If you’re after a little slice of Scottish heritage tucked away within the South Island of New Zealand, then head to the compact coastal down of Dunedin. Named after the Gaelic translation of Edinburgh, “Dun Edin” was originally settled by Presbyterian Scottish Immigrants, and this heritage can still be seen in the lovingly maintained buildings and landmarks.
Those travelling to the Scottish heart of New Zealand will be treated to rugged cliff tops, rocky beaches and some seriously steep streets – Dunedin once held the record for the world’s steepest street in the world.
If you’re looking for things to do while in Dunedin, we list some of the must-see attractions.
Stroll the rolling slopes of the Dunedin Botanic Garden
While it might be true that every city seems to boast of its botanic gardens, this particular slice of heaven truly offers up a beautifully diverse mix of natural splendour. This particular landmark was, in fact, New Zealand’s first botanic garden, originally established way back in 1863.
Lose yourself in this immense 30-hectare hilltop paradise and marvel at the 6,800 plus plant species on offer. The Rhododendron Dell alone covers four hectares and is comprised of around 3,000 flowers. Make sure to visit between August and October when the flowers are in full bloom.
Another standout feature is the Edwardian-style Winter Garden Glasshouse, filled with its sunken herb garden and a mix of desert and tropical plants.
Explore Tunnel Beach
If you don’t mind mixing up the typical peaceful beach vibes with a rugged, wind-whipped coastline, then Tunnel Beach is a must-see for hikers and adventure seekers. Just south of Dunedin, this beach is encircled by an imposing ring of rocky walls and arches – carved out from the sandstone cliffs thanks to a millennia of erosion.
Sometime during the 1870s, a tunnel was formed through the cliffs thanks to the winds and surf, granting easy access to the beach itself, and thus, earning its name. The area is also known for the odd fossil showing up from time to time, so make sure to keep an eye peeled as you explore this nature-carved landmark.
Find the best view of Dunedin
If you’re not done hiking around, trudge up to the summit of Signal Hill (393 metres above sea level). You won’t be disappointed for your efforts. This popular viewpoint affords panoramic views over Otago Harbour and the city itself. You can find the summit track via Signal Hill Road and Opoho Road.
Day trip to the Moeraki Boulders
This is quite possibly one of the most worthwhile day trips from Dunedin. Hire a car for the day and head north to Koekohe Beach to view the Moeraki Boulders. It might sound like a lot of effort to go to for a bunch of rocks, but these are no ordinary rocks. The 50 odd boulders are a stunning sight on this little stretch of beach. Smoothed into near spherical shapes thanks to the curious effects of erosion, these boulders look more like giant marbles left over from a game played amongst giants. The largest boulders are 3 metres wide and an immense 50 tonnes.
Head to Dunedin on your next New Zealand trip to explore the wonders this Scottish-inspired town has to offer.
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