Blending the historic and the contemporary, cool Dunedin is an alluring destination for anyone even thinking of visiting New Zealand. As thriving university town, students make up over a tenth of the city’s population, which gives this South Island town a youthful and exciting feel. Home to a rich cultural heritage and many excellent bars and pubs, Dunedin is for all the wrong reasons one of the least visited cities in New Zealand. A compact city with beautiful buildings, and exotic wildlife within a short drive from town, those that do decide to visit arrive met by friendly locals and leave with the knowledge that Dunedin is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets.
Dunedin’s condensed city centre makes many of the city stress-free and easy to explore. Some of the must-see attractions include the majestic Dunedin Railway Station and its 75,000 tile mosaic floor, Olveston, a historic homestead with a growing collection of paintings and artifacts, and the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, which tells the story of Dunedin from the arrival of the first Maori up to the present day. Aside from music, Dunedin’s main claim to fame is the Guinness Book of Records recognised ‘steepest street in the world’, Baldwin Street. Even more astounding though is the city’s lovely beaches, which include St Clair, St Kilda, Tunnel Beach and Black Head. Nearby on Dunedin’s doorstep you’ll find the imposing Otago Peninsula, home to an unparalleled variety of wildlife and rugged landscape.
Eat and Drink
Dunedin is an acclaimed dining location and visitors will have the opportunity to sample some outstanding local produce and typically friendly service. Restaurants in Dunedin offer many cuisine styles ranging from contemporary New Zealander, to Japanese, Thai, Italian. Some of the leading restaurants to check out include the waterfront Fleur’s Place, French bistro Two Chefs, Scottish influenced Scotia and the retro-themed Plato. Of course there’s also plenty of hearty pub grub for you to munch on between beers and The Bog and the Speight’s Ale House are where to go for some hearty no-fuss fare. If you’re craving something a little more exotic, you’ll find it at one of the city’s ethnic eateries, which are centred near George and Princes Streets.
Where to Stay
Dunedin’s hotel options are spread between downtown, Otago Harbour and the beachside suburbs. All areas have some excellent lodging options and Dunedin’s relatively small size makes it easy to take in all of the sights from wherever you decide to stay. The perfectly positioned Scenic Hotel Southern Cross is one of the picks of where to stay in Dunedin, while if you are looking for a bit more space, Bluestone on George is the city’s leading apartment style lodging. Those wanting to be close to the beach can’t go past Hotel Saint Clair, located right on the Esplanade, or nearby Milton House, an excellent Bed and Breakfast with breathtaking views of the city.
Dunedin packs a lot of shopping space into a city of such small size and the town is a thriving place to find some exceptional designs. The first destination for most people wanting to fill their suitcase is George Street in the city centre, but Princes Street and Lower Stuart Street both have plenty more shopping options. Moray Place may be a quieter place to shop but make sure to seek it out if you’re after something a little more unique. If what you want is everything in one place, head to Dunedin’s leading mall the Meridian Shopping Centre, or Wall Street Mall and the Golden Centre Mall which are two more excellent places to shop ‘til you drop.
Dunedin Like a Local
Nowhere else in the world has such a small city had a music scene that would go on to influence the world. That’s just what ‘The Dunedin Sound’ did in the ‘80s and ‘90s and these days live music is still very much a part of the city’s culture. To follow in the footsteps of famous local bands like The Clean, The Chills and The Bats, head to The Empire Tavern, arguably Dunedin’s oldest pub and the epicentre of the city’s music scene in the 1980s. Sammy’s, which opened in 1896 and still hosts numerous larger shows is another place to check out and so it the less-historic but equally lively is Refuel, which is where to Dunedin’s next crop of world-leading musicians live out their dreams.