31 best things to do in the central North Island
Dominated by the enormous Lake Taupō and a trio of volcanoes including Mount Ruapehu, the Central Plateau is sporting a plethora of natural ...
If you’ve got a pack to entertain, you’ve come to the right place. Dunedin, the ‘Edinburgh of the south’ is bursting with interesting and unique attractions, from New Zealand history to the area’s abundant wildlife. Our top five things to do for free around Dunedin will give you all the inspiration you need – plus we’ve got a few options on the affordable end of the scale.
Go wildlife spotting on Otago Peninsula
A little drive east will get you to a great wildlife spotting destination at Sandfly Bay on the Otago Peninsula. You’ll get stunning views, some sweet dune-sliding action, and best of all, you might just spot some native seals, sea lions and even yellow-eyed penguins – just be sure to keep your distance.
Soak up some history at Otago Museum
There’s plenty to fascinate the kids at the Otago Museum, from the Rat King in the Victorian taxidermy Animal Attic, to scale models of real ships including the Wahine, and New Zealand’s largest fossil. For a fee, you can also access the Tūhura Science Centre and the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium.
Go for a stroll… or a climb… on the world’s steepest street
Tucked away in an unassuming Dunedin suburb, Baldwin Street owns the title of the steepest street in the world. It’s definitely more of a climb than a stroll to get to the top, but your bragging rights will be well earned!
See native birds in the Dunedin Botanic Garden aviary
New Zealand’s oldest public garden also boasts a pretty spectacular aviary, full of native birds like kea and kaka that make it a definite highlight. The garden itself is beautiful, with many different botanical collections including the four-hectare Rhododendron Dell and the Winter Garden Glasshouse. You can feed the ducks from the main pond’s jetty, stop off at the playground, and grab a brochure from the information centre to explore the Children’s Play Trail.
Walk the Organ Pipes Track
This might be one for the older kids as the trail is quite steep in places, but the unique and spectacular columns of rock – or organ pipes – make it well worth it. Adventurous members of the family will get a kick out of climbing the columns for an even more amazing view.
In summer, the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool is a stunning spot for a soak, perched right on St Clair beach with views of the Pacific Ocean. There’s also a toddler’s pool and café on site. Entry is $3.30 for children and $7.20 for adults, and the pool is open from October to March. For some all-year-round water fun, the Moana Pool complex boasts hydroslides, a rapid river and wave pool, plus a spa and lap pool for the serious swimmers. Entry is $3.30 for children and $7.20 for adults.
Pay a visit to New Zealand’s very own castle and feel like a true lord or lady of the manor. You can explore the beautiful gardens and grounds while admiring the castle from the outside for $17.50 per adult, or head inside the castle as well for $35 per adult. Children under 14 are free.
Tūhura Science Centre at Otago Museum
Dunedin’s largest museum also boasts New Zealand’s biggest science centre. Kids will be all about the three-storey indoor slide, the tropical forest complete with waterfall, sky bridge and exotic butterflies, and heaps of hands-on activities to get their minds whirring. Entry is $10 for children and $15 for adults.
Little blue penguin viewing tours
If you haven’t seen a few penguins, have you really experienced Dunedin? Get a bird’s eye view (sorry) of these ridiculously cute penguins coming home for the night from the Pilot’s Beach viewing platform, where the Royal Albatross Centre guides can answer any questions your children might have and ensure everyone gets a good close up look at the world’s smallest penguin. Tickets are $35 for adults and $10 for children.