Exploring Dunedin & Coastal Otago

Like exploring? Then you’ll love Dunedin and Coastal Otago with its proud eco-paradise cred, rich history and buzzing arts scene.

Do & Discover

Easily accessible from downtown Dunedin, the Otago Peninsula is an eco-paradise with an international reputation. See the area from the water on a cruise and spot dolphins, seals, penguins and other seabirds in their natural habitat, or explore the area by car. Highlights include Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only castle, the Royal Albatross colony at Taiaroa Head and the Marine Studies Centre. The tiny village of Portobello has a handful of accommodation options and eateries, but the region is within easy reach of Dunedin. See the sights with Citibus and Newtons. Meet the locals with Elm Wildlife Tours, Monarch Wildlife Cruises & Tours and at Nature’s Wonders, NZ Marine Studies Centre and Aquarium, Penguin Place, Royal Albatross Centre and Orokonui Ecosantuary. Head out into the great outdoors and catch a wave with Esplanade Surf School, go horse trekking with Hare Hill, rent a bike or take cycle tour with Peninsula Bike & Hire, explore the coastline in a kayak with Wild Earth Adventures or unwind at the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool. Chocoholics can visit the mothership with a trip to Cadbury World while flower fanciers have the Dunedin Botanic Garden and Dunedin Chinese Garden to explore. Tap into the region’s rich history with a train tour on the Taieri Gorge Railway, a visit to Larnach Castle, or dropping by the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, the Otago Museum or the Otago Settlers Museum. For a culture fix, swing by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and catch a sporting event or concert at the covered Forsyth Barr Stadium. For live theatre, look to Fortune Theatre. Catch a film at Hoyts Cinema, Metro Cinema or Rialto Cinemas. Indulge in a spot of retail therapy at Meridian Mall or head to Dunedin Casino for a flutter. For a taste of the region head to the Dunedin Farmers’ Market.

Food & Drink

Caffeine lovers rejoice – it’s easy to get a fix in Dunedin. Because it’s a university city, it’s also well-served with nightspots. The region is also home to some seriously fine dining and casual restaurants. Kick start your day at legendary The Finest Quality, Kiki Beware, Refreshment Room (that’s all one place!) or The Good Oil, a local favourite, that offers quality organic coffee. Also look out for Circadian Rhythm Café, Governors, Modaks, Nova Café, Potpourri Vegetarian Café and The Perc. Starfish Café & Bar is worth seeking out at St Clair Beach. Grab a good-valued bite at Angusburgh, Dost or Saigon Van. For smart casual dining, try Anarkali or No 7 Balmac. Out of town, try 1908 Café or Carey’s Bay Hotel. There are also a number of excellent fine dining restaurants in Dunedin. Some top picks include Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant, Plato and The Palms Restaurant. In the bar scene, look out for Mou Very – quite possibly the smallest bar in New Zealand! Other bars and clubs to try are 10 Bar, Albar, Carousel, Pequeno, Pop, Sammy’s and Tonic. For a relaxed pub, try Speight’s Ale House.

Accommodation

Accommodation options in Dunedin and Central Otago include the opportunity to stay in a castle (seriously!) along with the more regular lodgings like hotels, motels, B&Bs, holiday parks and backpackers. For hotel stays choose between Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin, Quality Hotel Cargills, Scenic Hotel Dunedin City and The Brothers Boutique Hotel. Reservation-worthy guested and hosted options include Albatross Inn, Grandview Bed & Breakfast, Kaimata Retreat and Larnach Lodge. For motel and apartment lodgings check in at 315 Euro, Adrian Motel, Asure St John’s Court or Manor Motel. At the more wallet-friendly end try Aaron Lodge TOP 10 Holiday Park, Portobello Village Tourist Park, McFarmers Backpackers, On Top Backpackers and YHA Dunedin, Stafford Gables.

Local Knowledge

Dunedin Airport is located 30 minutes from the city with domestic flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Trans-Tasman flights to Brisbane are available. Behind the wheel Dunedin is 5 hours, 10 minutes from Christchurch; Oamaru is 3 hours, 20 minutes from Christchurch; and Cromwell, in Central Otago, is 6 hours from Christchurch, 3 hours, 15 minutes from Dunedin, and 50 minutes from Queenstown. Coaches service the area while the Taieri Gorge Railway connects Dunedin and Middlemarch. Visit an i-SITE Visitor Information Centre at Clutha, 4 Clyde Street, and Dunedin at 26 Princes Street or talk to the Department of Conservation at 77 Lower Stuart Street.

Want more? Get the New Zealand Travel Guide delivered to your device for extensive listings, invaluable contacts, insider travel tips and New Zealand’s best-kept travel secrets. Purchase and download the New Zealand Travel Guide e-Book here.