Many New Zealand’s popular touristic spots have some specific things or attractions, why people are coming there. But when it comes to Dunedin and Otago Peninsula, this place has all for everyone. Whether you prefer, surfing or sunbathing on a beautiful golden beach, cultural heritage and walking down the city with the touch of history, wildlife encountering, and nature’s gifts, you will find all of this right in Dunedin.
Many travelers, especially those ones who visit NZ for a shorter time, often head to visit usual places with the typical routes often managed by travel agencies.
For the travelers who are looking for places little less busy, but adequately worthy to see and experience, we have prepared the description of one of the best ‘restrained’ places in South Island which will certainly touch your soul.
By the ‘restrained’ I don’t mean that tourists don’t come there of course, but rather just the way, that you will avoid masses of visitors which just have been unloaded from buses at Milford Sound.
Read our “Quick And Useful Guide To Dunedin – All You Need To Know” to learn why Dunedin can not miss on your bucket list when traveling in South Island.
Dunedin & Otago Peninsula
Dunedin is truly interesting and nice city and has an important position is New Zealand’s culture and heritage. Of course, many tourists are heading there mostly because of special Victorian and eclectic architecture. Thanks to the Scottish immigrants, which settled there in the past, the city used to be called the second Edinburgh.
But Dunedin’s history points to the much older era due to archeological evidence – Maoris inhabited it before North Island and prior first Europeans arrived.
Visitors now admire impressive buildings like Dunedin’s Railway Station and the neo-gothic First Church. Even though, that these buildings have been built in the early 20th (Railway station) and 19th (First Church) centuries, Dunedin is considered to be one of the most historical places of this young country and city belongs to the national heritage site. In fact, Dunedin used to be very important city during colonization and its influence to a country has been more significant than Christchurch’s or other cities and towns of South Island.
Dunedin’s strong cultural links to its Scottish ancestors continue till present, and when you walk down by the city center, you can see some shops selling traditional Scottish kilts and souvenirs. Occasionally, even new generations don’t forget their roots, and you can see men walking in traditional kilts on the streets during some public events and holidays.
What to see from heritage spots when visiting Dunedin city:
- Dunedin Railway Station
- First Church of Otago
- St Paul’s Cathedral
- Toitu Otago Settlers Museum
- Larnach Castle and Garden
Dunedin is nowadays called student city. Thanks to the Otago University – the oldest and allegedly the most beautiful University of New Zealand. It is home to many students and student’s soul is present here in every aspect of life.
What is our tip for visiting in Dunedin? After visiting all historical buildings, and walking across the interesting city center – called
After visiting all historical buildings, and walking across the interesting city center – called Octagon, once you have enough of the city smell and rush, you might like to calm your mind a bit and visit lovely Chinese Garden. It looks very authentic and you can try their traditional garments to make memorable pictures.
You can also escape to the beautiful Dunedin Botanic Garden, which is again, the oldest botanic garden in New Zealand. Furthermore, it was recognized as a Garden of International Signficance for its excellence as a public garden as well as for its botanical collections.
If the weather is favorable, you should definitely take a chance to visit one of many Dunedin’s beautiful golden beaches. And there’s many of them!
It is not surprising why Dunedin is among places considered to be a mecca of surfers´ paradise, local beaches are ideal for swimming and surfing. Dunedin’s beaches belong among the best and most beautiful beaches of all New Zealand, they are pristine, wild and you can watch a lot of wildlife there.
However, if you are afraid of waves, or just want to have a good swim in a pool, you may wish to try St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool and you will be thrilled.
It is not just ordinary pool. It is outdoor saltwater pool built right at the end of St.Clair Beach with spectacular views of the ocean and entire beach as well.
A wonderful experience, but don’t expect that the water is actually hot. The hot means they heat it to 28 degrees to be more pleasant for swimming in comparison with the cold ocean. For me, it was cold anyway, because the strong wind was blowing all the time.
During our lounging on the St. Kilda Beach, we have been so lucky to be witnesses of a young seal, which came courageously to greet us. All people on the beach suddenly stood around that cute seal and started to take pictures. Young seal looked that it’s enjoying that much attention and gladly posed like a model for pictures.
Some Dunedin’s beaches were quite busy during nice weather, but some of them farther from the city were completely lonely. We could enjoy just each other at Sandfly Bay (Otago Peninsula), and finally, could take off that swimsuit and enjoy sunbathing and swimming the best way possible – naked. 🙂
Except for beautiful beaches and succulent bays, Otago Peninsula offers unique marine wildlife experience.
It is home to Royal Albatross, endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin and Blue Penguin.
Along the coast is also very often seen rare Sea Lion which is a huge kind of seal.
Except for marine wildlife you can spot here many shoreline and waterbirds.
Penguins can be observed at Penguin Beach, Pipikaretu Beach and already mentioned Sandfly Bay.
Precious Albatrosses can be observed at the very end of Otago’s Peninsula at Taiaroa Head.
In fact, this place is the only place where is possible to see world’s only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross.
Otago Peninsula is hiding truly interesting surprise which is Larnach Castle. It is the only castle in all Australasia and offers luxury accommodation and exceptional gardens which may be visited even if you’re not accommodated in the castle.
Honestly, I wouldn’t really call it ‘castle’, it is sort of typical Victorian mansion and could never compete to the real medieval and spectacular castles in Europe.
However, it can present ultimate luxury experience and a good idea for weddings, honeymoon or any other special occasion, where you will feel like you have moved back in time to the Victorian era. It’s worth at least to visit its alluring 14-hectare garden with spectacular views of entire city and harbor.
Whatever you look for, whether for a beautiful beach for lazy sunbathing, big waves and great weather for surfing, wonderful marine wildlife encountering, historic buildings and student’s vibrant city, or just enjoying spectacular nature and views, Dunedin and Otago Peninsula has it all.
In fact, me and my hubby agreed that if we would have to choose to live in some city in South Island, it would probably be Dunedin, maybe also in competition with Nelson.
Anyway, if you like this post and are inspired now to visit this place, we wish you wonderful holiday and enjoyable time.
And if you wish, you can get back to us afterward, and share with us your stories and pictures!
Can’t wait for your response.
All pictures taken by my husband Radoslav Cajkovic unless stated otherwise and are subject to copyright.
© Independent Couple