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Your guide to Dunedin
All About Dunedin
Surrounded by dramatic hills and rugged, grassy cliffs dropping into turquoise waters, Dunedin is often referred to as the Edinburgh of New Zealand. Located at the head of Otago Harbor on the east coast of the South Island, Dunedin’s Scottish heritage is evident in its Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The city is rich in history yet has a thriving contemporary cultural scene. Home to New Zealand’s oldest university, the University of Otago, Dunedin’s central region is full of delicious eateries, craft breweries, and live music venues. Curated street art by internationally renowned artists covers buildings all over the city. You’ll find local, regional, and international exhibits at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, as well as exhibitions of natural history at the Otago Museum.
The valleys and hills of an extinct volcano meet the Waipori and Taieri rivers to the southwest of Dunedin and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Protected wildlife and beautiful landscapes complement the uniquely vibrant culture, with hiking and cycling trails passing through the city and crisscrossing the Otago Peninsula. Along the beaches at the edge of town, you may be able to spot a number of rare species, including penguins, seals, and shags. Dunedin is also the only mainland breeding ground in the world for royal albatrosses.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Dunedin
Dunedin is located in the Southern Hemisphere, so bear in mind that the seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. As a coastal city, its climate is significantly affected by the ocean, with mild summers and cool winters. Some spring days can seem like they contain all four seasons, but the weather is generally mild and consistent from November to April, ideal for mountain biking on Mt Allan’s Pulpit Rock trail. Summers are warm and sunny, perfect for surfing, swimming, and enjoying a relaxing day at one of the beautiful beaches along the peninsula.
Autumn, which starts in March, brings cooler days and bursts of orange, red, and yellow throughout the valley. The Dunedin Fringe Festival takes place in March across the city, showcasing art and entertainment by new and established artists. While winter brings colder, dry days, clear skies unveil epic starry nights. Step inside and explore local art in one of the many local galleries or brave the chilly waters at St. Clair beach during the city’s annual “winter plunge.”
Top things to do in Dunedin
The Otago Museum houses more than 1.5 million artifacts showcasing natural, cultural, and scientific stories of the country and the world through exhibitions, tours, and talks. The museum’s Tūhura Science Centre is an all-ages education and entertainment hub with 45 interactive exhibits, a double-helix indoor slide, a tropical forest, and a planetarium. The museum is open daily.
St. Kilda and St. Clair Beaches
A 15-minute drive from the city center by car or bus, St. Kilda and St. Clair beaches comprise one long stretch of beautiful white sand along the Pacific Ocean. A popular swimming spot, the beach is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months and offers the most consistent surf breaks along the peninsula. A collection of bars and cafes dot the St. Clair Esplanade, perfect for a morning coffee or a casual meal after a day in the sun.
Southern Scenic Route
Stretching nearly 375 miles from Dunedin to Queenstown, the Southern Scenic Route provides access to deserted beaches, lush rainforest, pristine lakes, and stunning mountain vistas. View some of New Zealand’s unique wildlife, including native birds and seals, or stop off and explore museums and heritage sites rich in Māori history and culture. Most of the road is sealed, but some portions are not, so make sure to slow down and drive according to the conditions of the road.