Spend a Day in Dunedin

Set off on an unforgettable journey through Ōtepoti / Dunedin, where adventure and discovery await around every corner. With a town full of art and cultural delights setting the perfect tone for a day of exploration, we’ve listed the top attractions for an exciting day in and around Dunedin. 

Larnarch Castle
Castle Adventures

Get ready for a day filled with scenic exploration, unearthing cultural history and spotting wildlife in and around Dunedin. To begin, fuel your day with an early breakfast at The Corner Store Cafe. In ‘The Octagon’ - Dunedin’s main plaza - The Corner Store serves up delicious all-day brunch options, giving you and the family a delicious start to the day. After breakfast, explore The Octagon with a walk through the reserve. Flowering gardens are in bloom here and it's the perfect place to get a feel for the city and take some family photos before heading out. From here, drive to Aotearoa / New Zealand’s only castle - Larnach Castle - only a 22-minute drive from Dunedin in your Dollar rental car. Privately owned by the Barker family, the castle and gardens are open to the public for all to explore and admire the stunning architecture and heritage gardens. Take a self-guided tour or let a tour guide show you around. Wander the castle gardens and grounds, climb up the tower and take a seat at the Ballroom Cafe. Kids will love the treasure hunt throughout the beautiful gardens - which have been rated a Garden of International Significance - where they’ll look for features including the Wishing Well, the Dungeon and the Oamaru Stone Cheshire Cat. 

Royal Albatross Centre
Watch the Wildlife

After exploring the architectural beauty of Larnach Castle, it’s time to embark on a wildlife tour across the Otago Peninsula. You can journey the area yourself or book a pre-arranged and guided tour - the Peninsula Encounters and Albatross Tour is an award-winning option that departs from Dunedin. If you choose to venture into the area in your rental car, stop by Portobello on your way to pick up some food for a lunchtime picnic. It’s an excellent place to pause and take in the views across the Otago Harbour before driving up to the Royal Albatross Centre in Harington Point. Pack your binoculars and prepare to be stunned by rare bird life and beautiful scenery at the world’s only mainland albatross colony. The whole family will love viewing the birds as they nest on the grass and soar in the wind. Next, head to the Otago Peninsula Eco Restoration Alliance (OPERA) to see hoiho / Yellow-eyed Penguins in their natural habitat. Book a 90-minute tour here for the opportunity to come up close to the world’s rarest penguin. After your tour, head to Harington Point Beach for a waterside picnic and see if you can spot native fur seals and sea lions. 

Discover Scenic Beauty

Next up, head back to town to spend the afternoon wandering the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. With a variety of plant collections on display including a rock gardenwater garden and rose garden, both children and adults will love exploring the beautiful blooms here. There are five different walking trails to choose from here ranging from an hour tramp up an extinct volcano to a quiet stroll through native gardens. Travelling with little ones? The Play Trail is an excellent way to keep the kids engaged. With a track full of interactive activities to take part in at multiple spots throughout the gardens, they’ll love adventuring through the mini hedge maze, on the playgrounds and sculptures. If your travelling party prefers trains and locomotives over flora and fauna, a trip aboard the Dunedin Railway is also a perfect way to spend the afternoon. The Seasider journey departs from Dunedin and travels up the Otago Harbour. Here, you can choose to stop off at Waitati, visit Arc Brewery or stay onboard the train and enjoy the scenery.

Perpetual Planetarium
The Weird and the Wonderful

To round out your day before settling in for dinner, head to the Tūhuru Otago Museum to browse exhibits and areas that’ll delight each member of your family. Book a session under the stars in the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium, discover weird and wacky creatures at the Tūhura Science Centre and experience immersive and engaging laser-activated works in the Beautiful Science digital gallery. Plus, you can wander through the Tūhura Tropical Forest to see hundreds of beautiful butterflies fluttering through the air, and some of them may even land on you providing a picture-perfect photo opportunity. With animal, maritime and natural history exhibits, there’s truly something for everyone here whether you love nature, history or science. Finish your day in Dunedin with dinner at Cobb and Co Restaurant at the Railway Station. With kids’ meals served up in coach-themed bowls and an extensive all-day menu, it’s the perfect setting to relax and reflect on your adventurous day throughout Dunedin.

A day in Dunedin promises cherished memories with family and friends among enchanting landscapes. From wildlife adventures to garden walks, you’ll have magical moments to look back on and a sense of adventure for your next holiday. 

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