Destination Guide

Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and is significant to New Zealand both historically and culturally. Located on the Otago Harbour on the eastern coast of the Province of Otago, the city is well-known for its Flemish architecture, the Octagon, and the wildlife — including yellow-tail penguins, seals, sea lions and the Royal Albatross — along the Otago Peninsula.

Dunedin has a rich tradition in commerce, and signs of its prominence in a bygone era can be seen in the wealth of its buildings, including the lavish Dunedin Railway Station and Larnach Castle. It’s also the home of the University of Otago, which contributes greatly to the rich cultural tradition of the city.

Getting in and around Dunedin

Dunedin Airport

Dunedin International Airport operates domestic flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as international services connecting to the Australian cities of Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne (seasonal). Since 2006 the airport has been upgraded to cater for its increasing number of routes and amount of airport traffic, and has been fitted with the new Koru Lounge, larger check-in area, and international arrivals area.

It's a 22km drive from Dunedin's city centre to the airport.If you're planning on leaving your car at the airport, long-term airport parking is available.

Dunedin Transport

Dunedin has two taxi company services available: Dunedin Taxis and Southern Taxis. Public buses are available around town, and Dunedin public bus schedules are available online on the Dunedin Public Bus Services website.

Shuttles connect Dunedin with the airport and other cities on the South Island. Atomic Shuttles offer connections to Queenstown, Wanaka and Invercargill as well as to central Dunedin; book in advance if you need to be picked up at the airport, as the bus won't stop there otherwise.

Dunedin Car Hire

At the airport, rental car pick-up offices are found at the southern end of the terminal building, just past the shadow of the Southern Man. Opening hours run in accordance with flight arrival and departure times, however there is also a key drop-off box inside the car rental office building should it be necessary.

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Dunedin accommodation

There's a great range of cosy and warm accommodation available in Dunedin.

  • Bluestone On George is a new luxurious executive motel located in the city centre. The motel is stylish and comfortable and offers the latest comforts and technology for its guests.
  • Corstorphine House is a private hotel built in 1863 situated on one of New Zealand's finest estates. The historic home has now been fitted with the modern comforts and is open for guests to enjoy the immaculate surroundings. The produce on the estate is used in the Conservatory Restaurant.
  • Larnach Lodge offers boutique lodging on the grounds of Dunedin’s famous Lanarch Castle. The lodge has spectacular views of the Otago Peninsula and Otago Harbour. Enjoy non-smoking rooms, dining in the castle's dining room, and the included full breakfast. The lodge is located 20 minutes out of the centre of Dunedin, and is close to the Royal Albatross Centre.
  • The Esplanade Apartments are situated away from the hustle and bustle of Dunedin on beautiful St Clair’s Beach. Located only 7 minutes from the city centre, you can enjoy the seaside while still being close to the city and the Peninsula.
  • Penny’s Backpackers is located in downtown Dunedin and offers a warm environment and friendly atmosphere. Penny’s offers great value for money.
  • Next Stop Backpackers is located 300 metres from the Octagon, putting you close to anything you'll need in Dunedin.
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Things to do in Dunedin

  • Dunedin Railway Station. Built in 1906, Dunedin Railway Station was constructed at a time when Dunedin was New Zealand's commercial centre. The grandiose building was designed by Sir George Alexander Troup (Gingerbread George), who won a British Architects Award for its design. The building was built in the distinct Flemish Renaissance style, similar to the Otago University and Law Courts, and is often described as lavish and extravagant. Today, the building houses the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and conducts historical rail tours to the Taieri River Gorge.
  • The Octagon. Designed in the 1840s, is the centre piece of the City of Dunedin and is of significant historical significance to Dunedin. Most of the city's significant buildings surround Moray Place, the ring road that forms the outline of the Octagon today. The imposing Municipal Chambers (Town Hall), Civic Centre and Public Library, the Regents Theatre, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and St Paul's Cathedral are all found in the Octagon. The Octagon also houses many of the city's restaurants and bars.
  • Baldwin Street, has gained some fame with its Guinness Book of World Records status as world's steepest street. Annually the "Baldwin Street Gutbuster" is held here, with over 1000 participants running up and down the street as a test of fitness and balance. A further event celebrating the street's steepness also exists now in Dunedin's calendar of events, in which over 10,000 Jaffas are rolled down the street, each sponsored by one person, with the winner receiving a prize and the funds raised going to charity.
  • The Royal Albatross Centre. Located at the head of the peninsula, The Royal Albatross Centre provides magnificent views, and if you arrive at the right time you may even see a Southern Royal Albatross. The Southern Royal Albatross is the second largest in the Albatross family, and has an average wingspan of three metres, making it a marvellous sight in flight.
  • Yellow-Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve. Offers 90-minute guided tours by experienced guides who know how to find the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.
  • Larnach Castle is Dunedin's only surviving castle, built by business baron and politician William Larnach for his wife. It was designed by Robert Lawson, one of New Zealand's most eminent 19th century architects. Built on the Otago Peninsula, the mansion features 43 rooms plus a ballroom, and staffed 46 servants. The castle offers spectacular views of the Otago Peninsula and the Harbour. The castle and its grounds are open to the public and it's one of the city's major tourist attractions.
  • Sandfly Bay. On the southern coast line of the Otago Peninsula lies Sandfly Bay rather unfortunately named after New Zealand's least favourite insect. Despite its unattractive name, the bay is actually a beautiful, deserted, golden sandy beach, surrounded by a striking coastline, towering sand dunes, and rolling foothills with lots of sheep grazing.
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    Day trips in and around Dunedin

  • Cadbury Factory in Dunedin allows visitors to tour the factory and delve into the rich, creamy delight that is making chocolate.
  • Dunedin Beaches. If the cool water temperature doesn't bother you, Dunedin has delightful, uncrowded sandy beaches. St Clair is the main city beach, and the nearby Esplanade Hotel can offer you a welcome refuge after a day battling the surf.
  • Dunedin John Cargill ,son of Dunedin's founder Captain William Cargill, in the 1870s, instructed that a tunnel be carved through a sandstone cliff so that his family could have access to a beach near his home. The beach was given the name Tunnel Beach, and today the beach can be accessed by the public. See the visitor information centre in the Octagon for tidal information and access details (you need to walk over privately-owned farming land to get there, which isn't possible during lambing seasons).
  • Caitlins Southern Scenic Route. The South Island's Southern Scenic Route is majestic peregrinate through New Zealand's remote Southern Coast. Enjoy rolling sandy beaches, bush walks, waterfalls, small fishing villages and wildlife along this route. The road is fully sealed all the way, though be aware that many attractions will require you to leave the main road for gravel ones. Your car hire company will be able to tell you if you're insured for the Caitlins Southern Scenic Route; check with them when you arrange your rental vehicle and insurance.
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