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Dunedin and Otago

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Dunedin has a population of 118 143 and is known as the Edinburgh of the South. Dunedin was settled by mainly Scottish Presbyterians in 1848 with the Scottish heritage everywhere, and the central streets around the Octagon replicating the Scottish capital; Edinburgh. The Octagon is the centre of the city and is where visitors to Dunedin can relax under the statue of famous playwright Robbie Burns. Then visit the Presbyterian First Church in Moray Place. Scottish tradition is evident with bagpipes sounding down George Street (the main street) and the haggis ceremony performed regularly. Being Scottish Dunedin also has the first golf club in New Zealand, The Otago Golf Club at Balmacewen.

Dunedin is the largest city in New Zealand, and indeed the fifth largest in the world in terms of land area. Greater Dunedin encompasses many tourist attractions. Visit the peninsula and take in the sights from the tower of New Zealand's restored castle, Larnach's castle. New Zealand's only other castle is also in Dunedin this is called, Cargills castle and is situated in disrepair on the St. Clair hill, which can be seen from the St. Clair golf course. Travel inland to Central Otago and pass Gabriel's Gully, where the third largest gold find in the southern hemisphere during the 1800's sparked Dunedin's economic growth. Being New Zealands first city, during the gold rush Dunedin was for a short period the unofficial capital of New Zealand.

Venture within the central city itself and view the historic buildings such as the Town Hall and Municipal Chambers. The Railway Station is well worth a visit to take in its impressive stained glass windows and intricately detailed mosaic floor.

Modern culture abounds within the city limits. Experience the hospitality of around 140 cafes, restaurants and bars scattered throughout Dunedin. Dunedin establishments cater for all tastes, from fine French dining, Asian, Mediterranean and Latin down to the traditional kiwi experience of fish and chips.

Dunedin boasts the only true student quarter in New Zealand. The University of Otago was established in the 1860's, the first in New Zealand, and many of its initial traditions remain. Watch the Waters of the Leith wind through the beautiful old buildings. Stand on the banks of the river and listen to the clock tower bells chime, as student's scamper to lectures and you may be lucky enough to take in some beginning of year student antics.

Dunedin's history is captured in several museums. The Otago Settler's Museum focuses on the people and past of Otago, as well as the innovative developments that made colonisation easier. Visit the Otago museum next to the University and see how Dunedin was the most pioneering and influential city of early New Zealand.

Surrounding the city is the impressive town belt where you can become lost in the native forest just minutes from the heart of the city.

There are two main beaches in Dunedin. St Kilda and St Clair are both renowned as surf beaches, but are both excellent and safe places to swim due to constant patrolling. St Clair also features a bustling cosmopolitan cafe scene. More private beaches abound on both peninsulas, as well as in Brighton to the south.


The Taiaroa Peninsula features a world-renowned albatross colony. On the scenic drive to the Taiaroa Heads, cast your eyes to the sea and view the playful penguins and seals. .

You must go into the hinterlands of Otago on a tour or by rental car. Take in the farmlands of the Taieri Plains, the rugged coastline or the serenity and great surf of the Catlins area. Experience river's cutting through steep gorges, or take in some fishing.

Central Otago has vast barren hills and rocky gorges and lush plateau. The Clutha River flows through this region, providing water for the numerous fruit growers who abound through out the area and is the largest river in New Zealand. Otago has a great selection of fine white wines due to the climate.

The towns of Alexandra, Cromwell and Clyde set in the heart of central Otago, the barren landscape is mixed with lakes and rivers and contrasting colours that make visiting worthwhile. Ideal for fishing and boating, the summer months provide some of the warmest temperatures in New Zealand.

You can enjoy the adventure activities, nightlife or just relax in the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown. This is a must to visit with something for everybody including some great restaurants accompanied by a fine wine.

Otago is a great region with plenty to see and do for all.

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Coastal Otago's climate:

Average Summer temperature; 16.5c
Warmest months; December to March
Average Winter temperature; 8.6c
Average Hours of sunshine per year; 1645hrs
Average annual rainfall; 960mm

Popular Dunedin and coastal Otago activities

Visit historic Oamaru
See the famous round Moeraki Boulders
Visit Larnach's Castle
Visit other historic Dunedin buildings
Have a tour of the historic Speights Brewery
Tour around the Cadburys factory
Visit the Albatross colony

Key Features

Seal pup


Otago Peninsula
The Otago Peninsula is home to rare and unusual coastal wildlife. Discover hoiho (yellow-eyed penguins), little blue penguins and the world's only mainland albatross colony. Sea lions and fur seals also live here.

Dunedin Railway


Heritage architecture
The Otago gold rush left a legacy of ornate Victorian and Edwardian buildings, regarded as the best collection in the Southern Hemisphere. The Flemish Renaissance-styled railway station is one outstanding example.

Dunedin - Uni Clock


The University of Otago
Founded in 1869, New Zealand's oldest and largest university gives Dunedin its reputation as a centre of learning. The energy and creativity of the vibrant student culture adds fun to daily life in Dunedin.

Key Tips

  • Dunedin airport receives trans-Tasman flights from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Daily domestic flights arrive from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and other provincial centres.
  • Dunedin is located on State Highway 1 approximately 400kms south of Christchurch, 350kms east of Queenstown and 250kms north of Invercargill.
  • Dunedin is the northern entry/exit point for the Southern Scenic Route, a journey around the spectacular south eastern corner of the South Island.
  • To view rare wildlife, you can drive from central Dunedin to the tip of the Otago Peninsula in one hour.


Population: 158,800
Area: 826km2


Reviews / Comments for Dunedin and Otago

Rating Averages


Great place, great town, great time. You will learn to drink Speights, big time.

The University is pretty good too

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We have had the priviledge of living in Southland, Otago and now the Waikato. The South Island of course is "home" and to my mind the most beautiful, but if you live any where in NZ you must be considered fortunate. Cambridge is home for now and is a delightful place of trees, gardens and village activites, handy to lakes, mountains and of course the cities of Hamilton and Auckland. The area has a lot to recommend it but Dunedin will always be favourite.

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The downward trip to Dunedin was broken by a stop at Moeraki for lunch at Fleurs Place. While some of our number had dined there before it was my first visit to this eclectic eating place. With the rain continuing to fall the outside seating area was empty which was a disappointment as a pair of dolphins were frolicking in the bay in and around the moored boats.

Entering the "wooden shed" we were transported into a bustling metropolitan cafe scene albeit furnished by older style tables and chairs - no chrome in site/sight!! Notwithstanding it was 1.00pm on a Friday afternoon the cafe was full to overflowing. We were assured that a table for 5 would be available in about 20 minutes and in the interim we were made welcome at the bar where there was an interesting selection 0f beers local/imported , bottled/on tap as well as an extensive wine list. I chose a Central Otago Sav Blanc which had a fruitier taste than those I would normally consume but not altogether unpleasant.

Nearer to 30 minutes later we were seated and our orders taken - I was impressed by the palm held device that was used to record the order. Four of the group went for the Blue Cod which came with a choice of four sauces while I requested a mussel dish that comprised a herb cream and white wine sauce. I was confronted with an enormous bowl over flowing with mussels and accompanied by a finger bowl and several hand towels (all were used!!). The old fashioned cutlery and china also provided another talking point.

There was some doubt that that I would finish the repast but for me that was never a consideration. The bottom of the bowl contained a healthy serving of sauce which I unashamedly scoped up with a half shell. It was absolutely delicious!! Good reports were also received from the cod eaters and a later group of golfers indulged in the seafood chowder about which they raved. The second group were also fortunate in being seated upstairs by a window that gave a picture perfect aspect of the bay.

Overall I unreservedly recommend stopping and enjoying the experience of dining at Fleurs. The many good reviews and personal referalls I had were well justified. I intend to return as soon as I possibly can. While it may well be at the top end of the price range I can say it is worth both the expense and the travel.

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