Things to do in Dunedin

Activities, attractions and tours
Larnach Castle which includes street scenes and chateau or palace

Dunedin Attractions

Dunedin, known as Ōtepoti in Maori, is the main city of the Otago region and is the second largest city in New Zealand's South Island. Originally inhabited by Maori groups starting from the 1200s and later settled by Europeans in the 18th century, Dunedin experience its boom during the Otago Gold Rush in the 1860s. Today, the city is a picturesque mix of Victorian and Edwardian architecture alongside stunning natural landscapes. Find an abundance of things to do in Dunedin, from exploring local heritage in well-preserved churches and homes from centuries ago to wandering in the beautiful scenery of the Otago Peninsula and the Dunedin hinterlands.

Top things to do in Dunedin

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Dunedin must see attractions

1. Larnach Castle

Explore the striking Larnach Castle and admire its elaborate woodcarvings and crystal chandeliers. Learn the tragic story of its original inhabitants and admire breathtaking views of the Otago Peninsula from the well-tended grounds.
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Discover tales of romance and tragedy, see rare Victorian furniture and take in stunning ocean vistas at New Zealand’s only castle.

2. The Octagon

Visit The Octagon to admire the superb cathedral and Victorian town hall, relax with a coffee at one of many open-air cafés or lie on the lawns and escape the busy city streets. Dunedin’s eight-sided central plaza is the ideal first port of call on your tour of the city.
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Dunedin’s city center combines some of the city’s finest historic buildings with serene parkland and relaxed cafés.

3. Dunedin Botanic Garden

Spend a day in nature at Dunedin Botanic Garden. Wander amid towering trees and marvel at multi-coloured flowers from all corners of the globe. Visit an aviary and appreciate the views from the garden’s hills. Established in 1863, Dunedin Botanic Garden is New Zealand’s oldest botanical garden. It covers an area of around 30 hectares (75 acres), which consists of an arboretum, greenhouses, rockeries, and more.
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Spot native birdlife, admire thousands of colourful plant species and enjoy picnics on lush green lawns at this pretty public garden.

4. Regent Theatre

Choose a performance to attend from the year-round program of ballets, concerts, musicals, operas and other events at Dunedin’s Regent Theatre. The theatre is actually a collection of three individual buildings set on The Octagon plaza. The oldest of these buildings, the magnificent auditorium, dates back to 1876. Admire its revived Baroque style and book a seat for a performance in this space with capacity for just over 1,600 patrons. Join a guided tour and go behind-the-scenes at the auditorium, stage and dressing rooms.
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A busy schedule of book fairs, family-friendly theatrical shows, film screenings, live concerts and well-known Broadway productions makes this city theatre a one-stop venue for cultural events.

5. Baldwin Street

Put your legs to the test as you climb the almost impossibly steep road to the summit of Baldwin Street. Rest at the top and enjoy views across the city and parkland. Then make your way back to town for a well-earned drink.
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Known for its colossal mountains, rough seas and wild rivers, New Zealand is also home to the world’s steepest residential street.

6. Signal Hill

Signal Hill is a hilltop observation point that rises above the northeast region of Dunedin’s city centre. Come here to enjoy some peace and quiet while surrounded by inspiring natural scenery. Marvel at the panoramic views of the city’s coastline and spot historic landmarks. At its highest point Signal Hill reaches 393 metres (1,289 feet) and is encompassed by picturesque parkland.
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Bike, drive or walk to this hilltop lookout to admire the uninterrupted views over Dunedin’s Pacific Ocean coastline and Otago Harbour.

7. Otago Museum

Study a display of indigenous artefacts that includes a 19th-century canoe and fine woodcarvings at the excellent Otago Museum. Stand beside the skeleton of a huge fin whale and stroll around a living rainforest complete with colourful birds and butterflies.
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Find prehistoric fossils and ancient statues. Learn all about the enthralling cultural and physical history of New Zealand.

What to do in Dunedin

Free Things to Do in Dunedin

There's no need to run your credit card hot in Dunedin. The following won't cost a cent.

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum - Talk to the friendly staff and learn more about the special collections housed here.

The Octagon - Mingle with some locals and discover the real personality and spirit of this special place.

Hocken Library - If you'd like to explore a few of the more important or interesting places in the community, this is a good place to start.

St. Paul's Cathedral - Inject some spirituality into your travels with a stop at this religious attraction.

St. Clair Beach - Bounce rocks across the water, watch the sun rise or just relish the views from the foreshore.

Bush Creek Trail - Appreciate the stark difference between city life and nature's beauty at this beautiful place.

Glenfalloch Woodland Garden - Grab your rug, pack some nibbles and find a shady spot to relish nature.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Dunedin

The Octagon - The Octagon is an 8-sided plaza that serves as Dunedin's city center and is marked by a statue of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. The plaza is lined with al fresco eateries and charming cafes and is a major transportation hub, connecting to the main thoroughfares of Upper and Lower Stuart Street. From here it's just a few steps to the historic Dunedin Town Hall and Saint Paul's Cathedral, both registered on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Otago Harbour - Otago Harbour is a natural harbor that separates Dunedin from the Otago Peninsula. The harbor was formed from a drowned shield volcano and is home to an incredible range of seabirds and marine mammals, including New Zealand sea lions, fur seals, and yellow-eyed penguins. Visit Taiaora Head to see Pilots Beach, an important breeding ground for blue penguins and yellow-eyed penguins, and a colony of northern royal albatrosses.

Otago Peninsula - Marked by steep hills and towering peaks, the Otago Peninsula flanks the southern side of the Otago Harbour. The natural attractions of Harbour Cone, Sandymount, Sandfly Bay, and an abundance of wildlife make the area a popular spot for ecotours and hiking. The Larnach Castle and the unique Pyramid rock formations on Victory Beach draw visitors out along the coast as well.

What to See in Dunedin

The rich architecture and nearby natural beauty of Dunedin make the city picturesque as can be. The gorgeous gardens of Larnach Castle, which features a Gothic Revival façade, are designated as a Garden of International Significance and offer a different look at the Otago Peninsula. Take a ride on the Taieri Gorge Railway, or Dunedin Railways, for amazing vistas of lush green landscapes and the rolling hills of the Dunedin hinterlands. The city of Dunedin itself is rife with impressive Victorian and Edwardian structures, including the historic Dunedin Railway Station and the First Church of Dunedin, which was designed by architect Robert Lawson.

Sightseeing in Dunedin

Dunedin offers endless possibilities for exploration and adventure. Take advantage of the incredible nature that surrounds the city by going cycling or hiking on the many trails throughout the region. Spots like Signal Hill, which offers an exhilarating downhill track, and the Otago Central Rail Trail, a beautiful off-road cycling path, are popular places to ride with friends and family. The flat and compact layout of Dunedin City itself makes it easy to explore by foot Segway as well. Attractions within the city limits include the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, New Zealand's oldest museum that delves into the history of the entire Otago Province, and Cadbury World, where you can learn all about how decadent chocolates are made. Tour the Olveston Historic Home and learn of the influential Theomin family, whose original antique furnishings and artworks are still on display.

The natural heritage of Dunedin is one of its greatest draws, and you can immerse yourself in the fascinating wildlife and scenery of the area by visiting the Orokonui Eco Sanctuary or venturing into the Otago Peninsula. Be sure to catch sight of birds like enormous royal albatrosses, curious yellow-eyed penguins, and adorable blue penguins, as well as marine mammals like fur seals, sea lions, and dusky dolphins during your stay.


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