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Things to Do in Dunedin New Zealand

New Zealand’s sixth most populated city is rich in history, culture, character, and architecture. Situated in the Otago region of the South Island, Dunedin was founded by Scottish settlers in 1848. Dunedin is derived from the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.

Beautiful day in with aerial view of Dunedin Railway Station in the background.

Photo Credit: https://www.newzealand.com/us/dunedin-coastal-otago/

Things to do in Dunedin include an amazing list of must-see tourism destinations for anyone to enjoy. From castles to wildlife, settlers’ museums, vibrant street art, public art galleries, heritage sites, shopping, beaches, natural wonders, and exceptional food, you will find it all here in Dunedin. Should you want to splurge or if you are on a tight budget, Dunedin is sure to satisfy your adventurous spirit.

To explore every amazing corner of Dunedin with ease, hire one of the affordable vehicles from our fleet. We have 3 Pegasus Rental Car locations throughout the region. Whether you’ve just arrived at the Dunedin Airport, need to get to the city or Dunedin Port Chalmers, you can easily hop in, drive off and start your adventure with Pegasus.

Wildlife Attractions

Albatross birds nesting at Taiaroa Heads.

Photo Credit: https://welltravelled.com.au/destinations/new-zealand/dunedin-city-beaks-bagpipes/

As New Zealand’s wildlife capital, Dunedin’s rugged coastal terrain and secluded beaches shelter some of the rarest endangered species in the country. The famous Taiaroa Head, located at the tip of the Otago Peninsula 30 kilometres from Pegasus Dunedin City, provides you with staggering clifftops and access to the Royal Albatross Centre, the world’s only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross.

Fur Seal Pup – Otago Peninsula Wildlife.

https://albatross.org.nz/otago-peninsula-gallery/

This wonderful wildlife reserve is also home to royal spoonbills, red-billed gulls, rare Stewart Island shag, southern fur seals and little blue penguins in their natural habitats, making the Royal Albatross Centre a must-visit attraction for wildlife lovers.

Aerial view of Larnach Castle & Beautiful Gardens in Dunedin.

Photo Credit: https://www.larnachcastle.co.nz/Plan-your-visit-to-Larnach-Castle/Prices-and-Concessions-for-Larnach-Castle

You can also easily add a visit to Larnach Castle – conveniently located 13 kilometres outside downtown Dunedin. The historic Larnach Castle was built in 1871 and is nestled in gorgeous sprawling gardens. You’ll find the castle open to the public as a side-trip to your travels.

 

Beaches and Swimming

birds eye view of St Kilda / St Clair Beach with waves rolling in.

Photo Credit: https://seethesouthisland.com/best-beaches-in-dunedin-new-zealand/

As a coastal city, Dunedin has numerous pristine beaches along its coastlines, with most just a stone’s throw from the central city. If you’re driving from our Pegasus Dunedin City branch, the closest beaches are the acclaimed Saint Clair and Saint Kilda, only 7 minutes’ drive away. From Dunedin’s first inhabitants to locals today, these beaches have been well-loved for many years.

Renowned for consistent surf breaks, the Saint Clair and Saint Kilda beaches are great for surfing, swimming or just chilling in the sun.

St Clair Hot Saltwater Pool is one of Dunedin's best hidden gems.

Photo Credit: https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/nz/dunedin/122644133/dunedin-the-place-where-you-can-travel-the-world-without-leaving-new-zealand

If the weather is colder, another option is to  travel to the southern end of  Saint Clair Beach, where you can find the Saint Clair Hot Salt Water Pool, an historic open-air heated swimming pool snuggled within rocks just metres from the ocean. This relaxing attraction opened in 1884 and is perfect for visitors looking for an opportunity to swim in salt water, apart from braving the cooler sea waters of the southern hemisphere.

A fascinating beach spot in Dunedin is Tunnel Beach. Legend has it that back in the 1870’s, John Cargill excavated a tunnel to this secluded beach to whisk his family from the crowded St. Clair beach for their very own private bathing spot.

Tunnel Beach with waves coming in.

Photo Credit: https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/nz/dunedin/117988932/tunnel-beach-new-zealands-best-hidden-beach

Best visited at low tide, this beach is accessible via a twenty-minute walk from the Tunnel Beach Road carpark, taking you past a magnificent sandstone sea arch and man-made tunnel to the beach itself, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by fossil-filled cliffs.

Cafés and Snack

people walking on St. Clair Esplanade on sunny day.

Photo Credit: https://cropcraftcreate.com/a-day-in-dunedin/

Should you find yourself peckish along the way, you will be spoilt for choice with the cafés and bars around St. Clair Esplanade and the wider Dunedin centre.

Whether you are after a perfect quiet morning coffee while you gaze out across the Southern Ocean, or a quick meal allowing you to rapidly return to scenery scoping and people watching – one thing is certain, you’ll be able to reflect on Dunedin’s idyllic seaside backdrop. Dunedin offers a great array of mobile food trucks, where you can experience delicious food and ambience that the locals “in-the-know” highly recommend.

Alternatively, you can visit the Otago Farmers Market at the Northern Carpark Dunedin Railway Station, where over 70 artisan bakers, producers and growers from the Otago region showcase their locally made goods. Coincidentally, it’s only a 5-minute drive from the Pegasus Dunedin City branch.

Great Places to Eat

Dunedin’s rich and diverse heritage includes Maori, Scottish settlers, and early Chinese colonies – and you can find their historical influences ingrained in Dunedin’s local cuisine. From restaurants to cafés, breweries, and bars to international flavours, you are sure to find something to satisfy your appetite.

Craving an indulgent, handcrafted burger made with fresh local ingredients, try ReBurger – a long-time local favourite. These seriously good burgers can only be found in Otago.

Delicious handmade burger found in Dunedin.

Photo Credit: https://www.dunedinnz.com/visit/eat-and-drink/indulgent

ReBurger is only 7 minutes’ drive from Pegasus City branch and located in the vicinity of the Otago Museum.

Handmade ice cream by Patti's & Cream in Dunedin.

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/people/Pattis-Cream/100042021051382/

Complete your meal with a delicious designer desert from Patties and Cream – Scoop Shop. These artisan hand-made ice-creams are only a 3.5 kilometre drive from the Otago Museum.

Later, if you want to burn off your meal, take a  9-minute walk up to Unity Park Lookout and enjoy the visual feast Dunedin’s gorgeous cityscape.

Unity Park Lookout overlooking Dunedin City.

Photo Credit: https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g255119-d16713567-Reviews-Unity_Park_Lookout-Dunedin_Otago_Region_South_Island.html

Looking for another ice-cream parlour just a 2-minute walk from the Otago Museum. We recommend, Rob Roy Dairy. With over 30 years’ experience, they have become legendary purveyors of ice-cream.

A plate of delicious oysters from famous Best Cafe in Dunedin.

Photo Credit: https://bestcafe.co.nz/

You can’t get more Kiwi than having some deep-fried seafood with chips from your local fish and chips shop. The Best Café is a must go for takeaways. Famous for their oysters, this cafe has been a Dunedin staple for locals since 1932, and is only a 6-minute drive from our Pegasus Dunedin City branch.

If you are looking for a lovely night out, pamper yourself and dine amidst Dunedin’s elegant seaside setting right on The Esplanade itself.

seaside sunset at St. Clair beach.

Photo Credit: https://www.titi.co.nz/

You’ll find the restaurant tītī within the stylish Hotel St. Clair. Here, you can enjoy a fine dining experience crafted by award-winning chefs, showcasing culinary creativity with seasonal local produce.

plates of delicious food from titi.

Photo Credit: https://www.titi.co.nz/

For a lively night out, head right to the heart of Dunedin city, The Octagon. Vault 21 infuses Dunedin’s historical Asian heritage with delicious culinary treats.

Vault 21, The Octagon in heart of Dunedin city.

Photo Credit: https://www.theurbanlist.com/nz/a-list/best-things-to-do-in-dunedin-at-night

You will discover a meticulously menu including an extensive range of delicious cocktails, transforming this award-winning restaurant into one of Dunedin’s top nightlife venues.

delicious food from Vault21.

Photo Credit: https://www.vault21.co.nz/

From there, you can extend your lively nightlife experience to the wide range of bars, pubs, and clubs on offer around The Octagon, where you’ll often be able to enjoy live music performances from local artists.

Another exciting option for a luxury night out is The Grand Casino, Dunedin’s premier gaming entertainment venue. Located adjacent to the Scenic Hotel Southern Cross, the casino  is a 4-minute drive from our Pegasus Dunedin City branch.

Ready to explore Dunedin?  Check out Pegasus Rental Cars for an extensive fleet that will suit your individual needs and budget. Whether you’ve arrived at Dunedin for business or pleasure, you can be sure that we are here to help you have the best travel experience possible.