Dunedin is a quirky fun-loving city on the South Island of New Zealand. Stop in Dunedin before and after heading out on the Otago Peninsula to soak up the views and spot wildlife.
Signal Hill Lookout
A good place to start in Dunedin is at Signal Hill Lookout. In addition to hiking up the hill, the lookout is accessible via a vehicular roadway. You’ll find good views of the city at the top so it’s a nice way to get the lay of the land before heading out to explore.
A famous and popular tourist attraction is Baldwin Street. This is the world’s steepest street. Definitely take the time to walk up the street and check out the houses (look at the photos to see why they’re so cool to view!). Do me a favor, don’t be one of the jerks that drives up and down the hill at top speed. So dangerous!
Dunedin Railway Station
The Dunedin railway station (and nearby cathedral) are commonly photographed landmarks in this picturesque city.
TIP: On Saturdays, you’ll find a farmers market located here!
Dunedin Botanic Gardens
Although we did not visit the botanical gardens, the gardens are well-reviewed. Let us know what you think!
The Tunnel Beach Track is about 10 minutes south from downtown Dunedin. The walk down to Tunnel Beach is a steep paved path and includes a section of stairs contained within a tunnel. The walk alone is an experience. But, continue on, and you’ll find the beach where you can watch the tide washing in and out of the various rock cut-outs. Allow for a minimum of an hour.
TIP: Check tide tables and consider visiting at sunset!
Museums & Art
I love any well thought-out and informative museum as well as edgy modern art. Throw in a good street art scene and I’m thrilled. Dunedin definitely had the best street art of any city we visited in New Zealand.
BONUS: All the museums listed herein have free admission.
After having visited Te Papa, we were a bit skeptical of whether the Otago Museum could live up to the hype. However, it does! The quality of the exhibits in New Zealand museums continues to astound us. We particularly enjoyed the exhibits on Maori history, Pasifika cultures, and nature.
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum
We did not visit the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum but understand that it focuses on the story of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding region. On our next visit we look forward to visiting!
Dunedin Public Art Gallery
The Dunedin Public Art Gallery hosts a small permanent collection as well as a rotation more edgy collection of works. Check out the current exhibition schedule online to ensure you’re interested in the works.
Street Art Trail
I’m a sucker for good, fun street art. So walking the street art trail of Dunedin was my favorite activity in the city. Added bonus: SO MANY good anti-Trump pieces of art. As Americans, we’re horribly embarrassed for the United States. Here’s a link to the Dunedin Street Art map we used as our guide.
Eating & Drinking
Being a diverse university city, Dunedin has a plethora of options ranging from cafes to bars; even a farmers market on Saturdays at the railway station. If you’re a beer geek, some brewery options include:
The Speight’s Ale House
Speight’s Brewery is over 145 years old and offers paid tours. We opted to simply enjoy a beer sampler.
Emerson’s Brewery also offers paid tours. They have good food and are located very close to the stadium so they are extremely busy before cricket matches. Plan ahead!
Noisy Brewing Company
Noisy Brewing Company is a craft beer company located just outside of downtown Dunedin. They have more limited hours of operation and offer takeaway beer only.
ARC BREWING CO, Evansdale
The ambience at ARC BREWING CO in Evansdale (20 minutes north of Dunedin) is hip and laid back. Opening hours are Friday through Sunday only with on-site food trucks sometimes.
Dunedin Day Trip (Hidden Gems!)
The obvious day trip (please do stay longer than a day!) from Dunedin is to head out on the Otago Peninsula. However, there are other fantastic day trips as well. Many folks head to Orokonui Ecosanctuary but we opted to instead complete two hikes in the same area: Mount Cargill Track and Heyward Point Track.
Organ Pipes Track, Mount Cargill Scenic Reserve
2 km return // 2 hr return
There are a number of tracks located in Mount Cargill Scenic Reserve. We’d highly recommend the Organ Pipes Track. The ‘organ pipes’ are hexagonal basalt formations that are so unique and beautiful.
TIP: A small carpark is located on Mt Cargill Road near the Organ Pipes Track trailhead.
If you’re up for a longer tramp, continue past the organ pipes to the summit of Mt. Cargill. Or complete the entire Mt Cargill walking track.
Heyward Point Track, Heyward Point
5 km return // 2 hr return
The Heyward Point Track travels through forest and farmland to stunning coastal views: Otago coast to the north and Taiaroa Head to the south.
Camping in and near Dunedin
We suggest using the information and bountiful reviews in the CamperMate app to find campsites suitable for your situation and inline with your expectations. These are the places at which we stayed in and near Dunedin:
Market Reserve, Dunedin
This is an overnight street parking area in which it is acceptable to park. Convenient? Yes. Picturesque? No.
TIP: There are other acceptable overnight parking areas downtown. These include on-street options as well as off-street options such as the Thomas Burns Street Carpark/Campervan Parking. Be sure to follow current regulations.
Ocean View Recreation Reserve, Dunedin
Only 15 minutes south of downtown Dunedin, this freedom camping area is beach-side.
Warrington Recreation Reserve, Warrington
About half an hour north of downtown Dunedin, this reserve has a freedom camping area and is near the beach. Numerous walking trails traverse the reserve as well.
New Zealand Planning and Resources
If you’re planning for your vacation or holiday in New Zealand, more resources – including our trip map with points of interest and camping spots – can be found in our New Zealand planning and resources post.
Our travelogue and the details of our day-to-day activities can be found in our New Zealand itinerary and travelogue post.
travel dates: February 6 – 8, 2020 & August 16 – 18, 2020
last updated: 23-Aug-2021