Dunedin is particularly known for its Scottish heritage, beautiful Victorian architecture and its large student (‘scarfie’) population. It is a city which is home to colonies of rare albatrosses, yellow-eyed penguins and New Zealand’s only ‘castle’, all located on a stunning peninsula. Dunedin has a huge range of fantastic cafes serving up delicious freshly baked food, awesome coffee and fluffy’s (babycino’s) for kids. It is also home to the Cadbury Chocolate factory!
This beautiful city just happens to be my home town where I was born and bred. We visit Dunedin quite frequently as some of my family and friends still live there. We love Dunedin for all it has to offer visitors and young families who live there. The following activities are those we loved doing, as a family on our most recent trip to Dunedin.
Take a walk back in time at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum
31 Queens Gardens, Dunedin.
Open 10am – 5pm daily except Christmas Day.
Admission is free. Charges may apply to special exhibitions.
Sit in the back of the Tiger Tea bus and go for a ‘ride’ back in time
A must-do when visiting Dunedin, my boys have never had so much fun at a museum and little did they know they were learning at the same time! Toitu is an interactive museum focussing on the people of Dunedin, starting from the earliest settlers.
My boys particularly enjoyed ‘riding’ on the old Tiger Tea bus and a tram which are parked in the museum. There is also the opportunity to ride a penny farthing bicycle and to go inside an early settlers home to make tea and to do the washing colonial style.
Throughout the museum we all enjoyed seeing household appliances from a bygone era. It is also worth looking out for organised activities on through the holiday periods.
Tip: You can combine your visit with a walk through the beautiful historic Railway Station located next to the Museum. Every Saturday morning the Otago Farmers Markets are held adjacent to the railway station where you can drop in for a coffee and a chance to try the amazing local produce.
Visit the talking birds at Dunedin Botanic Gardens
12 Opoho Road, North Dunedin, Dunedin.
Open dawn to dusk every day of the year.
Admission is free.
New Zealand’s first botanical garden is a lovely spot for the whole family to enjoy a walk, a picnic and a visit to the aviary located in the upper gardens. There are many birds to visit including some parrots, who if they are in a sociable mood, will speak back to you and dance!
There is a cafe, duck pond and children’s playground located in the lower gardens.
Learn through play at the Otago Museum, Discovery World and Tropical Forest
419 Great King Street, North Dunedin, Dunedin.
Open 10am – 5pm daily.
Admission to the museum is free. There is an admission fee to enter Discovery World, Tropical Forest and the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium.
See beautiful exotic butterflies in The Tropical Forest
With so much to see and do at the Otago Museum, it was easily one of the highlights of our trip to Dunedin.
The highlight of the museum itself was the Animal Attic which is a treasure trove of taxidermy, pinned insects and preserved animals. This is a historical space dating back to 1877 when the museum first opened its doors. I think the boys sensed the importance of this space and really enjoyed looking at all the animals and bugs, not to mention the amount they learnt from the visit to this attic. Another highlight for the boys was the 17 metre long juvenile fin white skeleton which almost fills the room, in the maritime section of the museum.
Discovery World is a hands on, play based educational space. My boys definitely got their money’s worth here and did not want to leave. Air Hockey was a favourite, as well as a magnetic ‘crane’ used to pick up and move metal pieces.
Feel the heat at The Tropical Forest which houses hundreds of beautiful exotic butterflies all flying around you. With tropical plants, ponds and a waterfall to walk under, you really do feel like you are miles away in a tropical paradise.
Walk up the steepest street in the world
Yes, you did read that correctly! The steepest residential street in the world is Baldwin Street in Dunedin. It attracts many tourists every day and is something you must add to your bucket list! Walking up Baldwin Street to the top is one of the things you have to say you have done when you visit Dunedin. My boys managed to easily walk up the steps to the top and back down again. My youngest still proudly informs everyone that “he had to do a wee at the top of the steepest street in the world!”!
Enjoy a game of mini golf and a miniature train ride
Wal’s Plant Land and Fun Land.
Bush Road, Mosgiel, Dunedin.
Open 9am – 5pm daily.
There is a fee for mini golf and a small donation for train rides.
Located in Mosgiel, a 20 minute drive south of Dunedin’s city centre is Wal’s Garden Centre. Every Sunday they have their miniature railway trains steaming along the track for kids and adults to enjoy! The spacious 18 hole mini golf course is heaps of fun for the whole family.
There is also a very popular cafe located here and the fresh food and coffee is fantastic. A great place for kids to try a ‘fluffy’ (warm frothy milk and chocolate) which comes with a New Zealand chocolate fish! Definitely worth stopping here on the way to Dunedin airport or if you are driving into Dunedin from the South.
Have a whole lot of bouncy fun at Inflatable World
93 Crawford Street, Dunedin Central.
There is an admission charge.
This awesome popular play centre offers so many options for play including climbing, jumping, sliding, shooting hoops and jousting. Dunedin’s weather can be unpredictable at times so it is good to have a few indoor play activities up your sleeve. With two separate play areas, including one for under 5’s, this is a great outing for kids of all ages.
There is a cafe on site for drinks and snacks. Seating is provided for parents to sit and relax, if you do not wish to join your children on the inflatable equipment!