The Top Places to Visit Near Dunedin
Tucked away on the southeast coast of the South Island, Dunedin gives travellers access to countless off-the-beaten-track destinations. From the quirky Victorian town of Oamaru to the natural playground of The Catlins, day trips from Dunedin are varied and memorable. Find your next road trip with this guide to self-drive day trips and day tours from Dunedin.
For more trip-planning advice, check out The Complete Guide to Dunedin.
5 Best Day Tours from Dunedin
Before we go through some of the best self-drive day tours from Dunedin, here is a quick list of day tours. These day tours from Dunedin offer a hassle-free alternative where you don’t need to have your own vehicle.
- Peninsula Wildlife Tour with Lunch with Horizon Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Private Tour: Dunedin to the Catlins with Back to Nature Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Taieri Gorge Railway and the Otago Peninsula Day Trip with Back to Nature Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Dunedin Peninsula Wildlife Encounter with Elm Wildlife Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Silverfern Train and Moeraki Boulders with Iconic Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
The Best Day Trip from Dunedin for Families
A must-do day trip from Dunedin, the Otago Peninsula harbours an array of marine wildlife and seabirds. Visit the Royal Albatross Centre or Penguin Place to visit wildlife hotspots independently or jump on one of the many wildlife tours to the peninsula to visit private wildlife habitats. Other things to do on the peninsula include visiting Larnach Castle (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and hitting the walking trails.
For more on what to do on the Otago Peninsula, check out the 10 Things to Do in Dunedin.
The Best Day Trip from Dunedin for Budget Travellers
Get out of Dunedin and travel south to the rugged coast of The Catlins, which spans between Balclutha and Fortrose. The coast offers stunning waterfall walks, lake walks, cave walks, lighthouse walks, sea lion encounters, penguin encounters… In short, a whole lot of nature!
Start planning your day trip from Dunedin using the 10 Incredible Things to Do in The Catlins.
The Best Day Trip from Dunedin for Couples
Travel time by car: 1h20mins one-way
North of Dunedin is the Victorian-inspired steampunk-obsessed penguin mecca of Oamaru. Stop by the famous Moeraki Boulders before arriving in the town, which offers plenty of attractions. Get into the Victorian spirit at Whitestone City, immerse in a steampunk universe at Steampunk HQ, and watch out for penguins along the Bush Beach Track.
Check out the 10 Incredible Things to Do in The Catlins to plan your day trip.
The Best Day Trip from Dunedin for Luxury Travellers
Travel time by car: 15 minutes one-way
For those of you who don’t want a long drive, Port Chalmers offers an easy day trip from Dunedin. This charming little town on the shores of Dunedin Harbour not only offers excellent views but is an attractive collection of buildings in itself, many from the 1800s that have transformed into cafes, collectables shops and other quirky businesses.
Check out more activities around Dunedin in the 10 Dunedin Must-Dos.
The Best Day Trip from Dunedin for Foodies
Travel time by car: 1 hour one-way
Escape to the country by day-tripping to Middlemarch at the foot of the Rock and Pillar Ranges. While many venture here to start (or finish) the Otago Central Rail Trail, the town makes a worthy day trip to experience the shist landscape of Sutton Salt Lake, delve into the Maori and gold mining history at the Middlemarch Museum, and indulge at the eateries.