Dunedin is the capital of the Otago region, this University City is steeped in history.
Dunedin lies on the southeastern cost of New Zealand’s South Island. It is built around the Otago Harbour and encircled by hills. It was first settled by Europeans in 1848, its Scottish founders giving their new home the old Gaelic name for Edinburgh. Today its Scottish heritage is evident in the country’s only whisky distillery and its annual festival Scottish Week.
The gold rush of the 1860s in Central Otago made Dunedin the wealthiest city in New Zealand by the turn of the nineteenth century. The numerous well preserved Victorian and Edwardian buildings are a product of this era.
Today, Dunedin is primarily a University City, with the students of Otago University making up 16% of its population. Dunedin centres on the Octagon, a popular gathering place and a focal point of the city. Many of its finest buildings are found in this area, as are numerous cafes and wine bars. Several of the city’s other attractions are easily accessible on foot from here, such as Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Otago Early Settlers Museum and the architecturally spectacular Dunedin Railway Station.
To the north of the city are the extensive Botanic Gardens and the nearby Signal Hill offers excellent views over the city to the Otago Peninsula. A short distance from the city is New Zealand’s only castle, Lanarch Castle, built in the 1870s and 1880s for a local politician.
Further afield, the Otago Peninsula offers a variety of attractions including a royal albatross colony, historic buildings and spectacular scenery. The Moeraki Boulders, north of the city and the spectacular Caitlins National Park to the south are both excellent excursions from the city.