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Flat Stream Viaduct on the Taieri Gorge Railway Line, Dunedin

What to do in Dunedin – our Top 10 picks!

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.

With a city that absolutely jam-packed with things to do, we thought we’d put together a list of our favourites, so you can select from the best when planning your next trip to the city.

Here is our list of the Top 10 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. Without a doubt, this is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular buildings and is said to be one of the most photographed buildings in the Southern Hemisphere.

As well as being a beautiful building, it also has a sports museum, art exhibitions and a restaurant to enjoy. It’s also a functioning train station of course, which we’ll talk more about later!

2.      Toitu Otago Settlers Museum

The spectacular Toitu Otago Settler Museum

The spectacular Toitu Otago Settler Museum, Dunedin

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.

With great interactive displays and highlights like a penny farthing bike you can actually ride, it’s a great place to spend a few hours learning more about this fascinating part of the country. The number one rated thing to do in TripAdvisor, the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum also has FREE admission!

3.      Otago Museum

Dunedin is blessed with some fantastic museums and another great example is the Otago Museum exploring New Zealand’s natural history featuring some fantastic national pieces.

Situated next other iconic institutions of learning like the Central Library and the University of Otago, the Otago Museum has been likened to the Te Papa of the South Island with some great galleries and a comprehensive programme of exhibitions throughout the year.

Visitors love the incredible Butterfly House (which you can also do Yoga in) as well as the Discovery World and Animal Attic which are a great hit with the kids!

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 in beautiful surroundings and great views at the end of it. Not every city in the world can offer such opportunities but Dunedin is one of them because of the iconic Signal Hill.

The Signal Hill walk is one of Dunedin’s most popular and can be easily accessed from town. With a summit elevation of 393m, reaching the top provides you with some pretty awesome panoramic views of the city and sea.

Unquestionably the best lookout point in Dunedin, there are also a number of interesting monuments including a large stone from Edinburgh in Scotland, a tribute to the city’s heritage.

5.      Otago Peninsula

The Otago Peninsula is simply something that has to be explored as part of a trip to Dunedin. The scenery is stunning, the wildlife plentiful and exotic and the memories created, long-lasting.

Sandfly Bay is an especially popular spot as a great beach for swimming and spotting yellow-eyed penguins and sea lions. There’s also a walking trail that crosses farmland and sand dunes as another thing to do.

The Peninsula’s only town, Portobello, is well worth a visit as well a quaint little time capsule and the Royal Albatross Centre gives you the amazing opportunity to see the only mainland breeding and nesting spot in the world for these magnificent birds.

6.      Larnach Castle

Stunning aerial shot of Larnach Castle in Dunedin

Larnach Castle is not only one of Dunedin’s most popular attractions – it’s one of the most popular attractions in New Zealand with over 120,000 visitors every year.

One of the reasons for its popularity is because of the fact that it is one of the few buildings of its type (i.e. castle) in New Zealand. It has been wonderfully restored and maintained over the years and provides a fascinating insight into the opulent lives of the most privileged at the time.

The award-winning gardens are also a big draw and are 1 of only 5 gardens in New Zealand rated as internationally significant. You should also try and include a High Tea experience in the famous Ballroom Café if you have the time!

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 its range of craft beers like its Gold Rush and Alpine Pale Ale.

Their brewery tour is good fun and their charismatic guides will take you through the history of the brewery and label as well as their brewing techniques. Of course, you’ll also get a few samples to try for yourself.

Once you’ve finished your tour you can go to their restaurant, the Speight’s Alehouse, for a generous helping of quality Southern fare.

8.      Taieri Gorge Railway

One of the many spectacular viaducts along the Taieri Gorge Railway

One of the many spectacular viaducts along the Taieri Gorge Railway

We hinted there would be more about railways before and we’re not ones to disappoint and the Taieri Gorge Railway certainly doesn’t disappoint known as one of the great railway trips in the world.

Departing from the aforementioned Dunedin Railway Station, passing through the Gorge will give you the opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s most varied and remarkable landscape along the way.

The heritage train with outdoor viewing platforms is a joy to ride and the buffet car has some tasty treats available as well.

The route to Pukerangi is a 4-hour return journey with a few additional stops along the way. It’s a great adventure that has a bit of everything!

9.      Botanic Gardens

We couldn’t publish this blog without mentioning the beautiful Dunedin Botanic Garden, a wonderful attraction and asset to the city.

The Dunedin Botanic Garden is actually the oldest botanic garden in New Zealand having been founded in 1863. Covering 30 hectares, the garden has over 6,000 plant species which also attract a wide range of NZ native birds like wood pigeons and tui.

One of the most popular collections is the Rose Garden which is filled with beautiful aromas when in full bloom making it an especially nice spot to visit.

The Duck Pond with jetty is also a crowd-pleaser and a popular hit with the kids looking to feed them.

10. World’s steepest street

The famous Jaffa Race down the world's steepest street in Dunedin

The famous Jaffa Race down the world’s steepest street in Dunedin

According to the Guinness World Book of Records, Baldwin Street in Dunedin is the world’s steepest residential street and is one of those things that needs to be seen to be believed. The street, situated in the suburb of North East Valley, is 350m in length and has an average slope of 19°. One glance at the photos and you’ll appreciate how steep that actually is.

Baldwin Street is a great location for events and regularly hosts things like the Gutbuster Challenge (a running race, up and down) and the annual Jaffa race which sees 30,000 Cadbury Jaffas rolled down the hill in aid of charity. These events bring hundreds of people in from all around the region and are fun things to participate in if your trip dates suit.

You don’t want to be that person that goes to Dunedin and doesn’t visit Baldwin Street, so make sure that you do!

Conclusion

So, that completes our Dunedin Top Ten! We hope you’ve enjoyed the list and have checked a few of them off as must-dos for your next visit.

We also hope you’ll come to stay at our Wains Hotel Dunedin, a beautifully restored heritage hotel in the heart of the city![:zh]Dunedin is not always the first place visitors to New Zealand think about when planning their trip but those who pass on by without a visit are missing out. Big time. Dunedin is absolutely jam-packed with amazing things to do from the stunning wildlife, to the fantastic museums to the food and drink to the world’s steepest street. There is so much going on in Dunedin that those who do venture down to the deep south can sometimes be overwhelmed with options of things to do. That’s why we enlisted the help of our staff at the Wains Hotel in the heart of Dunedin to give us their top suggestions for things to do in Dunedin.

Here is our list of the top 10 things to do on a visit to Dunedin:

1.      Olveston Historic Home

This one came up time and time again when we asked our team for their tips. Olveston was built for a Dunedin businessman, collector and philanthropist and was designed by renowned English architect Sir Ernest George. It was originally built as a family home and furnished with fine art, furniture and artefacts. In 1967, Olveston opened as a historic house museum and has been attracting visitors ever since. There are six hour long tours every day and we definitely recommend giving it a visit. Find our more: http://www.olveston.co.nz/

2.      Tunnel Beach

Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

Dunedin is not short on amazing beaches but Tunnel Beach is something a bit different. Situated 7.5kms southwest of the city and just south of another popular beach, St Clair, Tunnel Beach is a spectacular beach surrounded by sandstone cliffs that have been carved out by the sea, forming a natural ‘tunnel’. There are plenty of arches and caves to explore and the rock pooling is great fun for the whole family.

3.      Speights Brewery

A list of things to do in Dunedin would not be complete without a visit to the iconic Speights Brewery. Speights is one of New Zealand’s most popular beers but especially so down in the South Island where Speights Brew pubs can be found in most cities. At the brewery, you can take the tour and find out more about the brewing process for their range of beers before completing the tour with a sampling session. Winner. Find our more: http://www.speights.co.nz/

4.      Toitu Otago Settlers Museum

The spectacular Toitu Otago Settler Museum

The spectacular Toitu Otago Settler Museum, Dunedin

Dunedin is rich in museums and the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum is one of the most popular. The museum has a collection of over 100,000 objects and they highlight the character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport of the Otago region from before the time European settlers arrived to the present. This is a great way to find out more about the region and discover the rich history of the Otago region. Find out more: http://www.toituosm.com/

5.      Larnach Castle

Not only is Larnach Castle one of Dunedin’s most popular visitor attractions, it’s one of New Zealand’s most popular too. Lovingly restored by the Barker Family, Larnach Castle is at the heart of Dunedin’s tourist trail and is a great place to spend a few hours. Whether it’s a tour of the castle or a wander around the award-winning gardens there is something for everyone to explore. The Ballroom Café is always a popular spot to grab a coffee and cake or even afternoon tea so make a day out of it on your next visit. Find out more:  http://www.larnachcastle.co.nz/

6.      Cadbury World Tour

If you are a chocolate lover then this is a must on your Dunedin list. Cadbury is one of the most loved chocolate brands around the world and a chance to tour the factory is one not to be passed up. You can take the full Cadbury World Experience – a 60 minute tour that takes you through the history of the Cadbury factory as well as showing you how chocolate bars are made. There’s also a shorter Centre Ticket which is a self guided tour where you will learn more about the history of chocolate as well as being able to check out some of their old-school TV adverts. Find out more: http://cadbury.co.nz/cadbury-world/cadbury-world-dunedin-tours/

7.      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

The railway station in Dunedin is a truly magnificent building. During the city’s most prosperous years, the railway station was the country’s busiest, handling up to 100 trains each and every day. Construction began in 1903 and the station was officially opened in 1906. Dunedin’s railway station was designed in the fashionable, desirable and highly expensive Edwardian Baroque style. Architect George Troup paid a lot of attention to detail not just on the outside but also in the foyer and booking hall which both feature elaborate ornamentation. Definitely worth a visit – if you are down there on a Saturday morning there is a great farmers market in Anzac Square right out the front of the station.

8.      Taieri Gorge Railway

Flat Stream Viaduct on the Taieri Gorge Railway Line, Dunedin

Flat Stream Viaduct on the Taieri Gorge Railway Line, Dunedin

Sticking with the railway theme if you are a big fan of scenic railways, this is one of the best in New Zealand. The Taieri Gorge Railway departs from Dunedin Railway Station and travels through the southern parts of the city before taking the Taieri branch at Wingatui Junction. From here it climbs into the Taieri Gorge, travelling through ten tunnels and over countless bridges and viaducts. You will marvel not only at the stunning scenery but the amazing engineering that allows the railway to blend in with the natural environment. The trip is a four hour round trip and is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. Find out more: http://www.dunedinrailways.co.nz/

9.      Dunedin Botanic Gardens

Sunset in botanic garden, Dunedin

Sunset in botanic garden, Dunedin

Dunedin is spoilt when it comes to beautiful gardens. We’ve already mentioned the gardens at Larnach Castle, however the Botanic Gardens are perhaps the jewel in the crown. Dunedin’s Botanic Garden was the first in New Zealand and holds the status of six star Garden of International Significance. The garden features a wide range of horticultural and botanical collections including roses, herbaceous and perennial borders, a rock garden, New Zealand native plants and four hectares of Rhododendron Dell. You can easily get lost in the gardens for a few hours and it’s a great place to come and unwind. Find out more: http://www.dunedinbotanicgarden.co.nz/

10. World’s steepest street

The famous Jaffa Race down the world's steepest street in Dunedin

The famous Jaffa Race down the world’s steepest street in Dunedin

According to the Guinness World Book of Records, Baldwin Street in Dunedin is the world’s steepest residential street and is definitely worth a visit. The best time to head to Baldwin Street is in July for the annual Jaffa race which sees 30,000 Cadbury Jaffas rolled down the hill in aid of charity. This event brings out hundreds of people to witness the Jaffas crossing the finish line at the bottom and is a sight to behold.

So, that completes on Dunedin Top Ten. We’d love to know what you think so drop us a line on our Facebook page or in the comments and happy travelling.

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