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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.
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.
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.
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.