Exploring Central Otago
Central Otago – affectionately known as ‘Central’ – is home to welcoming rural outposts where you can enjoy the famous southern hospitality in ...
Like exploring? Then you’ll love Dunedin and Coastal Otago with its proud eco-paradise cred, rich history and buzzing arts scene.
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. Meet the locals with Elm Wildlife Tours, Monarch Wildlife Cruises & Tours and at Nature’s Wonders, NZ Marine Studies Centre, Penguin Place, Royal Albatross Centre and Orokonui Ecosanctuary. Head out into the great outdoors and catch a wave with Esplanade Surf School or go horse trekking with Hare Hill, explore the coastline in a kayak with Wild Earth Adventures or unwind at the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool. 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. 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 Otago Farmers' Market.
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 The Good Oil, a local favourite that offers quality organic coffee. Also look out for Governor’s Café, 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 Turkish Café or Saigon Van. For smart casual dining, try 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 and Plato. Bars and clubs to try are Carousel and Pequeno. For a relaxed pub, try Speight’s Ale House.
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, 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.
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 Balclutha, 4 Clyde Street, and Dunedin in The Octagon.