Self Drive Dunedin | Avis Car Rental

Dunedin Self Drive Holiday

Dunedin is a little touch of Scotland in the South Pacific; in fact its name is Scottish Gaelic for Edinburgh. Until 1900 Dunedin was the largest and wealthiest city in New Zealand and the splendid, lovingly restored architecture tells the stories of the gold rush and farming booms that the Otago region has enjoyed. Amidst the buildings of yesteryear a thriving student city hums today. Dunedin is a great staging post for drives around the beautiful coast and beaches - or inland to the breathtaking Otago region. Or explore the fashion, culture and heritage on offer in the city centre.





Otago Museum

The South is an area of extremes - it has the driest, windiest, wettest and coldest spots in the country. The museum has an excellent exhibition - Southern Land, Southern People - that takes you through the history and unique geography. The museum also boasts a science discovery centre complete with tropical rainforest. A visit not to be missed - especially if it isn't feeling too tropical outside.

Otago Museum Website


Taieri Gorge Railway

A wonderful way to spend half a day. Drive first to the Dunedin Railway station - an architectural highlight and one of the grandest public buildings in New Zealand. From here you can catch a special train through the Taieri Gorge. Marvel at the hand -cut tunnels through mountains, the wrought-iron viaducts and the wonderful scenery. The trip takes you to Pukerangi, or further on to Middlemarch where you can meet the Otago Central Rail Trail -a disused railway line into Central Otago now used for mountain biking and hiking. Check the seasonal timetables.

Taieri Railway Website


Larnach Castle

Larnach Castle has a storied and strange history. The name may conjure up certain thoughts, but it's not a castle in the "moat and drawbridge" variety, but rather a large residence. Indeed, it's an unusually large mansion by New Zealand standards with more than 40 bedrooms. William Larnach, a businessman, banker and Member of Parliament built the castle in the late 1800s but ran into financial strife soon after. He killed himself at Parliament. According to legend this was because he heard that his young third wife was having an affair with his favourite son. He is said to haunt the ground floor, so keep an eye out. For equally super, yet rather more natural pleasures you may also enjoy wandering the gardens. The New Zealand Garden Trust rates them as being of international significance and the views are spectacular to the harbour and region below.

Larnach Castle Website


Walk the Octagon

Thanks to periods of wealth during the late 1800s, Dunedin possesses perhaps the best collection of Edwardian and Victorian buildings in the country. A broad selection of styles are represented - with pretty much anything romantic and a little dramatic making an appearance. Stroll the Octagon by day or at night when the buildings are grandly lit. Be sure to take in the Italianate Municipal Chambers and the Gothic Revival St Paul's Anglican Cathedral. Venture further afield to the Greek Revival-style former ANZ building on Princes St - in fact on most main streets you'll find charming examples of long-gone building fashions. Look out for the bronze plaques on the ground that will lead you on an hour-long, 2 kilometre heritage walk of the city. Pick either Heritage walk 1 or Heritage walk 2 and follow them to complete a loop.




Speight's Brewery

Speight's is a beer known as 'the pride of the south' and you can visit their brewery to see the brewing in action on Rattray St, just around the corner from the Octagon. Founded in 1876, they've been making beer on site since. Their tours are not to be missed so be sure to book ahead. They take you through a history of beer, show you their brewing process and then have you sample their work. And for something a little different they also offer water. Not just any water though. They have a tap on site that is spring water from a well deep below the property that is available free to the public.

Speights Website


Cadbury World

The sweetest attraction in town is definitely the Cadbury Chocolate Factory on Cumberland St. Head along for a tour of the working facility. A special highlight is the choc-fall, a waterfall of chocolate that cascades down in a disused crumb silo. There are opportunities to sample product and a merchandise and special chocolate shop for after. Booking ahead is essential, and although visits run seven days it is only on weekdays that you can see the factory at work for the full 75-minute experience. There are abundant metered parks at the nearby Railway Station.

Cadbury World Website


Steepest Street: Baldwin St

Dunedin is home to the world's steepest residential Street: Baldwin St. When the planners laid out the grid for Dunedin they had not actually seen the site for the city. In fact, many suburbs were planned from London. This has led to a few unusual grid choices but none more so than Baldwin St heading right up the side of Signal Hill. The last portion of the road is sealed with concrete as the incline is so steep that on a hot day bitumen asphalt would run down the hill. The gradient is around 35% - severe enough to see this listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Upon reaching the top there is a reward - a wee drinking fountain. And mind your step coming down. Baldwin Street is just 3.5 kilometres northeast of the city centre, with plentiful free parking on the street.


Tunnel Beach

Ten minutes south of Dunedin along the road to Brighton is a secluded beach with a unique access way. In the 1870s a passage was hand-carved through rock allowing people to reach a beautiful sheltered spot at the feet of sea-carved sandstone cliffs. The walk is around an hour return and requires some fitness. 70 steps and poor lighting in the tunnel mean this is not for everyone, but moderate fitness and a careful approach should see you right.

Dept. of Conservation Website




Scarfie Culture

Of the 125,000 residents of Dunedin, around 25,000 are students. They're known as "scarfies" for the scarves they wear in the yellow and blue Otago colours. The young population gives the city a hum. Attend a rugby game to see the Highlanders Super Rugby franchise play or the Otago National Provincial Championship side. Head to a bar to catch some live music. You're also in the home of what is called the "Dunedin Sound" a low-fi indie-pop movement from the 80s associated with a local label called Flying Nun. You'll still find firm fans playing acts like The Clean and The Chills to this day. For an anthropological jaunt head to North Dunedin to see the student flat streets - where improvisation is more likely to be found than insulation.


Otago Peninsula Royal Albatross Centre

Dunedin sits at the head of a magnificent harbour, and it provides a wonderful driving base to see the Otago Peninsula. The southern edge of the Otago Harbour provides a natural habitat for seals, sea lions and penguins. Take care with their homes and be rewarded with world-class eco-tourism just minutes from the city. The Peninsula has many beaches and spots to stop at, but make sure you drive all the way to the point before heading back. Just fifty minutes' scenic drive from the city takes you to Taiaroa Head and the Royal Albatross Colony, a breeding ground for this majestic bird. Tours and interactive displays take you into the work they do to protect the species - but the real highlight is to see one of these 3m wingspan birds in flight.

Albatross Website


Penguin Place

On the way back to town from the Royal Albatross centre on Harrington Point Rd is another conservation effort where your visit can help with preservation efforts. All tours at Penguin Place help to fund their work running a breeding program for the Yellow Eyed Penguin. They take you to covered trenches and observation points, giving you tips on how not to startle this shy, flightless bird. Yellow-Eyed Penguins love to play in the surf but are the one penguin that cannot be tamed, so this is your best chance to see them up close. With only 5-6000 left in the world efforts like these are vital.

Penguin Place Website




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