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.

1.Dunedin Botanic Garden

Dunedin Botanic Garden
© Sébastien Closs/

Since opening over 150 years ago, the Dunedin Botanic Garden continues to delight new generations of nature lovers. The first botanic garden in New Zealand is known for its exquisite horticultural and botanical collections. Set in North Dunedin, the popular destination boasts more than 6,800 plant species along with wildlife, such as native bellbirds. Highlights include the Camellia Collection and the Rhododendron Dell, as well as beautiful roses and other blooms. There are quite a few specialized trails for visitors to explore, including the Dunedin Volcano Trail, Treasured Plants Trail, and Play Trail.

Cnr & Great King Street, North Dunedin, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-77-40-00

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2.Otago Museum

Otago Museum
© Otago Museum

What began as a humble collection back in 1865 has transformed into a world-class center for culture, nature, and science. A lot has changed since then—and the Otago Museum now has 1.5 million objects from all over the world in its collection. Exhibits explore the world we live in from the local roots of Dunedin to the depths of outer space and more. Visitors also enjoy discovering the galleries, displays, tours, and talks with highlights, including the People of the World and the Tangata Whenua galleries, The Southern Land, Southern People Gallery, the Tropical Forest Butterfly House, the Discovery World Science Center, and the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium.

419 Great King Street, North Dunedin, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-74-74-74

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3.Toi Itu Otago Settlers Museum

Toi Itu Otago Settlers Museum
© Toi Itu Otago Settlers Museum

Housed in the former New Zealand Transit Building, the Toi Itu Otago Settlers Museum fascinates with its showcase of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding region of the Otago Province. Through innovative exhibitions across 14 galleries, the museum highlights the culture, fashion, art, and technology of what is considered the country’s first great city starting with the early settlers to the Maori people, the Chinese, and recent arrivals. Visitors will encounter everything from costumes to artifacts and other interesting objects as they learn about the area’s history from the Gold Rush to the music scene and more.

31 Queens Gardens, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-77-50-52

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4.Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Dunedin Public Art Gallery
© Dunedin Public Art Gallery

New Zealand artists, such as Frances Hodgkins, and world-renowned masters, such as Monet, and Pissarro grace the halls of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. The museum boasts a stellar selection of both British and European works, including paintings as well as decorative arts, Japanese prints, among others. After viewing the paintings, sculpture and other items on display, guests can pop into the gift shop or the Nova café for a quick bite. Throughout the year, the museum regularly hosts public events, including art talks, lectures, and video screenings that are worth a visit.

30 The Octagon, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-74-32-40

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5.Dunedin Street Art

Dunedin Street Art
© Swiss-Lightcaptures/

One of the best attractions in New Zealand happens to be outdoors and free. Walking through the Warehouse precinct and the surrounding area reveals 30-plus original works, part of a homegrown initiative that is collectively referred to as Dunedin Street Art Trail. Artists from around the world and right in the city collaborate to create a colorful landscape. Over the years, the project has drawn the likes of enigmatic Belgian artist ROA, who painted a vibrant tuatara on Bath Street, and the UK’s Phlegm, whose fantastical creature awaits in an alleyway. Other artists who are part of the project include Pixel Pancho from Italy and Dal East from China, among others. A self-guided tour of the creative and historic hubs is the best way to take in everything.

Warehouse Precinct, Dunedin, New Zealand

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6.Ironic Cafe

Ironic Cafe
© Ironic Café

Set just off main street close to the Otago Farmers Market, the Ironic Café & Bar is a casual and inviting spot, known for fresh, modern, and innovative fare. Since opening in 2007, the farm-to-table eatery with an industrial feel continues to delight diners from near and far with an enticing menu and a relaxed ambiance, including an outdoor courtyard for alfresco dining and views of the iconic Dunedin Railway Station. As for the dishes, mornings begin with Apple Crumble and Crispy Corn Waffles, while lunchtime sees selections, such as the NZ Lamb Salad and Chili Caramel Pork Belly. Dinner tempts with main courses, including Local Green Lip Mussels and Blue Cod, which pair well with the extensive drink list of local wines and beers.

9 Anzac Avenue, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-77-99-88

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7.Two Chefs Bistro

Two Chefs Bistro
© Two Chefs Bistro

Old World Paris is reimagined at Two Chefs Bistro, a chic establishment with inviting interiors including cozy banquettes, rich dark woods, and a marble-topped bar. On the menu, guests will find a mix of classic French dishes and contemporary New Zealand cuisine, from starters, such as Steak Tartare to mains like Roasted Lamb Rump with pea and mint croquette, gentleman relish and spring carrots. Dessert delights with a decadent Ocho Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake and Panna Cotta with Burnt Caramel Ice Cream. As for drinks, the extensive wine list boasts an impressive selection, such as Central Otago Pinot Noir and boutique beers.

121 Stuart Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-77-72-93

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8.No. 7 Balmac

No. 7 Balmac
© No. 7 Balmac

Comfort food prepared with classic techniques is what’s on the menu at No. & Balmac. A five-minute from Dunedin city center, this friendly bistro-style eatery in the Maori Hill neighborhood is a multiple Cuisine Good Food Awards Finalist and with good reason. Nice touches, such as dishes cooked on an applewood grill and fresh veggies and herbs from an organic garden, onsite make this place stand out with sumptuous selections as Wildshot Pan Roasted Fiordland Venison Saltimbocca with Balsamic Roasted Potatoes, Whipped Chevre, Crispy Prosciutto, and Sage. Here, meals end on a sweet note with tempting desserts, including Caramel Condensed Flan with Whole Orange Marmalade and Whipped Cream or Turkish Coffee Crème Pot with Walnut Baklava and Spiced Fig with Cream.

7 Balmacewen Road, Maori Hill, Dunedin 9010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-64-00-64

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9.Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant

Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant
© Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant

Centrally located in the Octagon, close to the Forsyth Barr Stadium, the Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant is a lovely place for drinks and a meal. Head Chef Rose Lock has created an eclectic menu with starters ranging from Chicken Liver Pate with Tomatillo Relish to Beef Cheeks Braised in Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Red Wine, Garlic on Parsnip Puree. For the main course, lunch offers Pork Belly Slowed Cooked in Star Anise and Risotto of Spring Pea, Asparagus, Basil, and Mint, while dinner entices with Silver Fern Farms Fillet Steak on Mustard Mash with Café de Paris Butter and Jus. Of course, much attention is given to the wine selections, and it shows on the menu with local selections, such as Akarua Pinot Gris from Central Otago to international additions such as the Barton & Guestier Rose from France to name a few.

1st Floor/12 The Octagon, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-74-08-24

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© Esplanade

When in the mood to dine somewhere cozy, keep Esplanade in mind. The relaxed Italian restaurant and bar sits on the waterfront in St. Clair and offers incredible views as well as a menu of hearty pizza, pasta, and other plates. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, meals are sure to satisfy with selections, such as the Panino Toastie with Prosciutto Cotto, Piccanti Salami, Pesto, and Mozzarella in the morning, and comfort classics, such as Lasagna, and Risotto for lunch and dinner.

Esplanade, St. Clair, Dunedin 9012, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-56-25-44

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11.Etrusco at The Savoy

Etrusco at The Savoy
© Etrusco at The Savoy

A popular Italian pizzeria and spaghetteria, the family-owned and operated Etrusco at The Savoy is a go-to spot for a memorable meal. Starters such as the Bruschetta and the Tuscan flatbread Schiacciata are perfect for sharing before moving on to hearty main dishes. For those in the mood for pizza, there are plenty of marvelous choices, whether it’s the Savoy with a bleu cheese, ham, and artichokes, or if you prefer, a little seafood, then the Gamberetti with shrimp and salami should do. As for pasta, every selection is fresh and flavorful, from the Pomorola with its classic Tuscan sauce and farfalle to the Cinghiale o Cervo, with wild boar or venison sauce, porcini mushrooms, tomato, and Montepulciano wine. Speaking of vino, the restaurant also has an impressive wine cellar menu for any occasion.

8 Moray Place, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-77-37-37

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11 Best Things to Do in Dunedin, New Zealand