Best Activities in Dunedin

If you’re keen to explore the Deep South of New Zealand, Dunedin is a fantastic place to start. 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 derives its name from the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.

Beautiful day in with aerial view of Dunedin Railway Station in the background.
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We’ve put together a list of fun things to do in Dunedin, New Zealand that anyone can enjoy. Get inspiration for exploring castles, marvelling at native wildlife, learning about history in settlers’ museums, and feeling wowed by vibrant street art, public art galleries, heritage sites, historic buildings, shops, beautiful beaches, stunning bridges, natural wonders, and exceptional food.

Our Top Things to Do in Dunedin:

Start exploring every amazing corner of Dunedin and the spectacular Otago Peninsula of New Zealand with affordable vehicle hire from our handy Dunedin City or Dunedin Airport locations. Book an affordable, reliable rental car today and start your adventure in Dunedin, New Zealand, with Pegasus.

Wildlife Attractions

Albatross birds nesting at Taiaroa Heads.
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As the wildlife capital of New Zealand, 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 panoramic views of staggering clifftops and access to the Royal Albatross Centre the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross.

Fur Seal Pup – Otago Peninsula Wildlife.

This incredible wildlife reserve in Dunedin is also home to native birds such as royal spoonbills, red-billed gulls, and rare Stewart Island shag. On your visit, you can also spot southern fur seals, sea lions, Yellow-Eyed penguins and Little Blue penguins in their natural habitats. Walking around on a self-guided wildlife tour is fun, but we recommend a guided tour with a local expert. The Royal Albatross Centre is one of the best places for wildlife lovers who visit Dunedin, New Zealand.

The Castle and the Coast

Aerial view of Larnach Castle & Beautiful Gardens in Dunedin.
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You can also easily add a visit to Larnach Castle – conveniently located 13 kilometres outside downtown Dunedin. Steeped in history, Larnach Castle was built in 1871 and is nestled in gorgeous sprawling gardens. Want to try something fun and decadent? Why not enjoy High Tea while you’re visiting Larnach Castle? The castle is also full of fascinating artefacts from around the world. Visitors have access to breathtaking views from the castle of the Otago Peninsula. Larnach Castle is open to the public and is an amazing port of call on your travels.

The coastline along the Otago Peninsula is one of the very few places in New Zealand – and the world – where you can view the Southern Lights! Dunedin, New Zealand, is a great place to fill your days with fun exploration. Whether you want to splurge or are on a tight budget, Dunedin is one of the best places to visit in NZ that will satisfy your adventurous spirit.

Large, Sandy, Surf-Ready Beaches

birds eye view of St Kilda / St Clair Beach with waves rolling in.
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As a coastal city, Dunedin has some of the best beaches in New Zealand, with most just a stone’s throw from the Dunedin city centre. If you’re driving from our Pegasus Dunedin City branch, the closest beaches are the acclaimed Saint Clair and Saint Kilda, only a 7-minute drive away. From Dunedin’s first inhabitants to its current residents, these Dunedin 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, enjoying an easy walk, or just soaking up the sun.

Hot Pools for Colder Days

St Clair Hot Saltwater Pool is one of Dunedin's best hidden gems.
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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. This historic open-air heated swimming pool is snuggled within rocks just metres from the ocean. The relaxing attraction opened in 1884 and is the perfect Dunedin activity for visitors looking to swim in salt water, which is lovely to enjoy after surfing the cooler waves.

Secret Beach Spots…

Tunnel Beach with waves coming in.
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A fascinating beach spot for you to discover in Dunedin is Tunnel Beach. Legend has it that in the 1870s, 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.

Best visited at low tide, this beach is accessible via a twenty-minute walk from the Tunnel Beach Road car park, taking you past a magnificent sandstone sea arch and man-made tunnel to the beach. You’ll find yourself surrounded by fossil-filled cliffs, and it’s a spectacular location to grab some insta-worthy photos.

Cafés and Snack

people walking on St. Clair Esplanade on sunny day.
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If you find yourself feeling peckish and need a hot or cold drink along the way, you will be spoilt for choice with the cafés and bars around St. Clair Esplanade and the wider Dunedin centre.

You may be after a quiet morning coffee while you gaze out across the Southern Ocean, or a quick bite before returning to scenery scoping and peoplewatching. One thing is certain; you’ll find the perfect spot 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.

Where to Find the Farmers’ Market

Alternatively, you can visit the Otago Farmers Market at the northern car park of the historic Dunedin Railway Station. Here, over 70 artisan bakers, producers and growers from the Otago area showcase their locallymade goods. What’s more, it’s only a short drive from the Pegasus Dunedin City branch.

Where can I find the Farmers’ Market? 5/27 Anzac Avenue, Central Dunedin, Dunedin 9016

When is the Market open? Every Saturday morning!

A Great Mix of Delicious Cuisines

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 will surely find something to satisfy the appetite of every traveller.

Burgers, Ice Cream, and Classic Local Meals

Delicious handmade burger found in Dunedin.
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Craving an indulgent, handcrafted burger made with fresh, local ingredients? Try ReBurger – a long-time local favourite that can only be found in Otago. ReBurger is a 7-minute drive from the Pegasus City branch, near the Otago Museum.

Handmade ice cream by Patti's & Cream in Dunedin.
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Just a 2-minute walk from the Otago Museum is the Rob Roy Dairy. With over 30 years of experience, they have become legendary purveyors of ice cream. Looking for another ice cream parlour in Dunedin, New Zealand? Try a delicious designer dessert from Patties and Cream Scoop Shop. These hand-made artisan icecreams are only a 3.5kilometre drive from the Otago Museum.

Unity Park Lookout overlooking Dunedin City.
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Later, if you want to burn off your meal, take a 9-minute walk up to Unity Park Lookout and enjoy one of the best vantage points of Dunedin’s gorgeous cityscape.

A plate of delicious oysters from famous Best Cafe in Dunedin.
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You can’t get more Kiwi than deep-fried seafood with chips from a Dunedin fish and chips shop. The Best Café is famous for its oysters and has been a Dunedin staple for locals since 1932. The café is only a 6-minute drive from our Pegasus Dunedin City branch.

Fine Dining Locations

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.
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Located within the stylish Hotel St. Clair, Dunedin is the restaurant Tītī. 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.
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For something more lively, head to The Octagon, in the heart of Dunedin city. Vault 21 infuses Dunedin’s historical Asian heritage with delicious culinary treats. 

Vault 21, The Octagon in heart of Dunedin city.
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Here, you will discover a meticulously crafted menu that features an extensive range of delicious cocktails, transforming this award-winning restaurant into one of Dunedin’s top nighttime attractions.

delicious food from Vault21.
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Dunedin NIghtlife

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

Interested in a luxury night out? Visit The Grand Casino – the premier gaming entertainment venue in Dunedin, New Zealand. Located adjacent to the Scenic Hotel Southern Cross, the casino is a 4-minute drive from our Pegasus Dunedin City branch.

Get Packing for Your Road Trip Now!

We hope our suggestions of fun activities in Dunedin, New Zealand, have inspired your road trip. Once you’ve decided on which fun things you’d like to do in Dunedin, it’s time to plan your route and explore our beautiful country! But to do that, you’ll first need to check out Pegasus Rental Cars.

We have an extensive fleet that will suit your individual needs and budget. Whether you’ve arrived in Dunedin for business or pleasure, the Pegasus Car Hire Dunedin team is here to help you have the best NZ travel experience possible.