Nestled at the head of Otago Harbour, Dunedin is the second-largest city of South Island in New Zealand. Natural beauty abounds, and travelers will spend lots of time outside, whether it is exploring the flora and fauna of Dunedin Botanic Garden, seeing the vibrant public art in the Warehouse district, or dining al fresco in the courtyard of the Ironic Café. There are plenty of cultural attractions to include on any itinerary, including the Otago Museum, which shines the spotlight on regional history, and the Toi Itu Otago Settlers Museum, which provides a fascinating account of the early pioneers to the area. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Dunedin Botanic Garden
3.Toi Itu Otago Settlers Museum
4.Dunedin Public Art Gallery
5.Dunedin Street Art
7.Two Chefs Bistro
8.No. 7 Balmac
9.Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant
11.Etrusco at The Savoy
11 Best Things to Do in Dunedin, New Zealand
- Dunedin Botanic Garden, Photo: Sébastien Closs/stock.adobe.com
- Otago Museum, Photo: Otago Museum
- Toi Itu Otago Settlers Museum, Photo: Toi Itu Otago Settlers Museum
- Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Photo: Dunedin Public Art Gallery
- Dunedin Street Art, Photo: Swiss-Lightcaptures/stock.adobe.com
- Ironic Cafe, Photo: Ironic Café
- Two Chefs Bistro, Photo: Two Chefs Bistro
- No. 7 Balmac, Photo: No. 7 Balmac
- Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant, Photo: Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant
- Esplanade, Photo: Esplanade
- Etrusco at The Savoy, Photo: Etrusco at The Savoy
- Cover Photo: KengYang/stock.adobe.com
More Ideas in New Zealand: Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is found between World Heritage National park and Whanganui National Park and is considered a wilderness wonderland. The National Park Village, New Zealand is found directly in the middle of the park with views of the three mountains that encompass the park—Mr. Ruapehu, Mt. Tongariro, and Mt. Ngauruhoe.
Natural Features of Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is home to lush forest, dry mountainside, and snowy mountain tops. Hikes spend days backpacking through the various landscapes of Tongariro National Park. Some of the most amazing natural sights to see while visiting the national park include:
- Whakapapaiti Valley
- Tupapakurua Falls
- Tawhai Falls
- Taranaki Falls
- Tama Lakes
- Silica Rapids
- Ridge Track
- Ohinetonga Track
- Mount Ruapehu Crater
- Mounds Walks
- Lake Rotopounamu
- Mountain Track
- Tongariro Northern Circuit
- Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- The Timber Trail
Visitors to the park can also enjoy cycling along many different trails including Fishers Track, Old Coach Track and 42 Traverse. Wilderness fishing in available as well as skiing and snowboarding in the winter months.
Transport services are available through several different vendors and retailers at Tongariro National Park. Most vendors offer shuttle pick up to and from activities, transport between villages, and transport around villages. Shuttles usually run on a schedule that is available through the retailer. Ticketing information is independent to each retailer.
Things to Do at Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is open all year although there are certain parking restrictions that should be adhered. The National Park Website should be utilized to check for any closures, parking restrictions, and warnings. There are many guides and tour companies available to help tourists enjoy their trip to the national park.
Adrift Mountain Bike Guiding- Downhill mountain biking is offered through Adrift. These half day guides trek through the trails of the Central Plateau and are full of adrenaline.
My Kiwi Adventure- Mountain bike rentals and shuttle packages are available at My Kiwi Adventure. Staff can even put together a personalized mountain biking itinerary for visitors.
Mt. Ruapehu Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Area- Two of the largest ski areas in New Zealand are found on Mt. Ruapehu. Ski slopes available for all levels of skier including newbie.
Adrift Wanganui Canoe Guiding- Guided canoe tours down the Wanganui River.
Ruapehu Adventure Rides- Travel the national park on guided buggy and quad bike rides.
Adrift Tongariro Guiding- Explore the rugged landscape of Tongariro and Whanganui National parks on foot with an experienced guide. One day and multi-day treks are available through Adrift and include canoe, walking, and cycling.
Tongariro River Rafting- This 2.5-hour rafting experience takes you over 60 rapids with an expert guide navigating the river.
Adventure Outdoors Tongariro New Zealand- Personalized tours that can include rafting, canoeing, guided hikes, alpine crossing, caving, and more. Specializing in small group tours.
Whakapapa Scenic Chairlift Rides- Visit the largest active volcano in New Zealand, Mt. Ruapehu where you can take a chairlift ride to see the highest café in New Zealand—Knoll Ridge Café and see amazing 360 views of Tongariro National Park.
Indoor Climbing Wall- At National Park Village, this indoor climbing wall is 8 meters high and offers 55 different climbing paths. The Wall is open daily, all year round.
Accommodations at Tongariro National Park
There are many options to stay in the National park from campgrounds and hostels to 5-star hotels and resorts. Some of the most popular include:
- Alpine Chalets
- National Park Backpackers and YHA
- Skotel Alpine Resort
- The Park Hotel Ruapehu
- Ski Haus
- Shalom Lodge
- Alpine Apartments
- Plateau Lodge
- Tongariro Crossing Lodge
- Wood Pigeon Lodge
- Chateau Tongariro Hotel
- Mountain Heights Lodge
- Pipers Lodge
- Adventure Lodge and Motel
- Howards Mountain Lodge
Shopping and Dining
Visitors to Tongariro National Park can find souvenir shopping at the Tongariro Visitor’s Center and I-Site on State Highway 48 in Whakapapa Village. The visitor’s center also has historical and cultural exhibits and serves as the gateway into the park and dual world heritage area.
There are other shops available on resort and lodge properties and ski shops located on the mountains that sell and rent ski gear.
There are six restaurants at Tongariro National Park they include:
- Schnapps Bar- National Park Village
- Chateau Tongariro High Tea- Whakapapa Village
- Spiral Restaurant and Bar- The Park Hotel
- Knoll Ridge café- Whakapapa Ski Area
- Macrocarpa Café- National Park Village
- Station Café- National Park Village
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More Ideas in New Zealand: Milford Sound
The Milford Sound in Fiordland, New Zealand, was once described by Rudyard Kipling as the 8th wonder of the world. The Milford Sound is one of the most scenic places on the South Island featuring mountains, waterfalls, forests, and incredible marine life.
About Milford Sound
The Milford Sound was created in the ice ages by glacier activity and can be found now inside of Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand in the southwest coast. Although it is called a sound, Milford Sound is actually a fiord and is the only fiord accessible by road in New Zealand. Only one road provides access to Milford Sound--Highway 94, but the sound is also accessible by air and boat.
The Maori people discovered the Milford Sound over 1,000 years ago and used the area for hunting and fishing. According to Maori Legend, Milford Sound was created by an Atua (godly figure) who was charged with carving out the Fiordland coast. The Maori people call Milford Sound Piopiotahi and have another legend about the Piopio bird flying to Milford Sound after the death of Maui.
The Milford Sound is hidden so well that even famous European Explorer Captain Cook passed the entrance twice before finally spotting the narrow channel leading inside. The first European settler to visit the region was John Grono, a sealer. In 1823 he named the region Milford Sound in tribute to the Welsh narrow inlet Milford Haven. Several decades later Donald Sutherland became the first permanent resident of Milford Sound in 1877. He lived as a hermit for several years and discovered Sutherland Falls. He was married in 1890 and his wife joined him, living in the sound and together they opened the first hotel in the Milford Sound which provided accommodations for the many visitors to Milford Track.
Homer Tunnel was constructed in 1935 which gave access to Milford Sound by road. The tunnel opened in 1954 and visitors began to flood the area to see the 8th wonder of the world themselves. In 1990, Milford Sound was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and currently is considered one of the most beautiful natural places in the world.
Activities in Milford Sound
The Milford Sound is part of Fiordland National Park and has been integrated into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Milford Sound is a protected area where visitor can enjoy hiking, backpacking, cruising, kayaking, boating, and opportunities to get up close and personal with marine life.
There are 44 different tour options through various vendors through the Milford Sound and Fiordland area. Options for multi-day hiking, half day hikes, overnight cruises, and tours by air or coach bus are available. The Fiordland National Park is open 365 days per year; however, independent tour company hours will vary by company.
Some Highlight Activities available in Milford Sound Include:
Descend SCUBA diving- Serving small groups of no more than 6 people total, SCUBA diving with descend is an intimate experience that begins with a cruise and highlights the black coral trees, dog sharks, seals, octopus, and other remarkable sea creatures. 2 crew persons go out with every group dive.
Milford Sound Underwater Observatory and Discovery Center- Even if you can't SCUBA dive, you can go 10 meters underground where the above ground discovery center turns into an underwater observatory for the Milford Sound. The discovery center is a floating building and is unique in its design and purpose. Open 365 days a year, most of the touring companies will include a stop here.
Milford Sound Overnight Cruises- These cruises offer luxury accommodations aboard the Fiordland Jewel and are all inclusive. On deck hot tubs and gourmet dining are available on the s-star cruise boat. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking and other adventures. This boutique cruise ship only accommodates 20 passengers per night between 9 cabin rooms.
Wairaurahiri Jet- Adventure seekers will be right at home with Wairaurahiri Jet. This company explores the Southern Fiordland through rock strewn rapids. A guided tour and lunch are included. Also offering fishing, hunting, birdwatching, and hiking tours.
Other than the overnight cruise, there are only three options for accommodations within the Milford Sound.
Milford Sound Lodge-Chalets- These suites located right on the water are luxury accommodations and offer views of the rainforest, mountains, and river. Each room includes a private bathroom, underfloor heating, and a kitchenette.
Milford Sound Lodge Rainforest Campervan Park- This park is for Campervans and also offers riverside chalets, private and shared backpacking rooms, and brand-new dining, bathroom, and lounge facilities.
Milford Sound Lodge Backpackers- Perfect for those exploring the fiords with just a backpack and hiking boots, this facility offers assorted styles of dorm style bunks which can accommodate 4-10 people each. Rooms are stocked with linens, towels, and have central heat. Bathrooms are shared, and tent sites are also available.
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More Ideas in New Zealand: Waitaki
The Waitaki region of New Zealand is known for Maori Rock art, unbelievable natural landscapes, and is steeped in mystery. Waitaki, New Zealand is the central region of the Southern Island. The eastern coastline is wild and rugged while the western border is traced by mountains with rolling plains in between.
The coastal town of Moeraki is home to a mysterious set of giant boulders, more than 65 million years old that intentionally dot the coastline. Inland, visitors will find Aoraki Mount Cook and miles of cycleways, charming towns, and limestone cliffs nestling ancient fossils. Maori rock drawings can be seen in this area and three impressive dams.
There are three towns that make up Waitaki:
Oamaru- This picturesque town made up of Whitestone is where visitor will find the best heritage buildings that have been preserved in New Zealand. Stroll the Victorian precinct and Harbor-Tyne Street for especially impressive homes and visit the steampunk playground and museum. The town is also known for Omaru Harbor where little blue penguins have a colony and sunset penguin viewing is offered. Botanical gardens are also renowned in Oamaru with most of them being public. This town is home to less than 9,000 people.
Kurow- This town known for boating and trout fishing is found at the intersect of Waitaki and Hakatarmea Rivers. The Waitaki River provides the best jet boating in New Zealand and the trout fishing is legendary throughout the many lakes and rivers. Visitors should consider staying in historic cottages or home in the mountains. Kurow is also home to many different wineries and is a stop on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. Population size is only 340 people.
Omarama- Glider pilots like to come to Omarama which is situated in the Mackenzie basin between mountains. World gliding record competitions have been held in Omarama. Mount Cook National Park is also located here along with several other Waitaki attractions.
Things to Do in Waitaki
Waitaki is known for its unique history and geological formations. While there are many different experiences to be had in Waitaki, there are a few that are particularly popular.
Oamaru Victorian Precinct- Visit the old Victorian world at the Oamaru Victorian Precinct where there are art galleries, shops, museums, cafes, restaurants, and steampunk attractions in the precinct. Victorian costumes are available to rent to really get into the spirit.
Omarama Hot Tubs- Mackenzie Country is home to the Omarama Hot Tubs where visitor can soak in hot mountain spring water with views of the lake and mountains. A sauna, massage and other spa amenities are available here.
Clay Cliffs- Formed over one million years ago, the Clay Cliffs are ten minutes outside of Omarama and were made from ancient glacier flow. There are ravines and trails to explore.
Blue Penguin Colony- No trip to Oamaru can be complete without a visit to the harbor to meet the baby blue penguins. Witness the penguins coming in from the sea to their nests at night.
Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail- This cycle trail stretches from Oamaru to Aoraki Mount Cook and can be completed in one trip that takes 4-6 days. There are also many shorter trail options that offer views of Elephant Rocks, lake Tekapo, Clay Cliffs, and Maori Rock art, amongst other national treasures.
Moeraki Boulders- Koekohe Beach on the North Otago Coast is home to the mysterious Moeraki Boulders. The spherical rocks were formed 65 million years ago and each way several tons. They are lined up along the coast line with no explanation of how they were moved or who put them there. Some scientists believe the boulder to be calcite deposits.
Oamaru Public Gardens- The botanic gardens were started in 1876 on Severn Street and serve as an expression of Oamaru’s Victorian History. The gardens are full of statues and fountains including The Wonderland Statue by Thomas J Clapperton. Other popular attractions at the gardens are Summerhouse, Japanese Red Bridge, and the band rotunda. There are oriental gardens as well as sundials, lawn croquet, a peacock house and aviary.
Totara Estate- These fully restored stone farm buildings date back to the early 1800s. The site is managed by New Zealand Historic Places Trust and features four original Oamaru structures made from stone—A meat house, granary, men’s quarters, and cook house. The estate serves as a museum to agriculture in the early Victorian era and the history of farm management and the meat industry in New Zealand.
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