Dunedin’s night life is perhaps its best known aspect and is the stuff of legend amongst Kiwi students. If you’re looking to party, hit Dunedin town during the University year but first arm yourself with a copy of local cult film Scarfies so you’ll know what you’re in for. Of course, this small southern city is not all student debauchery. Admire its Edwardian inspired architecture, scenery and alternative music scene and ensure you take some road trips out of town to such outlying destinations as Alexandra and Aramoana.
1. Baldwin St
At a maximum gradient of 19 degrees, Baldwin St in Dunedin boasts the Guinness Wold Record book’s title as the steepest street in the world. Aside from the obvious attraction of photo opportunities, athletically inclined tourists visiting Dunedin in summer may find themselves drawn to Baldwin’s lofty slope. The street is the venue for an annual February event; The Baldwin St Gutbuster, “an exercise in fitness and balance” which comprises competitors running from the street’s base to the top and back down in an attempt to beat the previous year’s record time. If physical exertion isn’t your cup of tea, try the July charity event which entails over 30,000 Jaffas (ball shaped chocolate and orange flavoured Kiwi treat) being rolled down the steep street.
2. Speights Brewery Tours
For an award winning interactive tour guided tour through an historic working brewery, make the Speights Brewery in Dunedin your first stop. Backpacking beer connoisseurs will enjoy their introduction to one of New Zealand’s foremost beers and when they sample the Speights beers on tap at the conclusion of the tour can be sure in the knowledge that they are tasting a bit of Kiwi working history. www.speights.co.nz
3. The Smallest Bar in the World
Mou Very on George St- named for the Japanese for “nothing” and French for “soft”- is absolutely tiny- but don’t let that put you off a dink and a dance. The bar’s owner claims that his premises can boast up to 15 people at a time in its intimate 1.5m by 8m space. The smallest bar in New Zealand may not hold the world title for diminutiveness, but it does have a reputation amongst locals for its refreshing ciders. 357 George St.
4. Glow-worms at Nicols Falls
Over a hundred years ago these 15m high Nicols Falls were Dunedin’s greatest attraction. Nowadays, tourists still endeavour to take the one hour scenic walk to visit the area, sitting pretty in a native fern covered gorge. Locals recommend visiting at night to catch a glimpse of the creek’s glow worms. www.wonderwalkers.co.nz
5. Cargill’s Castle
Cargill’s castle, also known as “The Cliffs” is located on Otago’s St Clair clifftops and as one of only two castles in New Zealand is one of the region’s most historically significant structures. Built in 1876, Cargill’s is a prominent attraction not only for its architecture but for its breathtaking views of the sprawling ocean landscape at the foot of the cliffs. www.cargillscastle.co.nz
6. Ross Creek Reservoir
The Ross Creek Reservoir is a beautiful man-made water feature that can be reached via bushwalking through the surrounding public reserve. A 20m fall cascades into School Creek. Other interesting features include the Woodhaugh gardens, the Balmacewen golf course and popular walking tracks.
The beautiful seaside town of Aramoana harbours a dark past, but the quiet area today is a lovely destination for visitors and is only around 20 minutes drive from the city.
8. Butterfly Exhibition at Otago Museum
The Otago Museum’s Discovery World Tropical Forest is one of Dunedin’s top attractions, featuring around 1,000 imported butterflies. The colourful exhibition is the only three level live butterfly experience in Australasia. The specially heated Tropical Forest is home to a myriad of butterflies, and an up close and personal experience with these friendly little critters is not to be missed.
9. Surfing at St Clair Beach
If you’re keen to get your surf on, head to St Clair Beach and regale your friends back home with tales of your bravery frolicking in the waves of a Southern New Zealand beach about situated about as close as you can swim to the frosty Antarctic waters.
The traditional Scottish pastime of Curling is a fun way to while away the winter frosts in central Otago. Visit curling rinks at Naseby, Alexandra and on the Maniototo Plain and partake in the icy version of lawn-bowls which has become a celebrated winter pursuit in the Otago region.
11. Otago’s Farmers Market
Locals recommend the Farmer’s Market as the home of quality local produce. The market takes place every Saturday from 8am to 12:30pm at the Historic Dunedin Railway Station.
12. The Octagon and Student Nightlife
Students nationwide will heartily recommend the Dunedin nightlife – comprising huge street parties to the Octagon’s clubbing scene, party animals will take to downtown Dunedin like fish to water.
13. Wall Street Mall
If shopping is your forte, those in the know recommend the retail delights of George St, including the new Wall St Mall at 211 George Street, Dunedin.
14. Dunedin Casino
What do you do after you’ve saved loads of cash – you head to the Dunedin Casino. Take a risk and splash out at the City of Dunedin’s answer to Vegas!
15. The Regent Theatre
Catch the best of local Kiwi talent, including drama, comedy and music at Dunedin’s historic Regent Theatre venue, 18 The Octagon.
16. Rob-Roy Dairy Ice-Cream
Where else in the world where you can get this much bang for your buck? At Rob-Roy’s, a ‘single scoop’ is actually two very large scoops for your small change! Locals warn that ice cream lovers should be wary of the queues on a double degree days as they usually stretch around the corner…
17. Signal Hill Lookout
Signal Hill scenic reserve overlooks North Dunedin and the picturesque Otago University campus and is a prime attraction for keen hikers.
18. Dinner at Luna
This restaurant is situated at the top of Roslyn Hill, and offers its diners lovely views of the city of Dunedin through floor to ceiling windows.
One of many well known haunts for Dunedin’s notorious student population, Refuel offers relaxed live jazz gigs every Wednesday.
20. Forbury Raceway
If the casino doesn’t whet your taste for a race, instead bet your hard earned cash on greyhounds. Toward summertime, Forbury’s race days make for a glam yet affordable day out in the sun.
21. The Fix
Coffee that is ‘world famous in Dunedin’ is complemented by this café’s curious invitation for customers to bring their own food -i.e. they make the drinks, while you eat your packed lunch. Thus, The Fix is a worthwhile pit stop for cash-strapped travellers.
Dunedin’s International Ice Skating Arena is a great day out for all ages and skill levels featuring rinks for ice skating, ice hockey and curling.
23. Tunnel Beach
This splendid rocky coastline is worth a visit for tourists in South Dunedin. www.doc.govt.nz
24. Otago University Campus
The Edwardian style structures that comprise Otago University’s campus are the oldest tertiary buildings in New Zealand. Walk by Leith St and the clock-tower to take in Dunedin’s historic University buildings while on a Sunday stroll.
25. Port Chalmers
Port Chalmers is the main port of the city of Dunedin and lies 15km northeast of the city centre. The beautiful hilly peninsula and harbour views are an obvious attraction for visitors to the region, but thrifty backpackers may be please to learn of another incentive to visit the area. Port Chalmers has a reputation for castaways of the garment rather than seafaring persuasion- check out local op shops for eclectic Kiwi pre-loved fashions.
26. Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Fine Arts connoisseurs will relish the opportunity to see the best of Kiwiana manifested in local art from the Otago region, proudly displayed alongside national and international collections. 30 The Octagon. www.dunedin.art.museum
27. Cadbury World
Got a sweet tooth? Cadbury World is Dunedin’s answer to Willy Wonka’s chocolate Factory, and is a chocolate lover’s paradise. Learn more about how the leading international brand manufactures its delectable treats, and decide for yourself the answer to the myth of whether Cadbury dairy milk really does taste different in various countries…
28. Moeraki Boulders
Situated just off the beaten track of the road trip to Dunedin, these curious boulders are shaped like giant marbles and their sheer scale is almost cartoonish. Maori legend explains the great spherical stones to be the remains of ancient calabashes or eel baskets. Today, they are predominantly used by tourists who happily risk being dunked in the coastal surf in their efforts to land a photogenic perch on the boulders. www.moerakiboulders.com
This high fashion store features many Dunedin designers alongside some national fashion icons.
30. Forsyth Barr Stadium
Forsyth Barr Stadium is New Zealand’s newest, largest and most versatile indoor events arena and is home to the Highlanders Super 15 team!