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Top five things to do in Dunedin

Our first week on the road included two days in Dunedin. Windy, rainy, hilly, sunny, beautiful, hilly, Dunedin. We thought we would share with you our top five free activities and the best time of day for each of them!

1. Sunrise at the Old St Clair Jetty (low tide best)

Iconic but beautiful. St Clair Beach boasts an old jetty – a beautiful place to watch the sunrise between the old weathered piles. When we were there (end of January) there was only one other man snapping pictures of the jetty (and probably getting quite frustrated with the two of us running around and leaping like a bunch of prats!). Incredible that locations like this are still so quiet. I guess that’s NZ for you.


  • During the summer months (Dec - Feb) is the best time of year for the sunrise here, otherwise you could try a reverse sunset in the winter! As the piles are facing South (almost perfectly), the sun never lines up with the jetty exactly. Also make sure to time your visit for low tide – otherwise the piles can be quite submerged.

  • We think a Milkyway shot here would be pretty epic too (but slightly colder!). If you want to do this, the best time would be the middle of the year, and again would need to be planned to coincide with low tide!

2. Tunnel Beach (low tide best)

Mind-blowing rugged Otago coast. The erosion here is something else and you can spend hours just marvelling at the incredible cliff faces. You can only visit the best part of Tunnel Beach two hours either side of low tide (this is so you can safely get out onto the point where we walked – if the tide is any higher the waves can come crashing up – pretty scary!!). We came early in the morning (about 7:30am) and the morning light was seriously gorgeous. If we had our time again, we would try and come straight after sunrise (6:30am-ish) to see the first rays light up the peninsula.

3. Sandymount 2km walk

A short walk that basically says “how much diverse scenery can I fit in 2km”. Waves crashing on the picturesque beaches below, views of the peninsula in every direction, lush rolling hills, farmland dotted with merinos, dramatic carved chasms and dark tunnels formed by overhanging trees. Every part of this walk had us pointing at different directions and snapping photos. Note - the walk takes you through private property (farmland) so make sure you stick to the track!


  • We did the walk clockwise, but would recommend doing it anticlockwise so you finish with what we considered to be the best scenery (the chasm, lovers leap etc.). Plus that way you’ll also avoid the sandy uphill section (a bit of a tough slog!).

  • There are a couple of benches back at the car-park too – so pack dinner and sit back, relax and admire the view in front of you. You won’t be disappointed.

4. Sunset on the Otago Peninsula

Coming from Christchurch I consider Banks Peninsula to be pretty spectacular but even I was left speechless by the Otago Peninsula. It seemed so rugged, hard and rough and yet somehow still so beautiful, calming and gentle. We really wanted to do the drive overlooking Wickliffe Bay but gale force winds and Vinnie’s ineptitude for hills had other plans. Fortunately on our second night, the sky cleared and we managed to get a beautiful clear view over the peninsula as the sun was going down.

Note – summer in NZ means one day you might be wearing a beanie and gloves, your teeth chattering with the 8degree weather and the next you’ll be sweating in your togs with 30degrees. I don’t get it either.

5. Explore Doctors Point

You know when you were a kid and you used to spend hours upon hours piling rocks together and building dams at the beach? And you just couldn’t wait to show your parents. To show the kids next to you? To show the couple sunbathing. To show anyone? Or you went off exploring caves – so excited at the prospect of what you might find. Doctors Point is pretty much the place to come and do this. Play. Play and spend the day. And not just if you’re a kid. We had some rather gloomy weather when we rocked up, but enjoyed Doctors Point nonetheless (and we know how much weather can make or break a place!!).

6. Bonus activity – roll Jaffas down Baldwin Street

The steepest street in the world with a 35% gradient. 35%! Seriously, take a minute to reflect on that. The Kiwi thing to do here is grab a pack of Jaffas (no other lollies will do!) and walk up the top and have a race rolling them down. Sadly as James is an Australian, I couldn’t bear the thought of doing this with him. Haha. Just kidding – as we got to Baldwin Street the rain started pouring pretty heavily and I couldn’t bear the thought of wet Jaffas.

What are your favourite things to do in Dunedin? Have you eaten wet jaffas? Are they as sad as I am thinking they are?

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