An escape from the frenetic pace of Queenstown, the Scottish town of Dunedin (Dunedin is the Celtic word for Edinburgh) blends the traditional and the modern to offer attractive museums, cafés, restaurants, and bars. New Zealand’s oldest university, the University of Otago, injects a contagious energy, driving a vibrant cultural and social scene.
Get a feel for Dunedin’s history at the Octagon
in the centre, an eight-sided plaza bisected by the city's main downtown street, George St. Virtually unchanged since its initial construction in 1846, it gathers St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, the Town Hall, and the Dunedin City Art Gallery around an iconic statue of Scottish poet Robbie Burns, whose nephew Thomas helped found the city. A pedestrian area bisected by George and Princess Streets forms the Octagon’s heart, with a paved plaza in its lower half and green terraces in the upper part. Visit on Burns’s birthday (January 25) to hear poetry reading competitions.
Otago Settlers Museum
Otago Settlers Museum
on Cumberland Street is another key to the history of Dunedin. Housed in impressive Edwardian galleries and Dunedin's former New Zealand Rail Road Transport Building, it outlines how Dunedin was moulded by the lives of the indigenous Maori, the early Chinese, and following waves of migrant groups, as well as their associated art, fashion, technology, and customs. Discover how Dunedin and the Otago region developed through exhibits recreating an 1870s immigrant ship, illustrating the local Maori and immigrant Chinese, and depicting early settlers in photographs and paintings. A comprehensive redevelopment has seen the creation of 18 new exhibitions within 9 completely refurbished exhibition spaces, housing the institute’s incredible 94,100 items.
Olveston, built for Jewish importer-exporter David Theomin between 1904 and 1906, is a selection box of exotic delights from across the world and the centuries. Built in a Jacobean style, the house features an eclectic mix of artworks and furniture, representing everywhere from 17th-century Spain to 19th-century Japan. The mansion is a remarkable example of how the privileged lived in the early 20th century, with service lifts, an internal telephone, and even a retractable roof in the billiards room to release smoky air!
Baldwin Street - The Steepest Street in the World
Just beyond the University of Otago is a seemingly unremarkable street that features in the Guinness Book of Records. With a 38 percent gradient (or 19 degrees), Baldwin Street is the steepest street in the world. Dunedinites celebrate this distinction with the annual Baldwin Street Gutbuster, a run up and down the street during the city's summer festival.
Another one of Dunedin's fascinating traditions is the annual race involving Cadbury Jaffas
(balls of candy-coated chocolate confectionery which have been manufactured in Dunedin since 1931), with each “participant” in the race receiving an individual number and up to 25,000 of them hurtling down the street for the annual charity event!
Speights in Dunedin
New Zealanders are not the only people to claim that Speights
is the best beer in the world. A tour of the brewery begins with the story of the coopers who made the barrels, covers the history of beer brewing and Speights, demonstrates how beer is made, and ends with free samples in a pub. This usually encourages most of the tour participants to sojourn to The Ale House for more beer and seafood chowder.