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Dunedin

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Dunedin

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Dunedin [1], old Gaelic for Edinburgh, is the second-largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, located in the Otago region.

Understand

Dunedin is known as the Edinburgh of the South and is proud of its Scots heritage. It has as its heart a statue of the poet Robbie Burns, and many of its streets carry the same name as streets in Edinburgh. It was built in a time before the car was king, when ships and railways moved people around. It is built in a natural harbour on a relatively small area of flat land. It is surrounded by steep hillsides. Some of its streets are steep: Baldwin Street is claimed as being the steepest street in the world, a claim which is celebrated during the annual chocolate festival by rolling 15,000+ jaffas down it. It does get cold: many of the streets are iced over in winter, and every two or three years, the city gets a snowfall.

Dunedin's University of Otago, established in 1871, is the oldest university in New Zealand. It is the South Island's second largest employer, and by far the biggest contributor to the Dunedin economy. Dunedin is a University Town rather than just a town with a university. The students make up over a tenth of the population. A consequence of this is that the city is significantly quieter during the university summer holiday period (approx November to February).

Dunedinites (the Dunedin people) are generally friendly, seemingly more friendly than in the bigger cities of NZ (and the bigger cities anywhere else in the world).

Other Destinations

Get in

By plane

  • Dunedin International Airport, DUD, [2]. A domestic and international airport.

Dunedin airport is 30 kilometres out of town on the nearest piece of flat land that was big enough. Taxis and shuttle buses operate from just outside the terminal and are usually there when flights arrive. The fare for a shared shuttle is around $NZD 15 and for NZD$45-50 for a taxi to Dunedin. All of the major rental car operators also serve the airport.

By train

The railway station is close to the centre of town. Unfortunately there is no longer a regular long distance passenger train service, but some people arrive in the city by the local scenic trains. These are operated by the Taieri Gorge Railway, which run out as far as Middlemarch. A connecting bus service to Queenstown can be arranged.

By car

State Highway 1 passes through Dunedin. Allow 4 to 5 hours travel from Christchurch and 2 to 3 hours travel from Invercargill. Be sure to get a good detailed map as soon as you can. Most hostels have very detailed maps for the downtown area with reasonable details for the outlying areas. The roads can be very confusing with lots of one way streets and circles.

By bus

There are several daily services from Christchurch, Invercargill, Wanaka and Queenstown. The major operators are Intercity, Atomic Shuttles, Wanaka-Connection and Knightrider (which offers an overnight service from Christchurch to Invercargill via Dunedin). The trip from (or to) Christchurch takes about 6.5 hours.

Get around

By bus

The Dunedin Bus Service is fairly average but cheap and does get you around. The main line service, St Clair-Normanby, runs every 15 Minutes and is handy to about a dozen of the City's attractions. Most other routes are every 30-40 minutes. Some of the buses are not too attractive looking, but they are being added to by cast-off wheelchair friendly buses from other cities. The blue/gold coloured buses operated by Citibus [[5]] and the beige/dark red buses operated by Passenger Transport share all the town routes. Most drivers from either company will tell you where to find the right bus if you ask nicely, or you can ask the Otago Regional Council [[6]] or call 0508-474-082 free from a cell phone, but only during office hours. The Peninsula bus route from the Museum is a good way to see the Peninsula, unless you're terrified by oncoming traffic: in places the full sized buses are wider than the lanes they travel in. The traffic is generally used to this and travels very cautiously. All Buses on the Peninsula service are Wheel Chair Friendly.

By bike

There is a recycling centre down by the north-east end of the docks (in Wickliffe Street) which generally has one or two reasonable-condition bicycles lying about for NZ$10 apiece. Carefully add air (there's a service station due west back over the bridge) and oil and you're set to go. You will also need a skid-lid/stack-hat/helmet, which are generally unavailable second-hand for liability reasons, but can be had new for NZD$20 from the KMart in Meridian, between George Street and Filleul Street. There is another recycling shop called "The Recover Store" at the Dunedin Landfill on Brighton Road, Green Island.

Dunedin's hills are extremely steep but the town centre is reasonably flat There is an excellent flat ride out along the western shore of the Otago Peninsula to Harington Point, although it's a narrow road shared by lots of tour buses. A cycle track runs along of the industrial eastern shore of the harbour, about half way to Port Chalmers (busy highway the rest of the way).

If you like a bit of a hill-climb, ride out along North Road to the Organ Pipes, a collection of rapidly-cooled rocks which have self-formed into organ-pipe-like structures. The walk along a bush track up to the Pipes themselves is very scenic and well attended by small, harmless wildlife. The ride up along the ridge of the Peninsula to Lanarch Castle is also good high-energy exercise.

If you like pushing a bike up a hill because it's too steep, dive off NorthRoad onto Norwood Street, or cross to the east side of the Peninsula, or head straight up the hill behind TheOctagon past the Beverly-Begg Observatory to suburbs with a view like Roslyn.

By train

There are no suburban trains. The Taeri Gorge Railway [7] tel +64-3-477-4449 is a scenic tourist trip, ending at a small village called Middlemarch. Take your camera and lots of memory. The same company runs trips on the old Christchurch line as far as Palmerston, about 2 hours away. These go about twice a week in the summer.

See

  • Cadbury World, 280 Cumberland St,, 03, fax 03, [email protected], [8]. Daily tours running every half hour from 9am-4pm, with hours extended to 7pm during the summer. Closed Christmas Day and the morning of Anzac Day. Take a guided tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, a factory that accounts for more that 75% of New Zealand's chocolate production.
Robert Burns' statue in the Octagon.
  • Speights Brewery, 200 Rattray St, 03 (Tours) or 03 (Office), fax 03, [email protected], [9]. Shop hours: M-Th 9:30am-7pm, F-Su 9:30am-5pm. Tours daily at 10am, 12 noon, 2pm. Close Christmas day, Good Friday, Easter Saturday/Sunday, and shortened hours on ANZAC day. Children under fifteen require adult supervision. The brewery has been a Dunedin landmark since its founding in 1876. The guided tour takes you through the Speight's brewery, sharing the hertiage and culture of beer, from the Babylonians to today. The tour's finale is a 25 minute beer tasting. You must be 18 years old to join in on the tasting.
  • Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart St, corner of Stuart St and Moray Pl, Box office 03, Administration 03, fax 03, [10]. Housed in a converted stone church, the Fortune Theatre provides professional live performances to the citizens of Otago.
  • Hoyts 6 Octagon Cinemas, 33 The Octagon, 03. Catch a feature film in the Octagon.
  • The Octagon. The city centre - it is shaped like an Octagon instead of the standard square. This part of town is very active and lots of businesses strive to be near it.
  • Robert Burns statue. The over 100 year old statue of poet Robbie Burns sits in The Octagon and was recently restored. The statue was cast by a notable sculptor of Edinburgh, Scotland. This same sculptor made four other, nearly identical, statues, one of which rests in Central Park, New York.
  • The Organ Pipes small columnar rock format set in a hillside with splendid views. Pleasant hike up a steep bush track from a carpark about 5km out of town along North Road.
  • The architecture
  • Otago University [11] has some great old buildings to wander about and see, when Uni's in its a good place to sit, people watch and take it all in, some good food/cafes/bars are nearby too.
  • The Royal Albatross colony, at Taiaroa Head, [12] is the only mainland albatross nesting site in the world. It is an hour's drive along the western coast of Otago Peninsula on a road that skirts the water for most of its length without any guardrail. In places, the city buses which frequent the road are wider than the lanes (the local traffic is used to this, and drives very carefully), so if you don't trust your driving reflexes, take a coach instead. Albatrosses may be seen during the summer months, as well as other wildlife at all times of the year. Guided tours of the colony and the old fortifications on and under the headland are conducted daily.
  • Otago Museum
  • Carisbrook - The House of Pain! Where great rugby and cricket games are won and lost.
  • The university (Otago University) - some beautiful old stone buildings, with one or two impressive newer buildings and the Water of Leith running through.
  • Tunnel beach - The story goes that crazy old Cargill had a steep tunnel cut through the stone cliff, so his daughter could go to the beach. Some stories say she later drowned, but it's a lovely beach all the same, and the tunnel is very spooky. You need to walk over farmland to get there, so access is banned during lambing. See the visitor's centre in the Octagon for further information.
  • Otago Peninsula - much scenic coastline including rugged points and headlands, wildfowl-laden mud flats and beautiful Allans Beach (plus several smaller beaches) on the south/east coast, and picturesque hamlets on the north/west coast (including a pretty and peaceful cemetery on a little spit of land called Dunoon, many boat-houses and a miniscule beach). Seals, sea-lions and other interesting fauna turn up at all of the southern/eastern beaches.
  • Otakou marae - a Maori church and meeting-house, which gave the Otago Peninsula its name. Find it on a side-road near Harington Point, at the outer (nother/east) end of the Peninsula.
  • Larnach Castle [13]. Billed as "the only castle" in New Zealand, it's very pretty but technically only a manor house and there is another (ruined, but being restored) building in the same predicament called Cargill's Castle in the southern suburbs of Dunedin. Lanarch Castle has a rich and interesting history.

Do

  • Baldwin Street. Located in Dunedin's North East Valley suburb. According to the Guinness Book of Records it is the steepest street in the world. Take the ten minute walk to the top or drive up to enjoy the view looking down! There is a drinking fountain at the top. Some people have tried, and a few have succeeded, cycling all the way up Baldwin Street - try it if you're a keen cyclist.
    • Baldwin Street Gutbuster. Take part in a run up and back on the world's steepest street during the city's summer festival.
  • Swim or surf the beaches. Much more fun if you wear a wetsuit. If it's a bit cold, there's a heated saltwater pool adjacent to the main beach a little north of the esplanade.

Tramping; Dunedin has some of the most easily-accessible tracks of any city in NZ. In less than half an hour you can be in pristine bush far from the worries of the world. Ask about Green Hut Track, Carey's Creek, Possum Hut, Rosella Ridge, Yellow Ridge, Rocky Ridge, Rongamai, Honeycomb, Powder Creek, Long Ridge, Swampy Ridge, Leith Saddle, Burns, Rustlers, Nichols Creek, Nichols Falls, to name just some of the fabulous tramping tracks around this city. Ask at the Visitor Centre or get "The Ultimate Tramping Guide for around Dunedin" at DoC ($10) and cut loose.

Have a few beers with the local students; alcohol is very reasonably around $6 for a jug of ale.

Learn

  • Attend the University of Otago [14] or the Otago Polytechnic [15]. The students in Dunedin are referred to as scarfies and provide most of the volume at Carisbrook - the city's main sports ground. It helps to have the image of a Southern man and drink copious amounts of Speights - the local brew.

Work

Buy

  • Tapui Childrens Books, 449 Princess St, 03 479 2940, fax 03 471 8036, [email protected], [16]. M-Fr 9am-5:30pm, Sa 10am - 1pm. Founded in 1973, Tapui started focusing on children's books almost 20 years ago. The store is only 5 minutes walk from the Octagon and they also operate a travelling bookshop that visits area schools.

Eat

For the desperate, McDonalds is at 232 George Street, where an internet cafe is attached.

George Street is just littered with all kinds of restaurants, starting about two blocks north of The Octagon (in the centre of Dunedin). There are also a few interesting places on Albany Street, which runs across the south of the University Of Otago.

They're used to students and other tightwads, too. The wiki for the LCA2006 Linux conference hosts some photos of them, which will eventually be pushed into a local (Dunedin) wiki.

Dunedin has some amazing food! If you are in Dunedin on a Friday definitely check out the Friday bakery in Roslyn village (you'd have to be early though all the good desserts go very fast!!) then there is a cafe and wine shop called Rhubarb across the road, both are amazing. The Good Oil down George Street (the main street) offers great coffee and herbal teas and some very classy food too.

If you're looking for brunch type foods on Saturday the farmers market at the Railway Station has delicious crepes and baking as well as fresh fruit and veges. And if your a fan of herbal teas the Tea Shop is above the Octagon on 110 Moray Place has a wide range of high quality and amazing tea!! (http://www.thetshop.co.nz/) It's upstairs so its a little hard to spot but definitely worth the effort!

Budget

Being NZ, if you want Fish and Chips, you go to a Chinese restaurant for them. Don't know why, but it works. The prices are pretty good, although the fish servings are typically only about 1/2 to 2/3 of the size of the Australian counterpart.

One interesting local speciality is kumara chips, made with a local sweet-potato variant and typically priced at about double the cost of potato chips. Very tasty!

The kiwis are also good at making icecream, and many places (including little delis and general stores at places like MacAndrew Bay) sell cones for fairly reasonable prices (e.g. NZD$1.90 for a double cone).

  • Satay Noodle House, Hanover Street (Opposite the Hannah's Meridian entrance) has good Cambodian and Thai food at cheap prices ~$7, Be warned they don't have EFTPOS but there's a ATM across the road.
  • Circadian Rhythm Vegan Cafe, 72 St. Andrew St (03 474 9994), offers a great daily buffet for just $8.50. And they are gluten and dairy free as well.

For the freshest local organic produce, including fruit, vegetables, eggs, bread, cheese, etc it's a good idea to check out the Farmer's Market. It's on Saturday mornings, 8AM til around 12:30PM next to the railway station.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

  • Bath St just before the Octagon off George St. Great small, dark and somewhat random place to enjoy sounds. Has a mix of music from banging drum n bass nights to reggae chill. Sometimes its the only place hidden away thats going off!

Sleep

Budget

Manor HOuse Backpackers28 Manor Place, 0800 4770484, (www.manorhousebackpackers.co.nz) Set in 2 colonial homes and surrounded with beautiful gardens there is nowhere more pleasant to stay in Dunedin. 10min walk to the octagon. Prices from $22

  • Arden Central Bed and Breakfast, 36 Arden Street, 03 473 8860, [17]. Offers B&B, homestay and ensuite. 20 minute walk to the Octagon. NZ$45-NZ$130.
  • Chalet Backpackers, 296 High Street, 03 479 2075, 0800 242 538. 10 minute walk to the Octagon. No bunks are to found in this backpackers - and only a maximum of 5 people in the largest room!
  • Dunedin Central Backpackers, 243 Moray Place, 03 477 9985, [18]. 1 minute from the Octagon in the heart of the city.
  • Elm Lodge, 74 Elm Row, 03 474 1872, 0800 356 563, [19]. Friendly backpackers/hostel located 5 minutes walk from the city's center the Octagon. Limited parking is found on the street.
  • Hogwartz Backpacker Hostel, 277 Rattray Street, 03 474 1487. 5 minute walk from the Octagon. Maximum 4 share room, no bunks.
  • Leviathan Heritage Hotel and Downtown Dunedin Backpackers, 27 Queens Gardens, 03 477 3160, 0800 773 773, [20]. 2 minute walk to the Octagon. Practically next door to a 24x7 Countdown supermarket and the railway station.
  • Next Stop Backpackers, 2 View Street, 03 477 0447 (fax 477-0430) [21], low $20s for a dorm, pretty, clean and quiet, very close to TheOctagon and central facilities. The street is nearly perpendicular, so not a good spot for wheelchairs.
  • On Top Backpackers, Filleul Street near TheOctagon and Moray Street, 03 477 6121 (fax 477 6141), [22], low $20s for a dorm bed, small dorms, good clean facilities, good staff, good attitude, right next to TheOctagon and two blocks from a 24x7 Countdown supermarket. Built over a pool hall and bar; literally one minute from most facilities including cinema, library, information centre, banks, food etc. 24x7 swipe-card access.


  • Penny's Backpackers, 6 Stafford St, freephone 0800 pennys (or 03 477 6027), fax: 03 477 6037, [23]. Close to The Octagon and Dunedin Nightlife, FREE Internet and Wireless, FREE Dvd's, Huge TV, New Sports Bar and New Lounge Bar, FREE local phone, FREE pickups, FREE on street parking, female only dorm. Dorms from $18. Renovated historical Dunedin hotel. www.pennys.co.nz

Mid-range

  • Abbey Lodge Hotel and Motel, 900 Cumberland St, 0800 505 380, [24]. This Spanish style Hotel/Motel has its own restaurant and indoor pool. Borders the botanical gardens and 2 minute walk to University of Otago. NZ$120-NZ$150.
  • Cargills Hotel,678 George Street, 0800 737378,[25]. A 50 room property surrounding a beautiful courtyard garden, award winning restaurant and lounge bar. Close to University, Hospital and CBD.
  • 10 Trinity Court Motel, 10 Carroll St, 0800 444 909, 03 477 2767, fax 03 477 2724, [email protected], [26]. This Budget Motel Chain member offers private parking and all of the rooms are non-smoking with private facilities. NZ$60-NZ$105.
  • City Sanctuary Bed and Breakfast, 165 Maitland Street, 03 4745002, [27]. A lovely restored villa in an oasis of gardens, yet only minutes from the city's attractions. En suite. Spa bath. NZ$100-NZ$175.
  • Hilltop on High Street, 433 High Street, 03 477 1053, [28]. Come here for a little pampering. Offers backpackers, homestay, ensuite and B&B. NZ$70-NZ$90.
  • Leviathan Heritage Hotel and Downtown Dunedin Backpackers, 27 Queens Gardens, 03 477 3160, 0800 773 773, [29]. 2 minute walk to the Octagon.
  • Magnolia House Non-Smoking Bed and Breakfast, 18 Grendon, Maori Hill. 20 min walk to Octagon. Beautiful old Victorian villa set in lovely gardens. NZ$120 dbl. NZ$100 sngl.

Splurge

  • Abbey Lodge Hotel and Motel, 900 Cumberland St, 0800 505 380, [30]. This Spanish style Hotel/Motel has its own restaurant and indoor pool. Borders the botanical gardens and 2 minute walk to University of Otago. NZ$120-NZ$150.
  • Boutique Bed and Breakfast, 107 Jefferis Road, 2 R. D Waikouaiti, 03 465 7239, [31]. Historic Bed and breakfast with remodelled suites set in the peaceful countryside 30 mins North of Dunedin. NZ$150.
  • 27 Pitt, 27 Pitt St, 03 477 5133, fax 03 477 5132, [email protected] A quiet bed and breakfast NZ$220-NZ$250.
  • Elgin House, 31 Elgin Rd, 0800 272 940, 03 453 0004, fax 03 453 0004, [email protected], [32]. NZ$195-NZ$250. Luxury bed and breakfast built in the late 1800s that is located 3km from town in the nearby suburb of Mornington.
  • Fletcher Lodge, 276 High St, 0800 843563, 03 477 5552, fax 03 474 5551, [33]. Bed and breakfast with beautiful suites. NZ$175-NZ$550.
  • Hyland House, 1003 George St, 0800 HYLAND, 03 473 1122, fax 03 473 6066,[34]. Suite rooms with private bathrooms. NZ$140 - NZ$300.
  • One Royal Terrace Bed & Breakfast, 1 Royal Terrace, 03 479 0772, fax 03 479 0775, [35]. NZ$180-NZ$495.
  • Peacocks, 304 York Place, 0800 327 333, 03 474 1300, 0276 200 345, [36]. Luxury bed and breakfast with ensuite rooms. NZ$200-NZ$350.
  • Station Masters Cottage, 300 York Place, 0800 327 333, 03 474 1300, 0276 200 345, [37]. 3 rooms in a historic cottage. NZ$220-NZ$390.

Contact

Stay safe

The Police Station is in Great King Street, next to Countdown and Real Groovy.

Cope

  • Albany Street Centre, 28 Albany St, 03 479 2169. M-Th 9AM-5PM. Professional counselling services.
  • Octagon Amcal Pharmacy, 2 George St, at the corner of the Octagon and George St, 0800 ASK AMCAL, 03 477 1289, fax 03 477 1289, [38]. M-Th 8:30AM-5:30PM, F 8:30AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-4PM, Su 10AM-2PM. Closed Christmas day, New Years Day, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Get out

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!