Tourist attractions in Dunedin New Zealand
New Zealand's little piece of Scottish heritage lies in the South Island. Dunedin (named after the Gaelic name for Edinburgh: "Dun Edin") was founded by Presbyterian Scottish immigrants, and that legacy can still be proudly felt today. Small and extremely hilly - the city lays claim to the steepest residential street in the world - Dunedin is tucked into the inner corner of Otago Harbour's wild and windswept coastline with rugged beaches, raw clifftop landscapes, and even the world's only mainland colony of royal albatross, right on the city's doorstep. The town center itself is compact and easily navigated on foot with many fine examples of late 19th-century architecture still well preserved.
1 Larnach Castle
Dunedin's top tourist attraction is Larnach Castle, New Zealand's only castle. It was built in the late 19th-century by wealthy banker William Larnach who made his fortune during Otago's gold rush years. No expense was spared in its construction with Italian marble, Welsh slate, and Venetian glass shipped in to create a sumptuous house with a façade similar to the Scottish castles of Larnarch's roots. Despite Larnach's wealth and career success, he led a tragic life with both his wife and favorite daughter dying young. In 1898, while serving as a politician in Wellington, he committed suicide. After his death, the castle fell into decline, serving as an asylum, soldiers' barracks, and nunnery until it was purchased by the Barker family in 1967 who undertook a mammoth restoration project to restore the castle to its former grandeur. Today, this fascinating building full of period furniture and its gorgeous sprawling gardens are open to the public to explore. Don't miss the views from the castle tower or high-tea in the old ballroom.
2 Otago Museum
Housed in a handsome heritage building dating from 1876, Otago Museum is full of information on New Zealand's natural and cultural heritage. The Tangata Whenua galleries focus on the life of the South Island's Maori people with a strong collection of art and treasured objects. A particular highlight of the museum for families is the butterfly-filled rainforest in the Discovery World exhibition, where children can get up close with hundreds of different butterfly species. There are also galleries devoted to geology, nature, and pacific people, and a small but well-curated People of the World exhibit room with artefacts from across the world including an Egyptian mummy.
Address: 419 Great King Street, Dunedin
3 Dunedin Botanic Garden
Established in 1863, Dunedin Botanic Garden was New Zealand's first botanic garden and is home to 6, 800 different plant species. Both native and European plants are displayed here over a vast 30-hectare hilltop with plenty of mature shady trees and great views from the lawns. The Rhododendron Dell covers four hectares in the southeast corner of the garden and contains around 3, 000 flowers. It is a magnificent sight when in full flower between August and October. The entire botanic garden makes for great strolling between the flower beds, but don't miss the Edwardian-style Winter Garden Glasshouse with its tropical and desert plants and the tranquil sunken herb garden.
Address: Moray Place, Dunedin
4 Toitu Otago Settlers Museum
This modern museum weaves the story of Otago's people, from the first Maori, to the settlers who flocked here in the 19th century during the Otago gold rush, and into the modern era. Excellent multimedia and interactive displays highlight Dunedin's emergence, settled by Scottish Presbyterians and its gold rush heyday, when it became the country's most important commercial hub. The Encounters Gallery tells the story of the first meetings between the local Maori tribes and the whalers and sealers, while the Smith Gallery holds a huge and fascinating collection of portraits of Otago pioneers.
Address: 31 Queens Garden, Dunedin
5 Taiaroa Head
At the tip of Otago Peninsula lies Taiaroa Head with its wonderful wildlife reserve and Royal Albatross Observatory. The rocky cliffs here are home to not only a large colony of royal albatross but also red-billed gulls, royal spoonbills, rare Stewart Island shag, and southern fur seals. This is the world's only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross, and tours from the visitor center allow you to marvel at these mammoth sea birds close up. Birdwatchers and nature lovers can also take a tour to nearby Pilots Beach where there is a colony of little blue penguins.
Address: Harington Point Road, Otago Peninsula; 30 kilometers from Dunedin city center
6 Dunedin Public Art Gallery
One of New Zealand's premier art galleries, Dunedin Public Art Gallery houses an extensive collection of work by local artists with paintings from the early colonial era right up to the present. It is also home to a significant collection of important international artworks including an impressive holding of Japanese prints, New Zealand's only Monet, and paintings by Machiavelli and Turner. There is also a gallery devoted to decorative arts displaying textiles, ceramics, and glass objects. Of particular note is the large collection of paintings by Dunedin-born artist Frances Hodgkins who went on to become renowned in the Neo-romantic art movement in England in the early years of the 20th century.
Address: 30 The Octagon, Dunedin
7 Dunedin Railway Station
Dunedin's beautiful Railway Station was built in Edwardian Baroque style in 1904 by George Troup who incorporated flourishes of Neo-Gothic design into the building. Though mocked for his "gingerbread" style, the architect was knighted for his work, and the station is now the city's most celebrated piece of architecture. The exterior uses both dark basalt and limestone to create a checkered appearance with ornate detailing in abundance, and the interior is magnificent, with colonnades, balustrades, and mosaic paving. The station is still in use and is the departure point for scenic rail trips to the Taieri Gorge.