Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things to Do in Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin Bucket List: Amazing Places to Visit in Dunedin, New Zealand

Located in the South Island of New Zealand, Dunedin is the second-largest city in the region after Christchurch and the major city in the Otago region. The city has some traces of Scottish heritage since it was established by Presbyterian Scottish immigrants. Though small in stature, Dunedin features some stunning hilly landscapes, and because of that, it is home to the world’s steepest residential street. Thanks to its small size, the city’s center can easily be navigated on foot as you take in the architecture from the 19th century. Here are our 15 Best Things to Do in Dunedin, New Zealand:

1. Visit Larnach Castle

Larnach Castle photo via Depositphotos

The most impressive and populous building in the city, the Larnach Castle, is the only castle in New Zealand.

It was built towards the end of the 19th century by William Larnach, who made his wealth during Otago’s gold rush period. Being a rich man, it is noticeable that no expense was spared during construction.

2. Admire the Dunedin Botanic Garden

Dunedin Botanic Garden by Krzysztof Golik via Wikipedia CC
Dunedin Botanic Garden By Krzysztof Golik – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC

Taking a trip to the Dunedin Botanic Garden is among the best things to do in the city. Opened in 1863, this garden was the first of its kind in New Zealand and is home to almost 7,000 different plants, both natives and international.

Just stroll inside the garden as you enjoy the stunning scenery.

3. Check out the Otago Museum

Otago Museum by Grutness via Wikipedia CC
Otago Museum By Grutness at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

Dating back to 1876, the Otago Museum contains all the information you need about the country’s cultural and natural heritage.

It is also where you will find the largest museum collection in New Zealand. Here you can learn about the life of the Maori people in South Island.

Not to be missed is the Discovery World, where you can encounter butterfly-packed rainforest.

4. Learn about the Otago Settlers

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum by Grutness via Wikipedia CC
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum by Grutness via Wikipedia CC

While still in the spirit of learning about the people of the South Island, check into the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and discover the story of the Maori and the settlers who trickled into the island during the 19th century Otago gold rush.

The museum features incredible multimedia and highly interactive display about the city’s evolution.

5. Check into Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Chief Ngairo Rakaihikuroa in Wairarapa at Dunedin Public Art Gallery by Gottfried Lindauer via Wikipedia CC
Chief Ngairo Rakaihikuroa in Wairarapa at Dunedin Public Art Gallery By Gottfried Lindauer – Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Public Domain, CC

Dunedin Public Art Gallery is one of the country’s premier galleries and is home to a wide collection of artwork by notable local artists and some international artists, including murals by Turner and Machiavelli.

There is also a space in the museum designated for decorative pieces, including ceramics, textiles, and glassware.

Local artists such as Bruce Mahalski and Frances Hodgkins also have their works featured at the museum.

6. Take a trip to Otago Peninsula

Royal Albatross Center
Royal Albatross Center

Though there is nothing much going on at Otago Peninsula, there are two attractions that you must check out if you find yourself there. Taiaroa Head is a popular stop with an incredible wildlife reserve.

At the same time, Royal Albatross Center is the first private charitable conservation trust in New Zealand and is home to a huge colony of royal albatross and red-billed gulls, rare Stewart Island shag, royal spoonbills, and southern fur seals.

7. Marvel at the Dunedin’s Railway Station

Dunedin Railway Station
Dunedin Railway Station

Built-in 1904 in Edwardian Baroque style by an architect called George Troup, this magnificent railway station also features shades of Neo-Gothic style. After drawing plenty of attention from the public, the architect was knitted for his impressive work.

The building is one of the most popular and recognizable structures in the city. Dunedin Railway Station connects the city and Taieri Gorge and is also where you will find the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

8. Explore every inch of Olveston’s home

Olveston Historic Home in Dunedin, New Zealand via Depositphotos
Olveston Historic Home in Dunedin, New Zealand via Depositphotos

This historic home was built in 1906 by local philanthropist and collector David Theomin, which served as his private home.

Its façade was designed by Sir George Ernest, borrowing some design ideas from the English Arts and Craft Movement of the early 1900s. The rooms feature some of Theomin’s treasures from around the world.

9. Visit Port of Chalmers

Port Chalmers by Benchill via Wikipedia CC
Port Chalmers By Benchill – Own work, Public Domain, CC

Lying some 12 kilometers north of the city, Port Chalmers is the main port of Dunedin and was named after one of its founders, Dr. Thomas Chalmers. The district is home to numerous private art galleries and café culture and served as the colonizers’ entry point in 1844.

There is a Scott Memorial that commemorates one of the city’s first visitors Captain Scott, who sailed from this harbor for his last tragic voyage in 1910.

10. Enjoy the views of the city from the Signal Hill

The view looking south across central Dunedin and the head of the Otago Harbour, from the New Zealand Centennial monument on Signal Hill by Grutness via Wikipedia CC
The view looking south across central Dunedin and the head of the Otago Harbour, from the New Zealand Centennial monument on Signal Hill By Grutness at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

Rising 393 meters high, Signal Hill offers the best vantage point from which to see the city and Otago Harbor as well as the lands beyond.

On top of this hill, you will find a monument honoring the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1940, the founding document of New Zealand.

11. Swim at Tunnel Beach

Collage of the tunnel at Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand by Ingolfson via Wikipedia CC
Collage of the tunnel at Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand By Ingolfson at English Wikipedia(Original text: Uploader.) – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.(Original text: Own picture.), Public Domain, CC

The tunnel at this beach formed in the 1870s and offers a great spot for seaside hiking. Though the coastline is exposed to stormy winds, it is still worth a visit.

To access the tunnel, you will have to climb down and then back up some 72 steps, which can be quite slippery when drizzly.

12. Explore the Dunedin Railways

Train travelling through the Taieri Gorge by Mike Goren via Wikipedia CC
A train traveling through the Taieri Gorge By Mike Goren from New York – Scenic Train, CC BY 2.0, CC

Enjoy further a piece of New Zealand’s histrionic landscape by taking a trip to the Dunedin Railways.

The historic carriages go through the staggering striking Otago hinterland, especially the Taieri Gorge on an elevated viaduct and across abundant bridges and 10 tunnels on the hillsides.

13. Take a day trip to Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Located around 20 kilometers’ drive from the city, the Orokonui Ecosanctuary is an interesting biodiversity site that takes up more than 300 hectares in Coastal Otago coppice in the Orokonui Valley. Here you can spot a myriad of creatures and native plants.

14. Marvel at the Moeraki Boulders

Cloudy Sunrise at Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand via Depositphotos
Cloudy Sunrise at Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand via Depositphotos

Consisting of 50 smooth, sphere-shaped rocks, the Moeraki Boulders are a sight to behold on this usually lonely expansive sand beach.

The boulders used to be part of the cliffs along the coastline, but due to millions of years of wave erosions, the cliffs slowly wore away, leaving these peculiar rocks behind.

15. Walk up the Baldwin Street

Baldwin Street, located in Dunedin,New Zealand is the world steepest street in the world photo via Depositphotos
Baldwin Street, located in Dunedin, New Zealand, is the world steepest street in the world photo via Depositphotos

Home to the steepest residential street on earth, a trip to Dunedin is not complete with experiencing its slice of Guinness Book of Record.

Baldwin Street is a popular attraction and among the most Instagrammable spots in the city, located north of Signal Hill.

Dunedin Travel and Tour Packages

To help you plan out your visit to Dunedin, we listed places to visit and other amazing Dunedin NZ. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Dunedin hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist spots in Dunedin, New Zealand? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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