Activities in Dunedin
No matter who you are, what your budget is and what your tastes are, there’s sure to be an experience to inspire you in Dunedin. The city in the South Island is a hub for history, nature and foodie experiences. From free museums to luxurious castle visits, Dunedin has it all. Explore your options in The Complete Guide to Dunedin, or check out the highlights in this list of top things to do in Dunedin!
1. See Amazing Wildlife on the Otago Peninsula
Let’s start with an activity that appeals to most: discovering the unique wildlife of the Otago Peninsula. This peninsula extending from Dunedin city not only offers spectacular scenery but is the habitat of New Zealand sea lions, fur seals, royal albatross, little blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins and wading birds. There are various tour operators taking visitors from Dunedin to the peninsula, showcasing the wildlife that inhabits the shores, each in their own unique way. Check out tours with Elm Wildlife Tours, Iconic Tours, Back to Nature Tours and Tourworks NZ for more information.
2. Check Out the Otago Museum
Rain or shine, a must-visit attraction in Dunedin is the Otago Museum. The free-entry museum showcases an impressive array of art, culture and natural history exhibitions. One of the best ways to get acquainted with the museum is on the Treasures of the Otago Museum Guided Tour, which gives you the opportunity to dive deeper into the 1.5 million relics on display with your museum guide. See more activities like this in our 11 Things to Do in Dunedin on a Rainy Day.
3. See Picture-perfect Arches at Tunnel Beach
Natural sandstone cliffs, arches and pillars dominate this coastal area on the outskirts of Dunedin. Tunnel Beach is just off Blackhead Road in the south of the city where you can drive or catch a local bus to Corstorphine on route 32, 33, 34, 35 or 36. From the corner of Middleton Road and Stenhope Crescent, it takes approximately 30 minutes to walk to the start of the track. See more free attractions like this in our 17 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Dunedin.
4. Explore the Dunedin Botanic Garden
Get some fresh air, some exercise and plenty of things to see at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. This free attraction within the city encompasses a few activities including walking up to an extinct volcano, checking out the birds in the aviary, finding all of the hidden sculptures and statues, seeing exotic plants in the glasshouse, and simply stretching your legs on the walking trails. What’s more, it’s the perfect place to take little ones if you’re travelling with kids. See more like this in 10 Things to Do in Dunedin with Kids.
5. Get Out on the Water and Look Out for Wildlife
While the Otago Peninsula takes all of the limelight, it’s worth getting out on the water in the element of some of Dunedin’s amazing wildlife. Monarch Wildlife Tours offers half-day cruises in the Otago Harbour where it’s possible to spot albatross at sea, giant sea lions, New Zealand fur seals, dolphins, penguins and much more! Alternatively, if you’re feeling active, go on a kayaking trip with Wild Earth Adventures to explore the coast and its inhabitants.
6. Check Out the Otago Farmers’ Market
In Dunedin on a Saturday morning? Be sure to head down to the Otago Farmers’ Market at the Dunedin Railway Station where you can browse around 65 stalls of local produce, home-baked treats and artisan goodies. The event usually includes buskers, as well as coffee and breakfast stalls for a vibrant village-like ambience. See more activities like this in the 8 Things to Do in Dunedin for Foodies.
7. Walk Up the World’s Steepest Street
Definitely one of Dunedin’s more ridiculous attractions, Baldwin Street holds the world record for being the steepest residential street. Climbing up to the top provides some hilarious photo opportunities, while not taking too much time away from your itinerary.
8. Explore the Grounds and Gardens of Larnach Castle
Perched atop a hill on the Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle is New Zealand’s only castle with a history dating back to 1871. Entry to the castle and grounds allow you to explore the beautifully-manicured gardens and the castle’s Victorian-style tower, ballroom cafe, stables and outbuildings. High tea is also available to book at the Ballroom Cafe. See more experiences like this in the 10 Luxury Activities in Dunedin.
9. Tour, Taste and Dine at the Speight’s Brewery
Tour the oldest operational brewery in New Zealand at the Speight’s Brewery. Discover how one of New Zealand’s most popular beer brands makes its beers on the Brewery Tour & Ale House Lunch. The tour ends with learning how to pour the perfect pint at The Tasting Room, then with a two-course meal at their on-site ale house with a glass of your choice of newly-discovered beer.
10. Go on a Scenic Railway Journey from the Dunedin Railway Station
[Update: the Taieri Gorge Railway is no longer operating]
The Dunedin Railway Station is an attraction in itself thanks to its grand architecture. Amplify the experience by taking one of the scenic train journeys that depart here. The Taieri Gorge Railway meanders through the dramatic river gorge scenery, crossing numerous viaducts and delving through countless tunnels. Be transported in beautifully-restored carriages, which include an on-board cafe and open-air platforms to capture some amazing photos. We also consider this activity one of the 8 Romantic Activities in Dunedin for Couples.