Dunedin & Otago Peninsula Holidays

A Scottish heritage city, dramatic coastlines and rare wildlife encounters.

The south-eastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island is packed with hidden gems. Here you will find a rich Scottish heritage in Ōtepoti Dunedin and some of the world’s rarest wildlife on the Otago Peninsula. Most visits begin in Ōtepoti Dunedin, the second largest city on South Island. The city itself is relatively compact sitting in a natural volcanic bowl.

This charming city is filled with many European and, in particular, Scottish influences – the name Dunedin originates from the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, Dùn Èideann. The architecture is striking and it’s worth wandering through the city to admire the gothic churches and impressive railway station. If you are feeling fit, try walking up Baldwin Street, one of the world’s steepest at an angle of 19 degrees. Visit New Zealand’s only castle – Larnach with its impressive gardens or learn about life in the 1900s with a tour of Olveston Historic House.

The coastline of the Otago Peninsula offers some wonderful natural scenery with dramatic sea cliffs and arches. The beaches are home to a number of rare and endangered species including fur seals, the New Zealand sea lion, the world’s smallest penguin and a royal albatross colony.

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Dunedin & Otago Peninsula Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Dunedin & Otago Peninsula

Scenic Hotel Southern Cross, Dunedin

A historic city landmark

Distinction Dunedin Hotel

An upmarket city bolthole with easy access to everything Dunedin has to offer.

Get to know Ōtepoti Dunedin and Otago Peninsula and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.

Capital
TIME DIFFERENCE

GMT +12 (with New Zealand Daylight Time and New Zealand Standard Time applied, this largely equates to 11 hours ahead of the UK from early April to late September and 13 hours ahead from late September to late March)

CURRENCY

New Zealand dollar

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

25½ hours (not including stopover time)

RELIGION

New Zealand has no state religion but the majority of people are Christian

LANGUAGE

Māori and English

Where are Ōtepoti Dunedin & the Otago Peninsula?
Ōtepoti Dunedin is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island and, after Christchurch, is the second largest city on the island. It’s just a 30-minute drive south of the city to the Otago Peninsula.

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Ōtepoti Dunedin heritage
When visiting Ōtepoti Dunedin, you could easily think you were in a city in Scotland. At the centre of the city is The Octagon, an eight-sided plaza with a statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns at its heart. Reverend Thomas Burns, the poet’s uncle, was one of the first settlers arriving on the John Wickliffe ship to start a new life in New Zealand. The Toitū Otago Early Settlers Museum gives an insight as to what life was like for the first Europeans arriving in New Zealand. Today, amongst Dunedin’s impressive Victorian buildings you will find shops selling tartan trinkets and bars serving whisky. Perched overlooking the harbour is Larnach Castle. Commissioned by banker and politician William Larnach in 1871, it’s New Zealand’s only castle. The gardens, rated a Garden of International Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust, are impressive with many native species on display. Olveston Historic Home is a museum filled with antiques and artworks collected by philanthropist David Theomin. It is worth a visit for a glimpse into what life was like in the early 1900s.

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Natural landscapes
Shaped by the Southern Ocean, the beautiful Otago Peninsula has many natural features. Head to Victory Beach to see the pyramids – triangular-shaped rocks, created millions of years ago with the eruption of the Rakiriri volcano. Follow the passage built in the 1870s to Tunnel Beach to see the large sandstone sea arch and cliffs where fossils have been found. The Sandymount Track leads to a dramatic sea cliff known as The Chasm and also to the Lovers Leap arch, that fills with water from the incoming waves.

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Walk on the wild side
It’s no surprise that Dunedin and the surrounding Otago Peninsula has been described as ‘New Zealand’s wildlife capital’. It is home to many rare and endangered species including the yellow-eyed penguin and the world’s smallest penguin – the little blue penguin. Taiaroa Head is the world’s only mainland royal albatross breeding colony, an amazing bird to see in flight with a wingspan of up to three metres. North of Dunedin, overlooking Blueskin Bay, is the Orokonui Ecosanctuary where you may see the colourful kākā parrot and New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi. The Otago Peninsula is also home to fur seals at Pilot’s Beach and the endemic New Zealand sea lion at Te Rauone Beach.

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