The city of Dunedin is one of New Zealand’s most unique and best known harbors. The reason for this is the fascinating mix of Scottish and Maori heritage the place boasts, as well as the fact that it has one of the largest student populations (proportionally to its size) in the country. However, the metropolitan area of Dunedin alone is not nearly as impressive as some of the landmarks that surround it. This allows a visitor stationed in Dunedin to compose a comprehensive tour on which they can see and do so many amazing things in a single day. So, if you ever decide to spend one day in Dunedin and its surroundings, here are the top five places that you really shouldn’t miss out on.
A cultural tour of Dunedin
One of the first steps on this path should definitely be a visit to several locations of major cultural significance for the area. Here, two places take precedence. First, you have the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery, which is home to bone art and ethnographic artifacts of all sorts. Amongst some of the most notable exhibits, you have the skull of the “unicow” (a malformed cow with a single horn growing out of its head), a wood from an English haunted house and even some nkisi sculptures from Congo.
Another place that you definitely will want to visit is Gallery De Novo, which is one of the most unique and interesting places in the whole of New Zealand. One of the biggest mysteries surrounding this place is how it managed to become so iconic to the local culture in these brief 14 years since its establishment. There are new exhibitions here often, and for any serious art enthusiast visiting Dunedin Gallery De Novo is a must-visit.
Otago farmers market
One more incredible experience you shouldn’t miss out on is visiting the Otago Farmers market. Needless to say, with over 60 vendors, this is probably the busiest farmers market in the province and a place beaming with life. When it comes to finding a way to experience local cuisine, there’s probably no method that’s more organic and more spontaneous than taking a stroll between these stalls and picking out something that you find interesting.
The market itself opens at about 7 am and it’s located right next to Dunedin’s railway station. Keep in mind that if you plan to prepare your own meals while in the city, this is the place to get all the necessary ingredients. In fact, 90 percent of the local food that you eat while in Dunedin comes from this very market. Seeing how some of these vendors specialize in preparing local delicacies on site, you might get a chance to try out smoked eggs, Turkish rolls, bacon butties and whitebait fritters for breakfast. The biggest problem with making this visit fit your one-day tour lies in the fact that you should definitely go visit the market on Saturdays.
For those who are primarily interested in observing wildlife, the Royal Peninsula is a place like no other. Why? Well, because it’s a simple short excursion from Dunedin, which is offered by a number of organizations like Back to Nature Tours. Amongst the most amazing species that you can visit here are the amazing yellow-eyed penguins, which are almost endemic to the region. These penguins are quite unique due to the fact that they’re almost exclusively benthic and that their diet consists almost exclusively of fish. Other than this, they’re the fifth biggest penguin type and the biggest type outside of Antarctic.
Another great place that definitely deserves a spot on this list is the Royal Albatross Centre. This nature preserve in Harrington Point is an Otago Peninsula location, where you can admire these incredible birds which some call monarchs of the sea.
The very fact that this amazing bird has a wingspan that’s 3 meters wide will ensure that this is a visit that you’ll never forget. The observation point, as a place of vital significance to tourists from all over the world (especially ornithologists), is well-organized and well-maintained. In other words, you just have it all.
For all those who are interested in paying a visit to one of this area’s most interesting landmarks, a visit to Larnach Castle definitely shouldn’t be missed out on. The castle itself is built in the Gothic Revival style and was completed by 1874. The place, although one of the most impressive mock castles in the entire region, is not the only thing worth seeing in the area. You see, the surroundings itself were awarded the rank of “Garden of International Significance”. Due to the fact that there are only five such gardens in the entirety of New Zealand, it’s something that you have to see for yourself.
From the tourist standpoint, the place gets visited by approximately 120,000 guests every single year. Now, one thing that could make the place ideally fit your one-day Dunedin itinerary is the fact that the place is open to the public every day of the year. You also have the option to choose between guided and self-guided tours, which should allow you to fully adjust the visit to your schedule. Other than this, those who aren’t too worried about the budget of their tour might even want to get accommodation here. This would also allow them to explore the castle’s amazing dining opportunities.
Watching the sunset at Doctors Point
There’s probably no better way to end your day than to pay a visit to Doctors Point and enjoy a quiet and satisfying sunset there. The place is open all year round, which means that it’s accessible regardless of the date of your tour. The biggest problem here lies in the fact that there are no organized trips to the place, which is why you need to travel there by a private vehicle. This is just one of the reasons why so many people decide to rent a car for this voyage. The car park at Doctors Point reserve is well organized and well guarded, which makes this idea even safer.
A walk along the beach with naturally occurring arches and rock cliffs is nothing short of amazing. The only problem lies in the fact that these arches are not passable during the high tide. This means that if your tour there is ill-timed, you might be unable to experience all that this place has to offer. Due to the fact that this is a one-day in Dunedin itinerary, the risk of this occurrence should be taken into consideration. The place itself is notable for the abundance of cockles, which means that you can get a unique souvenir to remember this visit by.
Where to stay in Dunedin?
The hospitality industry in Dunedin is also quite impressive, which is why you have so many great cafes and restaurants to check out. Not to mention the fact that this also makes your job of finding a suitable lodging so much easier. For instance, you could opt for a hostel like Manor House Backpackers or a high-end hotel like Dunedin Leisure Lounge.
Either way, you get a plethora of choices to meet your needs. Just keep in mind that the location of the accommodation might have an impact on your plans. So, do some research on the topic before you book a room.
Extra tips for visiting Dunedin
One thing you need to bear in mind is the fact that you will get to experience the most of this journey if you get into the right mindset and start truly feeling the spirit of the place. Fortunately, this is not a difficult thing to do in Dunedin, seeing as how the food is amazing and the urban environment is enriched by some of the most outstanding street art in existence. Now, add to this the fact that Dunedin has one of the best weekend markets in the country and you get a truly unique and wholesome experience.
While it is true that Dunedin has a lot more to offer than what’s on this list, this itinerary was made to show that even if you had a single day to explore this region, there is so much you can do and see here. Dunedin is truly an outstanding location and a place filled with such a variety of options and potential adventures. Therefore, you need to take some time to explore it, regardless of how time- or budget-bound you currently are.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
I am Arlette Green, a blogger who's into traveling and moving to the farthest places to explore the world and myself at the same time. I usually start blogging after I return from my self-planned tours to share my experiences and insights gained throughout the trip.