Flights to Dunedin: New Zealand's most alternative city

Experience Dunedin

Dunedin does things differently. For a start, the town 'square' is actually an octagon (and that’s what it’s called). New Zealand’s only castle is the fabulous folly built by banker William Larnach in the 1880s for his bride. You’ll hear risqué tales of Larnach’s love life, hints of mystery and, yes, there’s a ghost story too. Book flights to Dunedin to admire New Zealand’s most photographed and over-the-top building, Dunedin Railway Station, and don’t be surprised if you chance on the annual nude rugby match.

Back to nature

After flights to Dunedin, lace up your tramping boots and hit the dramatic hills around the city. Try the half-day hike up Mount Cargill for the best views of the city, harbour and peninsula. British naturalist David Bellamy dubbed Dunedin “the finest example of eco-tourism in the world”. Find out why at the Royal Albatross colony at Taiaroa Head, the only mainland breeding colony for albatrosses in the southern hemisphere.

Get cultured

Launch into Maori culture at the Otago Museum’s Tangata Whenua gallery, dominated by a huge carved canoe. See dramatic works by one of New Zealand’s most famous contemporary artists, Ralph Hotere, at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Wherever you go, you’ll find reminders of the city’s Scottish roots – in the skirl of the pipes, a flash of tartan and at the annual Highland Games in November.

Party

Dunedin's a university town. Enough said? Whether it’s a pint at a pub or a cocktail bar you’re looking for on your Dunedin holiday, you’ll find it around the Octagon and in Stuart Street. For less-raucous diversions, savour the taste of Scotland at Dunedin's specialist whisky bars or sip a local chardonnay in a basement wine lounge. Check out local bands at bars supporting a thriving indie music scene and find out what they mean by the 'Dunedin Sound'.

Fast facts

Where: Dunedin is one of New Zealand's most southern cities, perched on the Otago Peninsula on the South Island’s east coast.

Population: There are 125,000 Dunedinites – about 22,000 of them students – making this New Zealand’s fifth largest city.

Key dates: Scottish settlers arrived in 1848; the Maori people have been here since about the 14th century.

Did you know? Dunedin is known as 'the Edinburgh of the south' and the name comes from Dùn Èideann – Gaelic for Edinburgh.

Dunedin Hotels

Our pick of Dunedin accommodation caters for princes and paupers alike. Try to stay on the wagon at New Zealand’s only castle, where beds perched atop antique carts are de rigueur. Or count sheep at Scenic Hotel Southern Cross after a fleecing at Dunedin Casino.

Dunedin Restaurants

From boho types slurping spicy seafood gumbo to city-slickers gorging on New Zealand lamb rump, Dunedin’s appetite for home-grown produce has never been greater. Hotfoot it to the Octagon for Pacific Rim cuisine with a Kiwi twist.

Shopping in Dunedin

Our favourite Dunedin shops are packed with furs and woolens so fresh from the sheep (or possum)'s back that they're practically still warm. Feed your inner hog with rustic loaves and local cheeses at the mouthwatering farmers markets.

Dunedin Nightlife

You don't have to wear a traffic cone on your head to enjoy this university town's eclectic nightlife. Make like a jaded Cold War spy amid the faded glamour of Dunedin's 19th-century casino then stretch the metaphor to its natural conclusion with Scotch on the rocks at Scotia Bar.

Dunedin Attractions

William Larnach's grand folly isn't the only Dunedin attraction to get excited about. The city's Serengeti-defying abundance of wildlife includes the world's only mainland albatross colony and a Victorian museum stuffed with taxidermy animals and pinned'n'mounted creepy crawlies.

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