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Nicknamed the “Edinburgh of the South”, Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. Though it’s only the country’s 7th largest city in population, it is considered to be one of the four main cities in New Zealand due to its unique and beautiful history, geography and culture.
Dunedin was first settled by Maori between 1250 and 1300 AD. Explorer James Cook arrived on the coast in 1770, with settlers arriving in the early 1800s and turning the area into an international sealing and whaling port. Many settlers were of Scottish descent – the name Dunedin is the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Dunedin became the capital of the Otago Province in 1852, and its population exploded in 1861 after the discovery of gold at Gabriel’s Gully.
Since then, the population has been steadily growing and Dunedin is now recognised as a historical NZ centre with a thriving tourist and manufacturing sector.
Home to New Zealand’s oldest university, the University of Otago, Dunedin has a large student population compared to the general population, with the “student culture” being a big focus in the city. You’ll never be short of students and people your age to talk to and get to know. As the University of Otago Language Centre is linked with the university, you’ll be able to take part in all sorts of activities and opportunities on offer.
Dunedin is full of beautiful, historic Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Larnach Castle is New Zealand’s only castle, now used for tours and sightseeing with accommodation and rooms available for weddings.The Barker family have spent over 40 years lovingly restoring the castle and 14 hectares of gardens and grounds. Made from luxurious materials from around the world and expensive native woods, this stunning castle is something you have to see to believe.
Keeping with historical beauty, the Dunedin Railway Station is also a must-visit. It’s the country’s most photographed building for a reason! The station now only has sight-seeing trains operating. The station building is home to a restaurant and the top floor is home to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and the Otago Art Society.
The Chinese Garden is a peaceful and spectacular place to visit. The garden is an authentic Chinese garden, one of only three outside of China. Many traditional Chinese construction methods were used in the garden and on the buildings, with much of the garden being pre-fabricated in Shanghai, before being dismantled, shipped and re-assembled in Dunedin.
Dunedin truly is home to a lot of unique buildings, festivals, animals and landscapes. A popular destination for both tourists and locals is Baldwin Street, officially the steepest street in the world. Certificates are issued to those who walk or run up and down it for the first time, and a yearly event is held where thousands of “Jaffas” (an orange candy coated chocolate ball) are rolled down the hill to raise money for charity.
The Jaffas, along with the rest of the Cadbury brand chocolate, are made at the Cadbury Factory right here in Dunedin. Take a tour through
- the factory to see the chocolate making process in action (while sampling a number of products!) and then marvel at the purple silo where a ton of liquid chocolate will fall before your eyes. Yum!
For those who love to be outside, Dunedin is a great place to be. Relax or swim at the beautiful St Kilda or St Clair beaches, walk the tracks around the city, take a nature tour and spot rare penguins, seals and birds, or bike on the many trails in the region. If you’re looking for a great challenge, ride all or some of the Otago Central Rail Trail – a 150 kilometre long walking, biking and horse riding trail along the route of the former Otago Central Railway.
Are you studying in Dunedin? We’d love to hear about your experiences in this wonderful city. Tell us about them in a comment below