Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand, Dunedin is the country's city of the south, wearing its Scottish heritage with pride. Further south is Invercargill, a city with plenty of character and a warm friendly heart, while just a ferry ride away is Stewart Island a haven for native bird life, including the native kiwi.
The city of Dunedin was built with the riches of the gold rush, consequently, it has one of the best collections of Edwardian and Victorian architecture in the southern hemisphere. Gothic church spires, ornate mansions, swathes of native forest and magnificent views of the harbour make Dunedin very memorable. It is also a designated UNESCO City of Literature and has its own Writer's Walk along with rare manuscripts at the Reed and de Beer Galleries. Alternatively, follow the Dunedin Street Art Trail, a 90 minute walk during which you experience 25 vibrant, whimsical artworks from international and local artists.
New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle, is an important and much loved piece of Dunedin history, which is around 20 minutes' drive from the centre. Built in 1871, it has been carefully restored to its original Victorian grandeur and its beautiful rooms and gardens are open year round. Another recommended excursion out of the city is the Taieri Gorge Railway, which takes passengers from the historic Dunedin Railway Station on a picturesque journey through the Central Otago hinterland. Additionally, only a few minutes' drive from Dunedin city centre are an array of fantastic beaches. St Claire is a popular surf beach, if you prefer to swim Brighton Beach is a beautiful choice while Long Beach has huge caves to explore. Also close by is the Otago Peninsula, a wildlife haven where you'll discover penguin and fur seal colonies.
New Zealand's southernmost city, Invercargill, is also home to Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco heritage buildings giving the city a charming old-world character. There's also an excellent range of shops and selection of lively bars and restaurants. Don't miss the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, soak up the beautiful surroundings of Queens Park, or perhaps enjoy a guided tour through the Invercargill Brewery.
A short ferry ride away is sub Antarctic Stewart Island. Remote and secluded, 85% of the island forms Rakiura National Park which boasts a thriving bird population of more than 100 bird species. Activities on the island include scenic walks, kayaking, fishing and golf, or perhaps take a glass bottom boat trip for a unique view of the amazing undersea life.
Wildlife, particularly birds, are perhaps the greatest attraction and as you explore you may be lucky enough to see the native kiwi in the wild. Other birds you may spy include tui, bellbirds, grey warblers, fantails, red-crowned parakeets, bush parrots and Stewart Island robins.
GMT +12 hours.
New Zealand dollar
Dunedin is around a 4 hour drive from Christchurch or just over an hour by air. Invercargill is a 1 hour 30 minutes flight from Christchurch or 5 hours drive. Ferries depart from Bluff for Stewart Island and take an hour.
While possible to visit Dunedin year round, the summer months of November to April tend to be the busiest and most popular. Invercargill and Stewart Island are also accessible throughout the year, with the warmest weather between December and March.