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Dunedin, Southland & Stewart Island


Map of Dunedin, Southland & Stewart Island"The people here are Scots. They stopped here on their way to heaven, thinking they had arrived."
Mark Twain 1895

Dunedin is old Gaelic for Edinburgh and was once the largest city in New Zealand. Its grand history can be seen in the marvelous 19th Century buildings today. It's a city that has a thriving student and arts culture with many bars, cafés restaurant and theatre options.

Dunedin's Otago Peninsula has an abundance of wildlife seldom seen so close to a city - fur seals, the rare yellow-eyed penguin, colonies of cormorants and the mighty albatross.

Half Moon Bay, Stewart IslandStewart Island is the New Zealand South Island's south island. It isn't a place you just stumble across - you have to go out of your way to get there. It's an hour's ferry ride from the isolated town of Invercargill to the even more isolated town of Oban. About three hundred people live in Oban with another eighty or so residents scattered along the coast.

Fishing is the number one industry with tourism a close second, but it can get chilly (the next stop south is Antarctica!). The temperatures in summer only average 15 degrees Celsius and most of the visitors keep moving to keep warm. There are more churches than pubs, and more sheep than people and it's one of those rare places where everyone knows everyone and no-one locks their doors. It's also a great spot for walking and watching bird life. There are no movie theatres, malls or amusement centres but if you want natural beauty, a total unwind and a quite time with a small, locals community - it's perfect.

Return to topTo See and Do

  • Visit Dunedin's excellent Public Art Gallery.
  • Two of the city's stately homes are 15 minutes from the city. Glenfalloch is set in 12 hectares of woodland gardens and Larnach castle has battlements, a fairytale ballroom, beautiful carved ceilings and a tragic history. The Castle Ghost may even appear for you.
  • Take a day trip to the vintage Taieri Gorge Limited train from Dunedin's grand Renaissance style station through the rugged scenery of Taieri Gorge.
  • Drop into Speight's Brewery for a fine southern ale.
  • Private gardens are open all year as is the excellent Botanic Garden and the Rhododendron Festival is in October.
  • Join the locals and throw a line into Dunedin Harbour from the wharf and hope for a salmon to bite.
  • Drive 70km north to the beach between the seaside villages of Moeraki and Hampden. Strewn across the beach are huge, perfectly round giant marbles (some are 3 metres in circumference and weigh several tonnes). They formed naturally over four million years.
  • The Catlins Coast is a mysterious and desolately beautiful place and is home to the hoiho (extremely rare yellow-eyed penguin). At Curio Bay you can see the smallest and rarest of marine mammals, Hector's dolphin.
  • St Clair offers the most consistent surfing in New Zealand.
  • Take the Goldfields Heritage Highway to discover charming, historic villages.
  • The best brown trout fishing is around the small town of Gore on the Mataura River.
  • Gourmets consider the oysters from Bluff as the best in the world.
  • Go kiwi spotting on Stewart Island - around 20,000 of the little flightless bird live there.
  • Walk the stunning Rakiura Track - one of New Zealand's Great Walks.
  • Explore the island by kayak or, for a fun and informative tour, join up with Sam Sampson and Billy the Bus.

Return to topSample Itinerary 5 days

(Note: this is only a sample - once you tell us your areas of interest, we will construct a personal, suggested itinerary for you.)

Day 1

  • Stroll the city and take on Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world (gradient to 1 in 2.9).
  • To the Otago Peninsula to see the yellow-eyed penguins and royal albatross colonies.
  • Visit Lanarch Castle and Glenfalloch Gardens.

    Day 2

  • Take the scenic railway trip along the Taieri Gorge.
  • Drive 1 hour drive north to the incredible Moeraki Boulders.
  • Relax in a charming old-fashioned pub over a locally brewed ale.

    Day 3

  • Take the southern scenic route towards Invercargill allowing the whole day to explore the Catlins Coast (time your visit for low tide so you can explore the Cathedral Caves and blowholes.
  • Overnight at a local farmstay.

    Day 4

  • Spend the day exploring Stewart Island. Take a 20 minute flight from Invercargill or park the car at Bluff and take the ferry (1 hour).
  • Enjoy a bush walk or bus tour.
  • Stay overnight to go on a kiwi spotting expedition.

    Day 5

  • Visit Invercargill's Anderson Park Art gallery or the museum to see New Zealand's dinosaur descendent, the tuatara.
  • Take a scenic drive to trout fishing country or along the southern coast towards Fiordland.
  • Or… make an early start to connect to the full day Waiaurahiri Wilderness Jet tour across Lake Hauroko to the south coast.

Return to topWhere to Stay

Click below for a choice of accommodation options in these regions:

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