Dunedin is my home, and unashamedly holds my heart. Having grown up here and thus been a part of the community for a number of years, it’s still a place that surprises me with its steady and yet ever-changing nature. It’s a city that’s ridden the road of history both up and downhill, and one that merits a second look despite what you might have heard about it elsewhere. It’s not all students and burning couches down here!

View of the Octagon . ©Dunedin NZ

Meaning Edinburgh in Gaelic, Dunedin has had undeniably Scottish roots from its establishment in 1848 by the Free Church of Scotland. Subsequent history including the gold rush in the 1860s and the foundation of New Zealand’s oldest university in 1869 have meant that its accumulated character has been one that is both multicultural and unique, and in the late 1800s it was the country’s largest urban centre.
Although that particular accolade would never be granted again, the city has retained its diversity, as well as a number of monuments from its boom days, including the University of Otago clock tower, First Church, the Railway Station and the Law Courts. The 1930s economic depression meant a slow in population growth that continued past the Second World War, though the city itself continued its sprawl across hills and valleys all the same.
Dunedin continues to grow even now. With its multicultural and diverse background, the city has something to offer everyone! I have tried to ferret out the main types of travellers and give them an ideal itinerary featuring somewhere to eat and somewhere to stay, in addition to two activities, one paid and the other free. Of course you’re welcome to pick and mix your traveller types to find your ideal, self-tailored itinerary… or you could always call us, and we’ll do that for you!



/ədˈvɛntʃə/ – noun: an unusual and exciting or daring experience

The curious and brave have a smorgasbord of offerings at their fingertips. Plan a couple of days for these activities and begin your visit with a relaxed evening at Moïety, where your taste buds will take a mouth-watering adventure over a fixed five course menu (reservations recommended). Spend the night at any one of Dunedin’s inner-city hotels, but get an early night as you’ll have a full day tomorrow…

Moiety cuisine

Rise early the next morning and make the trek down to Tunnel Beach (20mn drive south of Dunedin Centre). Take in the stunning and strange tunnel carved into the rock, and the elusive little beach below, before heading back up the steep slope back to your car. Don’t be fooled by the ‘Easy Walk’ rating DOC has given this… the return trip (1 hr) will probably steal your breath (and it won’t just be because of the breath-taking scenery!).

After a scenic drive to Natures Wonders, hop aboard your adventure chariot (an Argo 8 wheel drive) for an Argo Wildlife Tour (1hr). You’ll be transported across the Reid family farm in search of wildlife – yellow eyed penguins (hoiho), blue penguins and NZ fur seals await, along with splendid views of the coastline and beaches.

After a short drive to the Portobello pontoon, you’ll wait for your Port to Port water taxi to arrive to whisk you off to Quarantine Island, where you’ll spend the night (BYO sleeping bag, dormitory accommodation, booking essential). Make sure you head up to the ‘Shot at Dawn’ memorial for a memorable view of the sunset. There’s also a great wee walk that will take you around the island, and make you feel like a true explorer.

Port to Port water taxi. © Kassandra Lynne


/ɔːθɛnˈtɪsɪti/ – noun: the quality of being authentic.

There’s a lot of debate about what ‘authentic’ travel is, but I find it easiest to quantify by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s quote “The Authentic Self is Soul Made Visible”. It’s what the citizens of the city might identify with – something that resonates with them. It might not be your average offering, but it will show you what it is to be a Dunedinite.

So… start your day at the Bacon Buttie Station. It’s not pretentious, you’ll see people from all walks of life here. They’re open every day of the week, just don’t expect a beautiful plate of food to photograph… what you can expect is great bacon sandwiches, and some decent coffee, clean tables and good service.

Now is a great time to mosey on down to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens and walk off that breakfast. Open from dawn to dusk every day of the year, admission is free and so is stopping to smell the flowers. There’s a children’s playground, an aviary and an impressive four-hectare Rhododendron Dell. It’s a beautiful inner-city sanctuary that showcases the nature side of Dunedin without even leaving city proper.

Botanic Garden. ©Dunedin NZ

Before heading to the Otago Peninsula, have a beer at Emerson’s Brewery, near the stadium.

Your final stop today will be a place that is woven into the tapestry of Dunedin, a watchtower that reigns over the peninsula and offers a beautiful view of the city you spent the day discovering: Larnach Castle. Prior to arrival you can choose between 2 different options of staying on site: either in one of 12 comfortable rooms at the Lodge, most with sweeping views of the Otago harbour, or for the more budget conscious there are rooms above the old stables with a more basic setting.

Larnach Castle. ©Dunedin NZ

Unfortunately there isn’t the option to stay in the castle proper, but both Lodge and Stable options include entry to the castle and its gardens. The next morning, get up early and you’ll be able to experience the place with few other guests. You’ll almost feel like Lord or Lady of the Manor!


/ˈklasɪk/ – noun: a thing which is memorable and a very good example of its kind.

If you’re looking for a classic overview of Dunedin, a showcase of the city’s longest standing institutions that have stood the test of time and prevailed through good and bad, representing our fair Edinburgh of the South with pride, then this is the place for you.
Start your day by driving out to Weller’s Rock, the departure point for our one hour cruise on the Monarch, a boat that has been in operation for over 35 years – to put it into perspective, I’m in my early 30s, and my grandfather (a nautical engineer) once worked on this boat’s engine! If you’d like, you can also pair this excursion with a visit of Penguin Place, the Albatross Colony or Larnach Castle.

Yellow-eyed Penguins. ©Yoann Feillet

With the sea air having whipped up your appetite, the logical next stop is Best Café, where fish and chips and buttered white bread await, in the true kiwi style of old. A Dunedin institution, this place has been around since 1932 serving anyone who loves good fish and solid, retro tables. Unassuming in both décor and presentation of food, it’s open from Monday – Saturday. They let the fish take a break on Sundays.

Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll want to stop by the Dunedin Railway Station, allegedly the most photographed building in the Southern hemisphere. Built in 1906 its stunning architecture is worth gazing upon, before you marvel at the tiling on the floor of the main hall, then head up to the gallery above to admire the stained glass windows, lovingly restored (by my uncle!). If you’re lucky enough to be around on a Saturday you’ll want to make this stop in the morning, so you can fit in breakfast at the Otago Farmers Market.

Dunedin Railway Station. ©Yoann Feillet

Your bed for the night is back at the Southern entrance of the city, the Commodore Motel, long famous among locals for the waving cardboard man welcoming you home. Although that’s no longer there (or wasn’t when I last drove past), the motel itself still is, and the interior has been nicely spruced up, welcoming you with muted colours, Dunedin decor and modern furniture.

Of course the above itineraries are but an indication of the things that are possible. Antipodes Travel prides themselves on being able to cater to every traveler, whether they’re adventurers or escape artists. They are passionate about Dunedin and its surrounds, and they will make sure that you get the most out of your time in the city.

Ebony Hinds

Read the next article for ideas for people looking for an {escape}, for {self-improvement} or for {relaxation}.

Dunedin & The Otago Peninsula Multi-day Tours:

  • “French Rendez-vous at Larnach Castle”: Discover in Dunedin what you wished to find in France! Immerse yourself in French culture and language with your experienced native French guides.
  • “Bonjour Dunedin” (18th to 24th January):  Immerse yourself in French culture and sharpen up your language skills. Native French-speaking guides from Dunedin add unmistakable French flair to the experience & provide an unparalleled opportunity for you to speak the language of love!
  • One-day landscape photography workshop around Dunedin: Yoann, a Kiwi/French professional tour guide and photographer who has lived in Dunedin for over 18 years, will guide you on a day of discovery of nature photography around Dunedin.