Larnach Castle covered in snow in winter

What to do in Dunedin this winter – our top 10

Dunedin is an amazing place to visit any time of the year. From the surfing in the summer to the beautiful colours of the gardens in the autumn to the snow covered ground in the winter. We absolutely love Dunedin in the winter months. It’s pretty cold down here but there is so much to do both inside and out and it’s a pretty magical place this time of year.

If you are visiting Dunedin this winter, here is our list of the top ten things to do:

1.      Dunedin Railway Station

Famous Dunedin Railway Station was designed by George Troup and open in 1906. Dunedin

Famous Dunedin Railway Station was designed by George Troup and open in 1906. Dunedin

We just love the railway station in Dunedin. The gothic-style architecture boasts of the wealth that Dunedin experienced during the gold rush and both inside and out, this is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular buildings. We definitely recommend catching a train from here (more of that later) as there is something special about pulling into this station.

2.      Toitu Otago Settlers Museum

One of New Zealand’s best museums when it comes to discovering more about our rich culture and heritage is the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Located close to the railway station, the museum has over 100,000 objects that highlight the character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport of the Otago region from before the time of European settlement to today. A fascinating insight into our past and it’s also FREE!

3.      Otago Museum

If museums are your thing, Dunedin is a great place to go, especially on a cold or rainy day. The Otago museum is another that explores our natural history with more national pieces compared to the Toitu Settlers Museum. Many people compare the Otago museum to Te Papa in Wellington and there are some great galleries and exhibitions that change throughout the year.

4.      Signal Hill Walk

Views towards the city, the Otago Harbour and the Pacific Ocean from the lookout at the Centennial Memorial on Signal Hill Dunedin Otago South Island New Zealand

The view from Dunedin’s Signal Hill

There is nothing like a good walk on a cold and crisp day. Whilst it might be cold down here in Dunedin, we do get some cracking blue sky days when the views across the Peninsula and beyond are just stunning. The Signal Hill walk is one of Dunedin’s most popular and can be easily accessed from town. Reaching the top provides you with some pretty awesome panoramic views of Dunedin. If you wrap up warm, it’s a great place to take a picnic lunch and just enjoy the views.

5.      Otago Peninsula

The Otago Peninsula is bursting with wildlife all year round. Dunedin seems to be a magnet for some of the world’s rarest wildlife from the Royal Albatross Centre to the blue penguins to whales and dolphins. The best way to explore the wildlife is to take a guided tour. Elm Wildlife Tours run some fantastic tours all year round so give them whirl the next time you’re in town.

6.      Larnach Castle

Larnach Castle covered in snow in winter

Larnach Castle covered in snow in winter. Image credit:

Larnach Castle if another of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions and winter is such an amazing time to visit. The Castle and grounds are at the heart of any visitor experience to Dunedin and a must for anyone coming to Dunedin for the first time. There is lots to do here; take a castle tour or exploring the magnificent gardens before heading to Ballroom café for a nice hot drink and a lovely cake.

7.      Speight’s Brewery

Whether you’re a beer lover or not, a visit to the Speight’s Brewery is like a rite of passage for visitors to Dunedin. Speight’s is one of New Zealand’s most iconic brands and they have been brewing beer in Dunedin for the last 141 years. They have a huge range of beers from the ever popular Speight’s Gold Medal Ale to the light and refreshing Summit Citrus which launched in 2015. Their Speight’s Ale Houses can be found up and down the country and the food and beer is always great!

8.      Taieri Gorge Railway

The Otago Central Rail Trail starts or finishes at the end of the Taieri Gorge Railway

If the weather is good, you can cycle along the route of the Taieri Gorge Railway on the Otago Rail Trail

This is a great one all year round and in winter, you really get to experience how bleak it can get down in the deepest south. We highly recommend taking the Taieri Gorge to Pukerangi trip which runs from Dunedin’s magnificent railway station. This is often regarded as one of the world’s great train trips and is a must for all visitors to Dunedin. You can find out more about this stunning railway in one of our recent blog posts:

9.      Olveston Historic Home

Another of Dunedin’s fantastic museums, Olveston Historic Home was built for one of Dunedin’s leading businessmen and designed by English architect Sir Ernest George. The house has had an interesting history and in 1967, the house was gifted to the city of Dunedin and was established as a time capsule museum, showcasing the family home that was occupied by the Theomin family from 1906 to 1966.

10. Botanic Gardens

Sunset in botanic garden, Dunedin

Sunset in botanic garden, Dunedin

If you get a lovely crisp winters’ day, a trip to the Botanic Gardens is a must. Whilst gardens do have a lull during the winter months, some plants actually come to life at this time of year and Dunedin’s Botanic Gardens have made sure there is something to see all year round. The Himalayan daphne is flowering beautifully at this time of year and with an entire section of the gardens dedicated to winter and spring flowers, you will not have to look far to find some striking colours.

So there you have it, out top ten winter activities for Dunedin. We’d love to hear if you have any more tips up your sleeve so make sure you drop us a line on our Facebook page or let us know if you give any of our top ten a whirl.