4 minutes reading time New Zealand
I’ve worked in the New Zealand tourism industry for over 15 years and am passionate about all things New Zealand. I am however always disappointed to hear when travelers to the country decide to skip one of my favorite NZ cities – even most kiwis haven’t discovered the hidden gems of Dunedin.
Dunedin has a reputation for being a “scarfie city” – renowned for its university – the scarfies are students at the university who put on their puffer jackets and scarves when they discover the cold wind that comes with the territory. But there are many treasures to be discovered in this chilly city: here’s a list of the top things you should explore when visiting Dunedin.
Yes, it may be cold, but if you get a fine day in Dunedin the beaches are well worth the time.
Tunnel Beach should be top of your list. The tale associated with this beach is that a rich lord wanted to provide a private beach for his daughter so he carved a tunnel in the rock so she could privately access her own small beach. Apparently, due to the treacherous waves and the daughter’s inability to swim, the novelty was short-lived and the daughter drowned. Whether the myth is true or not is debatable, but the 10 minutes walk down to this wild, wavy beach is well worth the walk.
St Clair and St Kilda Beaches – surfers unite – these two Dunedin beaches are supposedly two of the best surfing beaches in the South Island. St Kilda beach also provides a nice picturesque walk, and St Clair beach is perfect for a stroll and coffee at one of the quaint restaurants along the waterfront.
There are lookouts dotted around Dunedin that give you optimal views of the city and sea. Many of which you can choose to drive to or walk to.
Signal Hill lookout – this is a windy drive up to the “guardians of the city”, a large statue overlooking Dunedin city. This lookout gives you a wonderful view of the city and harbor. It is also accessible by mountain bike or a decent uphill hike.
Port Chalmers Lookout – Port Chalmers is the port village associated with Dunedin. Drive along one side of Dunedin harbor, and view the port activities. Dunedin port has to be one of the most scenic ports in New Zealand, you can view the comings and goings from the Port Chalmers lookout, and stop at the galleries or coffee shops in the township.
Larnach castle is most commonly associated with Dunedin. Built upon the hill overlooking the opposite side of the harbor, this is a must-do, even just to explore the gardens. The drive to Larnach castle is scenic in itself and the gardens and lookout are breathtaking. There are many quaint little suburbs to peruse on the way as well.
Star Gazing, there are a few spots to stargaze around New Zealand, particularly in the South Island and Dunedin is one of them. Venture out along the Otago Peninsula to view a remarkably clear sky. The stargazing tour provides a Maori (New Zealand indigenous) perspective into the night skies.
Albatross Sanctuary, drive right out along the Otago peninsula for this one. It is well worth the venture. The royal albatross colony breeds and nurtures albatross on the shores of Dunedin, regardless of whether you choose to view it yourself or take a tour you won’t be disappointed in this wildlife experience.
There is so much more to do and see in Dunedin, I always recommend staying a few days to really make the most of exploring this beautiful city. Make this city a priority when you visit the South Island of New Zealand.