Things to do in Dunedin – laid back or action-packed – it’s up to you

Stunning blue seas near Dunedin

Dunedin is a really cool place to visit and one that is often overlooked by Kiwis and international visitors alike. Those who miss it off their itinerary do so at their own peril! Whether you are looking for a nice relaxing weekend away, or you want to get out and explore the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand, Dunedin and the surrounding Otago Peninsula has it all. From stunning walks and beaches to fantastic museums to beautiful architecture, Dunedin is steeped in history and surrounded by some of New Zealand most beautiful landscapes. Why would you miss it off your list?

Top 3 laid back activities in Dunedin

Let’s start with some more laid back activities.

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum

Dunedin has a rich cultural history and nowhere is this celebrated more than at the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, the number one activity in Dunedin according to Trip Advisor. With over 100,000 objects in their collection that highlight the character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport of the Otago region, this museum is a true look back through the years from the time before European settlers up to the present day. There is plenty for the whole family to see and interact with making it a great family day out.

Larnach Castle

Stunning aerial shot of Larnach Castle in Dunedin

Larnach Castle is situated on the picturesque Otago Peninsula and lays claim to the title of New Zealand’s only castle as well as being one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The castle was lovingly restored by the Barker family and along with the grounds, the castle now sits at the heart of the Dunedin visitor experience. Whether you want a tour of the castle itself or you just want to wander through the beautiful gardens, the location and setting of the castle make this a magical experience.

Olveston Historic Home

Another one of Dunedin’s amazing buildings, Olveston Historic Home was built for Dunedin businessman, collector and philanthropist David Theomin in the early 1900s. It was planned as a family home for generations to enjoy, however when both of Theomin’s children dies with no heirs and his wife Dorothy passed away in 1966, it was discovered that the house had been left to the City of Dunedin. The house now serves as a time capsule with very few changes having been made to the house since it was a family home from 1906 to 1966. This is a truly authentic historic home and a chance to get a real insight into the life of a wealthy merchant family in the early to mid 1900s.

Other laid back activities:

  • Otago Museum
  • Dunedin Railway Station
  • Speights Brewery
  • Dunedin Botanic Gardens
  • Dunedin Chinese Gardens

Top 3 outdoor activities in Dunedin

When you think of adventure and outdoors activities in New Zealand, many people will think of bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving and other adrenaline fuelled activities. Dunedin’s not that sort of place. The outdoor activities here are also pretty relaxing but there is plenty for those who love the outdoors to get involved with. Here are our top 3:

Tunnel Beach

Tunnel Beach, Dunedin
Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

If you are looking for a great beach to take the family, Tunnel Beach in Dunedin is a great trip out. As well as a beautiful sandy beach, there’s also the adventure of getting there! Tunnel Beach is accessed by taking the short (1km) Tunnel Beach Track which will take you through an excavated tunnel that kids will absolutely love to a secluded beach and a spectacular rocky coastline. It’s a favourite of our staff down at the Wains Hotel in Dunedin and is a great day out for the whole family.

Exploring the Otago Peninsula

Once described as one of New Zealand’s hottest attractions by the Lonely Planet, the Otago Peninsula is just waiting to be discovered. If you love walking and wildlife, then this is the place for you. Even just taking a drive on Portobello Road will bring you to some truly beautiful spots. A big attraction out on the Peninsula is the Royal Albatross Centre where you will get the opportunity to see the albatross soaring with their wing span of up to 3m. You can also spot dolphins and penguins out on the water and there are a number of tour operators who can take you out on the water to get up close to all this amazing wildlife.

Taieri Gorge Railway

Flat Stream Viaduct on the Taieri Gorge Railway Line, Dunedin
Flat Stream Viaduct on the Taieri Gorge Railway Line, Dunedin

The Taieri Gorge Railway is part of Dunedin’s spectacular railway scene. There are few places in New Zealand where you can catch a train; outside of Auckland’s commuter system, Dunedin has the most extensive rail network which puts a focus more on the scenic journey rather than the commute. The Taieri Gorge is perhaps the most spectacular of these journeys, taking you through the hinterland of the Otago Peninsula from its starting point in the beautiful Dunedin Railway Station. The stunning viaducts and bridges that span the gorge make this an exhilarating journey and one that last long in the memories of visitors to Dunedin.

Other outdoor activities:

  • St Clair Beach
  • Baldwin Street
  • Signal Hill
  • Forsyth Barr Stadium

So there you have it – lots of ideas for things to do on your next visit to Dunedin. If you are staying with us at the Wains Hotel, be sure to ask any of our staff members for their top tips – they are always happy to help.

 

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