a dusk viewing of Little Blue Penguins returning from a day at sea at the adjacent Blue Penguins Pukekura. Elm Wildlife Tours visits the far reaches of the peninsula for close encounters with the wild inhabitants. To get a different perspective, join a Monarch Wildlife Cruise for a unique view via sea. A visit to Orokonui Eco Sanctuary, 20 km north of Dunedin will be rewarded with Tuatara lizards, Otago Skinks and 17 species of native birds, including kiwi.