Lifestyle

Urban beauty around every corner in Dunedin

The portrait room of the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin.
The portrait room of the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin. Adam Hourigan

FROM the first moments within Dunedin's city centre, it is obvious the historic location has taken the best of its past and transformed it into a vibrant urban environment.

It starts at one of the newest hotels in the city centre. The Distinction Dunedin is a 4.5-star hotel that has reclaimed the historic shell of the 1937 Chief Post Office and turned it into a luxurious and modern spot in which to base your stay.

And while the stay may be modern, the old-fashioned service is evident at every turn. The staff seemingly know every guest's name as they pass with a friendly welcome, and with a full restaurant and bar downstairs, it provides the launching-pad for adventures in the city.

 

The Distinction Hotel in Dunedin.
The Distinction Hotel in Dunedin. Adam Hourigan

Take a walk outside, and Dunedin's character becomes evident. The many alleys and side streets of the city often contain funky artwork by international artists.

Make your way to the i-Site visitor centre in Dunedin's Octagon, an eight-sided plaza in the city centre, and book a tour. A tour map guides visitors to 28 artworks, some in plain sight and others more hidden in the city's warehouse district.

On your way, there's another hidden gem near one of the art walls, and if you're a bit peckish from walking around, a visit to the Vogel St Kitchen will fill you up.

 

The inside of popular Dunedin cafe Vogel St Kitchen.
The inside of popular Dunedin cafe Vogel St Kitchen. Adam Hourigan

In a location not obvious enough to worry the most ardent hipster, the funky decor inside is matched by a cool soundtrack of the Beatles and other retro tunes.

At its heart, though, is a thoroughly modern menu that includes cafe favourites and, later on, some artisan pizzas that leave the traditional Hawaiian for dead. The coffee is good, but if you're looking for some decadence, their hot chocolate is divine.

Wander back towards the centre of town, and Dunedin's attention to its historic detail is evident in every building. Facades intact, the intricate architecture of its past is still maintained as a wonderful reference point.

Back in the centre of town, the Octagon is buzzing. Fellow tourists from the many cruise ships that come through the harbour each day join you in starting one of many adventures in the city, and markets show off a range of local goods in the courtyard. From here, take a short walk in any direction to discover more of what Dunedin has to offer.

If it is shopping, it is only a block away and even if you have driven a hire car, the parking is readily available around the major shopping centres. With local and international fashion designers in the two local malls, as well as a number of boutiques, vintage ranges and jewellery on display, there are a number of options for fashionistas.

 

The history of Dunedin has been preserved in its CBD buildings.
The history of Dunedin has been preserved in its CBD buildings. Adam Hourigan

 

Street art is around every corner as part of the Dunedin CBD art walks.
Street art is around every corner as part of the Dunedin CBD art walks. Adam Hourigan

Take a walk one block in the other direction, and Dunedin's history comes to the fore again with its immaculate railway station. One of the most photographed parts of Dunedin, the immaculately restored operational station has ornate gardens as you wander through the front, to delicate mosaic patterned floors inside. The local historical society even gets in on the act, with many dressing in period costume, and posing with an endless stream of tourists keen to capture Dunedin's historic evidence.

A quick walk down the platform leads to the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, where again a modern front leads into a building that holds more than 100,000 pieces of Dunedin's history, from before European settlement to the present. The portrait room is a highlight, with faces of Dunedin's past staring from all four corners of a room towards the centre, where computer terminals catalogue every picture and tell their story.

Take a walk to the other side of the railway station, and if there on a Saturday, the Otago Farmers Markets bring the locals and tourists alike to show off the best in local produce. And while the food is fresh and amazing, there are only two words that linger on the mouth after a tour. Bacon butty.

 

The Otago markets are a great place for everything food in Dunedin.
The Otago markets are a great place for everything food in Dunedin. Adam Hourigan

It's a simple sandwich of perfectly cooked bacon between two slices of bread, but the word has spread far and wide to its pork-based perfection, and what started as a simple market stall staple in 2002, has spread to events all over the city; even a stand-alone shop across the railway lines.

Topics:  city dunedin explore new zealand travel urban visit-dunedin



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