Guide12 Hours Dunedin
Dunedin, which is Celtic for Edinburgh, is the fifth largest city in the world in terms of geographical size. Home to the University of Otago, the only breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross, the steepest street in the world, the only authentic Chinese garden in the Southern Hemisphere, the first public art gallery in the country, and more, ‘Dunners’ is a spectacular city. With friendly people and food and drink that showcases the very best of what the bountiful region has to offer, you'll find yourself wishing you had more time.
Your guide to the best things to do in Dunedin
While this 12 hour guide can’t possibly cover all the things to do in Ōtepoti Dunedin, it will give you a great overview of the history and culture found here, with plenty of stops for food and drink along the way!
9am: Breakfast at Morning Magpie
46 Stuart Street, Dunedin Central
Fuel up for the day at Morning Magpie on Lower Stuart Street to the east of the Octagon. It’s the kind of place that serves ridiculously good coffee, food and organic juices. The menu is bursting with colour and flavour and kimchi scrambled eggs with lemon rocket and pickled portabellos, is not to be missed. The cabinet features a range of delectable baking like Magpie’s famous cinnamon pinwheel.
10am: Morning City Stroll
The Octagon, Dunedin
Find your orientation in Dunedin by taking a morning city walk. Make St Paul's Cathedral your first stop. The building stands in the heart of The Octogan and is an impressive gothic-style stone cathedral worth exploring. From there take the short sojourn to Queens Gardens, and onto Lan Yuan Dunedin Chinese Garden, a truly unexpected delight. The gardens at Lan Yuan are an authentic example of a late Ming/early Ching Dynasty Scholar's Garden and celebrates Otago's Chinese heritage.
11.00am: The Tart Tin treat
42 Queens Gardens, Dunedin Central
Make a short intermission during your Queens Garden stroll by calling into The Tart Tin and to see what all the fuss is about. Office workers, tourists, travellers and locals alike queue up as soon as the doors open. From there the flow remains steady until the cabinet is bare. Yes, The Tart Tin sells out daily. We recommend grabbing a treat or two (one for now, one for later) before they're all gone.
12.00pm: Explore the Warehouse Precinct
Warehouse Precinct, Dunedin
Wandering through the Warehouse Precinct’s streets and alleyways reveal some incredible gems. Art and architecture, boutique stores, street art and sculpture, sit alongside one another like old friends. The layers of history here show how the city has evolved from its industrial roots. While you're in the precinct, it'd be remiss not to swing by Dead Soul Books for a wee browse and The Daily Coffee Co. if you need a coffee hit.
1pm: Lunch at Side-On
326 Moray Place, Dunedin Central
For lunch step inside Side-on on Moray Place and be instantly immersed into the vibey, calming atmosphere that’s marked by light natural wood, soft pink walls and the quiet hum of their fully operational bakery. With its laid back energy, it’s the perfect spot for a midday pause. Side-on offers a full menu with items like the halloumi with fried cauliflower, watercress, cream cheese, pumpkin seeds, pickles and curry vinaigrette on toast. It's as delicious as it sounds.
2.00pm: Vintage shopping at Two Squirrels Vintage
91 Stuart Street, Dunedin Central
Two Squirrels Vintage Emporium stocks the best of old and new clothing and accessories and is a destination for retail therapy you can feel good about. Owners Vanessa and Warren have been in the vintage game for over fifteen years. Their collection is curated and high quality, full of one-off gems you can’t find anywhere else. New Zealand made products compliment the vintage pieces perfectly, with items like Lamington’s merino socks, Lazybones headbands, and McKinlay’s shoes which are made just down the street in south Dunedin.
2.30pm: Culture at Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery
61 Royal Terrace, Dunedin Central
Now it is the time to head to Royal Terrace for a visit to The Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery (note: the museum is a little out of the city centre so either grab a rideshare or bus). Enter the old villa and be immersed in a world of fossils, relics, tribal art, masks, animal skeletons, and other artefacts. The museum is local artist Bruce Mahalski’s ‘greatest work’, and the man himself is often available to share the curious, humorous and ever-intriguing stories that sit behind each piece in the collection. DMNM makes childhood tales of larger than life fossil hunters, palaeontologists, adventurers, explorers, and ghost chasers come alive. It’s a place to play and explore science at your own pace, in a way that’s fun and totally unique.
3.30pm: Shopping for NZ fashion down George Street
Take a stroll down George Street and discover Dunedin’s fast paced fashion scene. At Company of Strangers you’ll find unique and modern clothing and jewellry and a genuine commitment to New Zealand made and manufactured goods.
Pop into Charmaine Revely to explore the racks of delicious fabrics and the dresses which have defined this home grown Dunedin brand - you can even inquire about custom designs for your next event.
Don’t miss Plume, home of famous NZ brand NOM*D, either. The super cool heritage fit out is home to original designs from the dark and witty brand that put NZ fashion on the map in 1999.
Pre-dinner drinks at Albar
135 Stuart Street, Dunedin Central
You’ve had a full day in Dunedin and now it’s time to relax. Kick off the evening with a pint at locals favourite, Albar. The most subtly Scottish pub this side of the equator, this is a buzzing social hub for many. With Emerson’s on tap, it's easy to make a beverage choice. Emerson’s brewery will always launch a new or limited edition beer from Albar first so keep an eye out for one of those.
7pm: Dinner at Moiety
42 Queens Gardens, Dunedin Central
Moiety earned a Cuisine Good Food Awards hat in 2019 with their five-course dinner menu which is built upon local ingredients sourced from Otago’s best farmers, fishermen, foragers, and artisanal producers. While that first line might have you thinking Moiety is an uppity fine dining establishment, we’re pleased to report it’s anything but. The menu is short and sweet, starts with a few snack options and then briefly lists the main components of each course. Expect exciting dishes at Moiety; flavourful, colourful, delicious representations of the region and the stories that accompany them, go out with every plate.
9pm: Nightcap at Woof!
368 Moray Place (corner Lower, Stuart Street, Dunedin Central
Wrap up your Ōtepoti adventure with a nightcap at Woof. This lovable spot comes with the comfort of a diner, the welcoming atmosphere of a pub, and the late-night appeal of a cocktail lounge. The cocktail list is large and includes monthly specials and creative concoctions in addition to all of the classics. Give yourself a few minutes with the menu and discover tasty drops akin to past specials like the ‘Honey Bee’ made with Bacardi rum, freshly squeezed orange and lemon, and Arataki honey. The non-alcoholic cocktail list is one of the most robust we’ve found and also delivers on taste and creativity.