One of the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, Dunedin, is nothing short of spectacular. Scots settled the town, and its name is an anglicized version of Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh.
Dunedin is a cultural hub, a university town, and a city with a robust historical flare. It is a small city with a colorful, walkable city center enclosed by hilly suburbs. It has easy access to wildlife attractions, beaches, and fields of native forest. A vigorous, architecturally imposing city framed by a glittering harbor – it is much more than a one night stay.
Here are the things to do in Dunedin.
- Wildlife: Dunedin is the wildlife capital of New Zealand. Few towns anywhere in the world have such a largely distinct seaside wildlife population, including many Antarctic species that prefer Dunedin’s more tolerant climes. Taiaroa Head is the world’s only mainland albatross breeding colony, amazingly within sight of the city’s skyscape. Wildlife in Dunedin gives you unparalleled insight into the territories and practices of globally famous wildlife, especially Royal Yellow-eyed and Blue Penguins, Albatross, Sea Lions, and New Zealand Fur Seals. After a few hours at sea, the blue penguins gather in assemblies known as “rafts” not far offshore where they often can be caught vocalizing – usually short, intense squawks. At dusk, penguins come ashore and make their way to their dens where they serve their roost or chicks. Don’t forget to read the Dunedin Wildlife Care Code, which sketches how to communicate with our beloved endangered species and their environments. You gotta help them preserve and conserve these wonderful animals.
- Bicycling: Although some of those ranges are incredibly steep, Dunedin’s town center is relatively flat. There is a recycling-center down by the east end of the docks in Wickliffe Street, which usually has one or two good-condition bicycles lying about for $10 apiece. Carefully add air and oil, and you’re ready to go. You will also need a stack-hat/skid-lid/helmet, which are usually not available second-hand for accountability reasons (tourists spoil them) but can be had new for $20 from the KMart in Meridian, between Filleul Street and George Street. There is an excellent flat ride along the western shore of the Otago Peninsula to Harington Point, although it’s a thin road shared by many tour buses. A sequence track runs along the manufacturing eastern coast of the harbor, about halfway to Port Chalmers. If you like a taste of a hill-climb, ride out along North Road to the Organ Pipes, a compilation of rapidly-cooled volcanic lava carved into upright columnar basalt. The walk along a bush track up to the Pipes themselves is very picturesque and well accompanied by cute, innocent wildlife. DON’T HARM THEM.
- Sightseeing Train: Dunedin Railway Station is an excursion train trip traveling through magnificent scenery. It starts from the historic Dunedin Railway Station in central Dunedin and ends at the Middlemarch’s small village. Departing daily, it takes you on tour through the rough and panoramic Taieri River Gorge, across wrought iron bridges and through tunnels sculpted by hand more than 100 years ago. Take your photo-camera and tonnes of memory.
- Watch Sports: While staying in Dunedin, you can go to a rugby game. A massive part of Otago culture. From February until the end of July, the Highlanders play sports at the covered Forsyth Barr Stadium. You can also indulge in local club games that you can watch for free at parks around the city on weekends. Cricket follows rugby as the national sporting pastime when summertime arrives. National level cricket matches are played at the University Oval throughout the summer, along with the random international game. On a bright and breezy day, it’s a great way to spend your time.