Dunedin’s best bits

The city of Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, has a long and interesting history. Unique among New Zealand settlements for its strong Scottish connections, its very name originates from Dùn Èidean, which actually translates as the Gaelic for Edinburgh.  The founders of Dunedin must have been reminded of the old country by the surrounding hills and the chill in the winter’s air.

The Best Dunedin Tourist Attractions

The city also holds the distinction of being home to New Zealand’s only castle.  It takes its name from the Larnach family.  A banker, William James Mudie Larnach followed the gold rush to Otago via Australia.  He became a successful businessman, with an empire spanning not only banking, but shipping, farming and land speculation.  In the 1870s, he built Larnach Castle as the family seat.  Since his death, the castle has been a lunatic asylum, a hospital for soldiers suffering from shell shock, a nunnery and even farming – the once-grand ballroom was used as a sheep pen.  Currently, it is owned by the Barker family who have spent almost five decades lovingly restoring and maintaining the place.  As a result, it is one of the most popular Dunedin tourist attractions along with its beautiful gardens.

Another historic building of note is Dunedin Railway Station. It delights visitors with its ornate exterior, a Flemish-style construction the work of George Troup, who earned a knighthood for his efforts.   The building boasts stained glass windows and mosaic floor tiles created by Royal Doulton and unsurprisingly, it features in the world’s most beautiful train station lists from well-known names like Fodor’s and Conde Nast.  It’s no museum piece, however, functioning as a working station for the Taieri Gorge Railway and the scenic Seasider service.  The station also hosts a farmer’s market every Saturday.

Dunedin Tourist Attractions: Dunedin train station
Dunedin Train Station Photo: Antilived CC BY-SA 3.0

Dunedin’s coastal location means visitors can also experience one of the most attractive beaches on South Island.  Tunnel Beach, two kilometres outside the city, features spectacularly eroded sandstone cliffs, arches and caves.  The beach takes its name from the tunnel that was carved out of the rock to enable access to the secluded beach that sits underneath the cliffs.  It’s worth looking out for fossils in the sandstone – brachiopods, sea urchins and even the bones of an extinct whale have been found here.  Avoid visiting from August to October when the walking trail is closed for lambing.  Tunnel Beach isn’t the only one in the area worth visiting; check out St Clair and Aramoana beaches too.

Dunedin Tourist Attractions: Tunnel Beach
Tunnel Beach from along the coast Photo: Ingolfson (public domain)

Have you been to this beautiful city? Do you have other Dunedin tourist attractions  to add?

About JuliaHammond

Website: http://www.juliahammond.co.uk

Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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