This weekend we were lucky enough to see Ed Sheeran perform in Dunedin, so in true ‘TripleEspresso2Go’ style, we made a road trip of it. This was partly due to the fact that the airlines had hiked their prices to ridiculous levels as soon as the concert dates were released…..not cool….and partly because we wanted any excuse to hang out with our friends from Christchurch. So we flew from Wellington to Christchurch and then drove to Dunedin over the long weekend break. After all, what’s a 720km/ 10-hour roadtrip, when it is CHILD-FREE?!
We had heard that there was a huge Scottish influence in founding of the city of Dunedin and it has been on our list of NZ places to visit it for ages. Beautiful old buildings, unlike anywhere else in New Zealand, seem to be on every corner. Apparently Dunedin was originally going to be named ‘New Edinburgh’ and the name Dunedin actually comes from the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh (Dùn Èideann).
Things to do on a Dunedin daytrip:
- Visit New Zealand’s only castle
Larnach Castle, situated on the Otago peninsula, is New Zealand’s only castle and dates back to 1871. The castle rooms, gardens and views from the tower are stunning. We had loads of fun exploring here on our whistle-stop tour of the city and could have spent so much longer if time allowed for it.
- Drive the Otago Peninsula
The picturesque drive along the coves and bays of the Otago Peninsula was so lovely and reminded us a bit of ‘home’ (Wellington’s Miramar peninsula drive). We stopped off at Glenfalloch Gardens for coffee on our way to Larnach Castle before heading back but if we’d had more time would have loved to have gone on to the Albatross Centre further round the coast to see the albatross, seals and penguins. The bays and the views of Dunedin from the peninsula were stunning!
- Climb the steepest street in the world
Baldwin Street is the world’s steepest residential street. According to the plaque at the top, the street is 350m long and apparently for every 2.86m travelled horizontally, the elevation rises by 1m, with a gradient of 19 degrees in places. That’s a lot of detail which is easily translated as: super steep! It’s quite the tourist attraction and there is even a little shop there where you can purchase a certificate to say you’ve climbed the world’s steepest street. There is also an annual Cadbury Jaffa rolling race down the hill!
- Visit Signal Hill Lookout
Said to be one of the best views of Dunedin, Signal Hill Lookout offers panoramic views of the city and the Otago peninsula. It’s a long, winding road up to the viewpoint but well worth it. The Dunedin centennial memorial is up there too, which is said to serve as a reminder to future generation of the work and achievements of the pioneers.
- The University Campus and Botanic Gardens
We enjoyed strolling around the University grounds, soaking up the sunshine and wandering past the old buildings. Later on we drove down Castle Street (former home of the NZ band Six60) and stumbled across the Botanic Gardens.
- The Octagon
The 8-sided, mainly pedestrian area of Dunedin’s city centre, known as the Octagon was overrun with Ed Sherran fans when we visited! The bustling cafe culture and al fresco dining areas seemed to have photos of him everywhere and there was even a mural painted in the centre of the Octagon with the slogan: ‘Paint the town Ed’. The ‘walking bus’ for the concert departed from the main bar area to the Forsyth Barr Stadium Arena later in the day. It was a great spot to stop for drinks and dinner and people watch.
- Dunedin’s Street Art
We loved exploring the Street Art around Christchurch and Dunedin. There were some really interesting sculptures in both of these cities too, including a set of 6 molars on Dunedin’s city coastline. This sculpture is said to represent the 3 essential elements that helped to define Dunedin: i) The Harbour mouth, home of the Albatross colony, ii) Dunedin’s dental school, the oldest in NZ, and iii) The limestone which represents the geological history of the region. A very artistic impression!
- Toitu Otago Museum
We spent ages looking around the Otago Settlers Museum and found it so interesting. Well worth a visit for either style of museum visitor: whether you’re like me and like to glance at things and walk on, or whether you like to read each plaque in detail, this is a really insightful place to visit. We think we may have found some of our friends’ ancestors in the portrait database!
- Chinese Gardens
This beautifully tranquil Chinese garden with walkways around a big pond is an ideal place to relax in the city. It celebrates the special relationship between Dunedin and Shanghai. Interesting fact: The whole centre was built entirely with no nails.
- St Clair’s Beach
We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along St Clair’s beach and sand dunes. But wrap up warm- there is nothing between this beach and the Antarctic and the early morning wind was absolutely freezing!
- Ed Sheeran!
As Ed’s concert at the Forsyth Barr Stadium was the main reason to get us to this beautiful city, we couldn’t possible omit posting some pics and videos of the concert during which we screamed like groupies, sang our hearts out and left with no voices. A great night and trip all round! I feel like we just scratched the surface of this beautiful city and will definitely be back for more.
Have you been to Dunedin? What did we miss that you would recommend? Post your comments below or email us. We’d love to hear from you!