Dunedin Tourist Attractions
Dunedin (pop. 110,000), the economic and cultural capital of the south, lies in Otago Harbour, a natural harbor reaching far inland, surrounded by hills and mountains. Dun Edin is the Gaelic name for Edinburgh: the name is a reminder that the town was founded by Scottish immigrants, who originally thought of calling it New Edinburgh.In the prosperous Dunedin of the 19th C. imposing public buildings were built in stone, at a time when the usual building material in the rest of New Zealand was wood. Easily worked limestone was readily available in the Oamaru quarries.The town's well-to-do citizens built handsome terraced houses with columns, oriel windows and balconies. There are particularly fine examples in Stuart Street and the High Street.
Northwest of Bracken's Lookout are the Botanic Gardens (30ha), established in 1863. Old trees, both native and European, afford shade, and there is a wide range of New Zealand's flora, well tended and labeled. The gardens are at their most beautiful when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower (August to October).
1km northeast of the Octagon, is the Otago Museum, in a large and handsome building (1876 by David Ross). The museum's rich collections bear witness to the prosperity of Victorian Dunedin and the interest in self-improvement of its citizens, who presented their art treasures to the museum.There are five main departments: the culture of the Maoris and the Pacific area; the natural history of New Zealand; archaeology and ancient and classical civilizations; oceanography; and science and technology (with a science center for children, Discovery World).Discovery World offers hands-on experiments and engaging exhibits for visitors of all ages. A Tropical Forest awaits with live butterflies, hot-weather-happy inhabitants, and a lush garden.
University of Otago
The University of Otago, New Zealand's first university, was founded in 1869. The imposing neo-Gothic buildings (1878 onwards) on the little River Leith, north of the city center, were designed by Maxwell Bury, who took the University of Glasgow as his model. Particularly impressive features are the handsome clock tower, the main entrance and the staircase. The building in Castle Street is now occupied by the university administration. The first chancellor of the university was Thomas Burns, one of the founding fathers of Dunedin.Around the old buildings are various later-built buildings occupied by university faculties, including the Dental School, the only one in New Zealand. Here too are the professors' houses (1879), also designed by Maxwell Bury, built of red brick with contrasting white gable arches.
Address: Box 56, New Zealand
The Hocken Library was bequeathed to the city by the bibliophile Dr Thomasm Hocken in 1910 and has since been enlarged. The collection includes printed works, maps, pictures and manuscripts, mainly concerned with New Zealand and the south Pacific.
To the west of the Otago Museum, in the city's green belt, is the mansion of Olveston (1906), designed by the English architect Ernest George. Its first owner was David E Theomin, a businessman and art collector who came from Olveston, near Bristol, and settled in Dunedin in 1879.This sumptuous 35-room mansion in late Victorian style gives some impression of the way of life of the prosperous middle class in the early 20th C. The oak staircase and balustrade were made in England. There are numerous paintings illustrating many aspects of life in colonial New Zealand.
St Joseph's Cathedral
St Joseph's Cathedral (1878-86 by FW Petre; RC). The architect seems to have taken as his models the Gothic cathedrals of Amiens and Reims.Petre, who also designed large churches in Oamaru, Timaru, Invercargill, Wellington and Christchurch, was, along with the Scottish-born RA Lawson, who came to New Zealand by way of Australia, the leading architect working in Dunedin. His plan for the cathedral, with a tower over the crossing, proved to be too expensive. There were delays and cutbacks, and the original design was much modified.
St Dominic's Priory
St Dominic's Priory, designed by F. W. Petre (1877), is now privately owned.
Dunedin Art Gallery
The Dunedin Art Gallery, a few hundred meters east of the university in Logan Park, has a rich collection of early and modern New Zealand and European art. Of particular interest are numerous works by Frances Hodgkins, brought up in Dunedin, who achieved fame in London only late in life. Her father was one of the founders of the art gallery. The work of Colin McCahon is also well represented.
The Railway station is a massive fortress-like structure which dominates the scene. In Flemish Renaissance style, it was built in 1904-6 by George Troup. Though mocked for his 'gingerbread' architecture, the architect was knighted for his work. The interior is magnificent, with colonnades, balustrades and mosaic paving.
From this viewpoint, northwest of the art gallery, there is a good view of the city center. Thomas Bracken (1843-98) was a poet and politician who wrote the New Zealand national anthem God defend New Zealand.
Otago Settlers' Museum
The Otago Settlers' Museum contains much material from the town's early days, including many portraits of the Scottish founding families, and exhibits illustrating the town's technological achievements (street lighting, trams, railroad).
First Church of Otago
The First Church (1868-73 by RA Lawson) is a neo-Gothic building with a handsome tower. The foundation stone was laid by Thomas Burns, co-founder of the town.
The central feature of the city is the Octagon, an eight-sided square with a statue of Robert Burns erected in 1887. A market is held in the square on Fridays.
St Paul's Cathedral
The neo-Gothic St Paul's Cathedral (1915; Anglican) was built by the London architects Sedding and Wheatley. In the early years of the town, founded as it was by Scottish Presbyterians, there were practically no Anglicans, but as their numbers increased they built their first church in 1862. The wooden bell tower, intended to be only temporary, was built in 1910.
The Civic Centre contains the public library and the visitor information center. The library has a collection of books and documents that go back to the town's early days. The archives are often used by genealogists.
Seventh Day Adventist Church
The oldest Christian church in Dunedin is the former Congregational Church (1864 by David Ross). It was about to be demolished when it was acquired by the Seventh Day Adventists.
The Law Courts, designed by the government architect John Campbell, were built in 1902. Over the main entrance are the royal arms.
Cadbury Chocolate Factory
From the Octagon, Princes Street runs south. A street with a fashionable air, it has a number of notable buildings.
Southern Cross Hotel
The Southern Cross Hotel was built in 1883 and still retains its original splendor. Particularly fine are the entrance lobby with its impressive candelabra and the stucco-decorated rooms on the first floor.
Wain's Hotel is a luxury hotel opened in 1878. Notable features are the grotesques on the ground-floor windows.
The ANZ Bank occupies a building of 1874 designed by RA Lawson, which retains its neoclassical façade.
Bank of New Zealand
The Bank of New Zealand (1879-83 by William Armson) is in a richly decorated neo-Renaissance style. The banking hall has a magnificent ceiling.
The Scottish Week at the end of March maintains Scottish traditions, with bagpipes, highland dancing and sporting events.
Otago Agricultural and Pastoral Summer Show (A and P Show)
The Otago Agricultural and Pastoral Summer Show (popularly, the A and P Show) at the end of January has a full program of events. In the middle of February there is the week-long Dunedin Festival (exhibitions, concerts, parades, sporting events).
More Dunedin Pictures
Map of Dunedin Attractions