Something of a boutique city, Dunedin is small and perfectly formed but packed with fascinating things to see and do. Set in and around what was once a volcanic crater, it is ringed with bush-clad hills that overlook a pretty harbour and the expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
New Zealand’s one of the first three cities, Dunedin was built on the riches of the gold rush, and this legacy lives on in one of the best collections of Edwardian and Victorian architecture in the southern hemisphere. Gothic church spires, ornate mansions, grand buildings, intriguing alleyways and picturesque gardens are woven through the central city, which is full of bustling cafes, shopping boutiques and outstanding street art.
Immensely walkable, there is much to discover within a relatively short distance. Toitu Otago Early Settlers Museum(opens in new window) and the Otago Museum(opens in new window) are both well worth a stop, providing a glimpse into the local history and culture through interactive exhibits and events. The Dunedin Chinese Gardens are a haven of tranquillity created in the traditional yuan lin style and are a reminder of the historical ties the city has held with China.
Long recognised as a cultural city, there is a plethora of public and privately-run art galleries to savour and a year-round calendar of events to entertain.
The only UNESCO Creative City of Literature in New Zealand, Dunedin was the home of many of the country’s most celebrated authors. Trace the literary heritage with the Dunedin Writers Walk plaques dotted around the Octagon and beyond.
From the Warehouse Precinct to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens, there is an eclectic and fascinating mix of both old and new to discover. Just a little further afield, the gorgeous surrounding hinterlands reveal long white sand beaches, hidden coves, dramatic sea-cliffs and sweeping plateaus.
Take a drive along the renowned Otago Peninsula to discover Larnach Castle and a choice of rare wildlife encounters – there are penguin, albatross and seal colonies here, among other native species.
Functional facts: Approx. population 127,000, i-SITE Visitor Centre, domestic and international airport.