Located at the head of Otago Harbor, Dunedin is a city on the southeast coast of South Island in New Zealand. The city is known for its Scottish and Maori heritage, Victorian and Edwardian architecture and a large student population. There are hiking and cycling trails to explore on the adjoining Otago Peninsula, where you can see colonies of albatrosses, sea lions and rare yellow-eyed penguins.
In the early 1900s when Dunedin was the commercial center of New Zealand, an impressive railway station was opened in 1906. The Dunedin Railway Station has ornate Flemish Renaissance-style architecture with white Oamaru limestone facings on black basalt rock. It is large and grandiose and it earned architect George Troup the nickname of Gingerbread George. There is intricate ornamentation on the ceilings. The booking hall has a mosaic floor of about 750,000 tiles of Royal Doulton porcelain. The main platform is one kilometer and counts as the country’s longest. Every October it becomes the world’s longest catwalk, for South Island’s main fashion show. Today the only train is an excellent tourist excursion service. Most of the ground floor is a restaurant, the upper floor is home to an art gallery and a sports hall of fame. Visitors can explore the interior and stroll through the well-kept grounds.
English architect Sir Ernest George designed the Olveston Historic Home. This 35-room mansion was built between 1904-06 in the style of an English country house. It has modern features like a lift, an electric generator for lighting and full central heating. The house is furnished with artworks, antiques, furnishings and artifacts from all over the world. The house and all of the original possessions were gifted to the City of Dunedin by the last member of the Theomin family in 1966.
The only castle in New Zealand is the Larnach Castle, built in 1871 by William Larnach, Merchant Banker and Politician. Features of the castle include master craftsmanship, New Zealand antiques and the style of Victorian living. At the castle visitors can learn about the lives of the Larnach family and see the beautifully restored castle. It has been cared for by the Barker family since 1967. Take a walk through the lovely gardens.
A fantastic experience is the Otago Museum. Here you can even experience a lush, living Tropical Forest with live butterflies and other tropical creatures in their natural paradise. You can also learn about the rich history of southern New Zealand through outstanding collections that cover culture, nature and science. This is one of Dunedin’s most visited attractions.
Take the time to discover the Cadbury World Experience. You’ll learn about the history of Cadbury and chocolate, traveling through time in the Visitor Center. In the Cadbury World Sensory Lab you’ll discover and sample the different elements of the chocolate making process. The tour concludes with the Cadbury World chocolate fall.
Visit the Dunedin Botanic Garden where you can see more than 6,800 plant species and hear the songs of native birds like the Bellbird, Tui and wood pigeon. In all the garden stretches for 28 hectares. This is the oldest garden in the country. Native birds can be seen in the aviary. You can relax in the cafe and there is a winter garden glasshouse for a tropical retreat. To feed the friendly local ducks you can get food at the information center.
Visitors enjoy exploring the Otago Peninsula and the Royal Albatross Colony at Taiaroa Head. You can see a huge Northern Royal Albatross with a three meter wingspan. View giant fluffy chicks. A guided tour will inform you of the lives of there wonderful birds in their natural reserve. There are educational displays, a great cafe and gift shop.
A museum of social history is the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum which is dedicated to telling the story of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding area. You’ll learn about the first arrivals, Kai Tahu Maori, the growth of the city and how Dunedin is today. The museum has collections of costume and textiles, military, transport and computers on display. The museum buildings are a mixture of heritage and modern, ranging from the early 1900s to 2012. There is a Victorian brick and limestone portrait gallery and a 1930s art deco bus station. On display are also the Roslyn #1 tram – the first electric tram in the Southern Hemisphere and the Tiger Tea trolley bus.
When you visit the Tunnel Beach you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Victorian novel. In the 1870s John Cargill, a son of Captain William Cargill, excavated a tunnel down to a secluded beach so that the Cargill families could bathe in privacy. The beach has massive sandstone boulders and mysterious graffiti carved into the cliffs. It is known as the most romantic spot in Dunedin.
One of the largest and most comprehensive art collections in the country can be found at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Here you’ll find New Zealand artworks from 1860 to the present, impressive collections of historical European art, Japanese prints and decorative arts. Design, fashion and the moving image are also explored in detail.
For most impressive views head for the lookout point of Signal Hill, at 393 meters high. It overlooks the head of Otago Harbor and provides birds-eye views of the city. The top of the hill can be accessed on foot or you can take a 15 minute drive.
On top of the hill you’ll find a monument with two large bronze statues that were erected to commemorate New Zealand’s 100 year anniversary. It also incorporates a stone imported from Edinburg, Scotland which is Dunedin’s sister city. The monument is surrounded by a large scenic reserve with plantations of forestry. It is lovely to visit at night when the lights of the city are twinkling.
A Romanesque portal leads into the Gothic interior of the lovely Anglican St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the interior you’ll see impressive white Oarnary-stone pillars rising up into the vaulted ceiling. The main part of the church dates from 1919 but the sanctuary wasn’t finished till 1971. The massive organ has 3500 pipes and is thought to be one of the finest in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Dunedin Chinese Garden was built to recognize the contribution of the Chinese people to Dunedin. This walled garden was prefabricated in Shanghai, then dismantled and reassembled in the city. This is a classical Chinese garden with ponds, pavilions, rockeries, stone bridges and a tea house. Here you can also find a small display on the history of the local Chinese community.
Take a walk up Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest residential street (as per the Guinness Book of World Records). It has a gradient of 1 in 2.86.
Knox Church is Dunedin’s second Presbyterian church dating from 1876. It quickly became an emblem of the city and was built in the Gothic Revival style out of bluestone edged in white Oarnaru stone. The church’s most impressing feature is the soaring 50m steeple. Inside is a lovely wooden ceiling and it has such great acoustics that the church is used for concerts and other events.