Dunedin, New Zealand, is the principal city in the Otago region and the second-largest city in the country. While not as large or well-populated as other cities in the Otago region, Dunedin is considered one of New Zealand’s main tourist destinations because of its cultural significance and historic beauty.
However, Dunedin didn’t start out as the charming and cozy little town it is today. From the 1860s to roughly 1900, it was the largest populated city in all of New Zealand. Today, there are more than 120,000 residents who call Dunedin home. Located on the central eastern coast of the Otago region, the city’s most important economic resource is connected to higher education. New Zealand’s first university, the University of Otago, was established in Dunedin in 1869.
Small with a multitude of hills, the city was founded by immigrants who hail from Scotland. That legacy and heritage can still be felt today. Nearly all of the local street names come from names of streets in Edinburgh, Scotland. There are also Gothic stone buildings with an impressive display of Scottish Edwardian and Victorian architectural styles. Dunedin’s town center is the perfect place to admire this design work as it is conveniently dense and easily trekked on foot with many exquisite examples of 19th-century architecture to behold.
\Gently tucked in the inner corner of Otago Harbour, Dunedin’s spectacular views are second to none. Rugged beaches and raw clifftop landscapes make this city an absolute must-see for any traveler. Here are a few of the top winter tourism destinations in Dunedin. Whether you fancy art, nature or historic architecture, Dunedin has an interesting and varied possible itinerary of things to do, see, savor and enjoy in winter.
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Getting to Dunedin
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Dunedin is home to New Zealand’s only castle. Built in the 19th century by William Larnach, Larnach Castle was the pinnacle of his life’s work. The wealthy banker carved out his fortune during the Otago region’s gold rush. Italian marble, Venetian glass and Welsh slate were all specially shipped in to create this breathtaking monument. The castle’s facade resembles the Scottish castles of Larnach’s roots. After Larnach’s death in 1898, the castle fell into disrepair. Over the years it served as an asylum, a soldier’s barracks and a convent. In 1967, the Barker family purchased the castle and fully restored it to its former beauty and splendor. Visitors can explore the castle and gardens as well as enjoy a high tea in the old ballroom.
Located on Great King Street in Dunedin, the Otago Museum is in a beautifully preserved historic building constructed in 1876. Otago Museum preserves and protects New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage. The life of the South Island’s Maori people is the central focus of the Tangata Whenua galleries. This collection features the art and treasured objects of the Maori. One of the many highlights of the museum for children and families is the Discovery World exhibition. This exhibit immerses people in a butterfly-filled rainforest. Children can freely explore and get a closer look at hundreds of different butterfly species. Otago Museum also features many galleries devoted exclusively to nature, geology as well as the Pacific peoples.
Dunedin Art Gallery
Touted as one of New Zealand’s premiere art galleries, the Dunedin Public Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection of artwork by local artists as well as paintings from the colonial era to the present. Specific pieces include an impressive number of Japanese prints, New Zealand’s only Monet as well as paintings by Machiavelli and Turner. Decorative arts, including the display of several glass pieces, textiles and ceramics, provide visitors with a variety of pieces to admire. Artist Frances Mary Hodgkins, a Dunedin native, best known for her contribution to the Neo-romantic art movement in England, is featured prominently in the museum with a large collection of her paintings for you to enjoy.