Art, wildlife, culture: in the second-largest city in the South Island you can really find whatever you are looking for. Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand is one of the main cities of the country and reflects the Scottish heritage of its founding fathers: the old and new architecture mingle together giving a European appearance to the capital of the Otago Province.
Even the University, the oldest in New Zealand, is inspired by Glasgow University in Scotland. There are a lot of things to see both in Octagon city centre and towards the coast, the best way to reach both plus the spectacular and less travelled parts is by car, you can find some good offers on the internet and rent a car.
A good starting point to learn about the history of the city, is the Otago Museum its considered one of the best. It’s dedicated to the various aspects of New Zealand history, from the Maori culture to the art, geology and the natural history of the country. Close to the museum, the Dunedin Botanic Gardens absolutely worth a visit: it’s free and a natural oasis with thousands of different plant species and an aviary with over 200 birds, mostly exotic species. The most curious attraction though is definitely Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street. Don’t even try to scale it with your car! Try to reach the top by foot instead it’s only 350 meters in length.
Only ten minutes drive in the car from the city, you’ll find a chocolate lovers’ paradise: Cadburys World, a chocolate factory open to the public, where you can learn how chocolate is made and of course sampling is aloud during the tour. In the suburbs, you can visit the one and only castle of the whole state: Larnach Castle. It’s believed to be haunted by Mr Larnach, who committed suicide in the castle. If you are brave enough you can even sleep in one of its bedrooms.
From the castle you can easily reach the Otago Peninsula and the Royal Albatross Centre. This is the wildlife capital of New Zealand, where you can see the world’s only colony of Royal Albatross as well as penguins and seal colonies. A real must for animal lover.
New Zealand cuisine is a real mix, you can find influences from Maori and Asian dishes but most of all from British dishes. A lot of dishes are generally based on meat and kumara -the typical sweet potatoes Maori brought from Polynesia. Make sure you eat the hangi if you want to sample the main Maori dish: meat, very often lamb with steamed vegetables cooked in a hole digged in the terrain and covered by a plank. The best shellfish come from the near the south sea and green mussels are a must for all the seafood lovers.
If you like desserts, you must try the pavlova: an extremely popular dessert meringue-based covered in kiwifruit, passion fruit and strawberries.
The best time to visit Dunedin is from January to April: its position in the oriental side of the island, so the climate is not to harsh, making possible to visit the city year round.