It may be one of New Zealand's oldest cities, but it's certainly young at heart. Here we share the best eats, stays, and things to do in Dunedin..
Clinging to the south of the South Island, Dunedin has always been cooler than other New Zealand cities – culturally and climatically. It’s home to the country’s oldest university so its energy springs from the students who populate its cafés, wine bars, design stores and fashion boutiques. Surrounded by volcanic hills and enhanced by a rich history, the city is an eclectic blend of period architecture and avant-garde street art. It also wears its Scottish heritage with pride (listen out for bagpipes).
Fable Dunedin is a classic example of the city’s past meeting the future halfway: 50 high-ceilinged rooms with stylish, unfussy décor and plush beds adorned with tartan throws. It also has a fine-dining restaurant and bar, The Press Club, that pays homage to the editors and publishers who gathered here in the 1870s when it was Wains Hotel.
Eat and drink
It’s best known for its gooey cheese rolls (it’s a student town, after all) but that must-try favourite belies a sophisticated food scene exemplified by the fare at No. 7 Balmac, such as slow-braised lamb belly croquettes – just one of the small plates. If casual quirkiness is your jam, head to ADJØ, a Nordic kitchen and bar with a gallery for emerging artists.
Dunedin’s human-made attractions are reason enough to visit but pick your time and place carefully and one of nature’s most spectacular displays, the southern lights (aurora australis), may appear on the horizon. Between March and September is prime viewing season. Rug up and try your luck seeing the lightshow at Tunnel Beach, just 10 minutes from the CBD. A more reliable sight is grand Larnach Castle, built over time from 1871. The castle, New Zealand’s only such structure, offers luxury accommodation, dining (including high tea) and award-winning gardens.