Overview of Dunedin

My first month in New Zealand has been pretty hectic and I’m starting to learn more about the culture which is great. 

In Dunedin there are a number of cool things to do. First there are all the touristy things like take a tour of the Cadbury factory, Speight’s Brewery, a visit to the tropical indoor rainforest at the Otago Museum or the Moeraki Boulders or to one of the many nearby beaches for a spot of penguin-watching.

Then there are classes and workshops aimed at students, from African drumming to Japanese sword fighting. For a more Kiwi experience you could join a Maori language class, take up flax weaving or bone carving.

The main street in the town is George Street. At the start of George Street (the end closest to campus) you are spoilt for choice if you like Asian food. I especially recommend a Thai Restaurant called Thai Over, but also check out Indian Spice in the Meridian Mall food court for a great curry and at a very reasonable price too ($13 for a korma, gralic nan and bottle of coke – that’s less than 6 pounds!).

Dancing seems to be a popular social thing in Dunedin with as much men going to salsa classes as women so living in the town gives you the perfect opportunity to learn!

Most bars are situated around the Octagon, but drinks are quite expensive. My favourite one for environment and decor is definitely Pequeno, but Metro is not bad either and more reasonably priced. The Bog is an Irish Bar and the Rabbie Burns is a Scottish bar, but The Rabbie Burns seems to cater for the older clientele, they have free Jazz on Thursday evenings if you like that sort of thing. Another Scottish bar, The Scotia, has won awards for the large selection of whisky on offer. There’s a great pool bar opposite the town hall. If you’re feeling lucky, there is also a casino where George Steet and Princes Street meet (on the main street in town).

Life is pretty laid back here, that comes with advantages and disadvantages. Political correctness is much less prevalent than in the UK which makes for some amusing moments. An ad on the back of a bus selling holidays read “Bugger off for bugger all”, which is tame compared to daytime TV. There doesn’t seem to be any watersheds and swearing on TV in the morning is not unusual, apparently the word w***er was said on a breakfast programme recently. The laid back culture also means that policies and rules are not rigidly enforced, and if you feel hard done by as a customer here, don’t bother trying to complain – it’s a waste of time and you won’t win. The customer is not always right in Dunedin.

If you drink coffee, then it is neccessary to invest in a plunger. You won’t get much instant here, but that’s good, the coffee is much better when done in a plunger, I’ve been converted. There’s no shortage of coffee shops either. Apart from the token Starbucks, the rest are independent places. I especially like Modak’s Espresso and Delicacy which is up the hill and a bit of town. Also Fix It is supposed to be a great take-away coffee place, and Fluid is meant to be worth going to too, although I’ve never tried them. If you have transport, make a trip to the esplonade at St. Clair Beach where there is a great coffee shop called Starfish, some say the best in Dunedin. If you’re a vegetarian, you might need to be a bit ‘flexible’. New Zealand is a very meat and seafood-oriented country. Fishing and shooting are very popular pastimes amongst locals. Circadian Rhythym cafe is the main vegetarian hang-out with often live entertainment too.

Anytime that I miss that famous Scottish delicacy, fish ‘n’ chips (lol), I go to Squiddy’s for my tea. It’s just down from the uni library and does THE BEST fish ‘n’ chips in Dunedin in my opinion! Battered blue cod sprinkled with lemon and pepper….. mmmmm! It’s enough to cause any veggie to fall off the wagon!

There is a huge Pacific Island and Asian influence in Dunedin (good news for foodies). Although there seems to be political tension between Maori and Kiwi’s of European descent in New Zealand, all cultures and ethnicities manage to live side-by-side in Dunedin. Most crime is actually committed by international students who come to party (there was an infamous Toga party here last year which was very destructive and resulted in students being expelled), or during the Undie-500 weekend.

Everyone runs in Dunedin and it definitely beats the treadmill at the gym. If you enjoy hiking, tramping, walking or running, invest in a book called From Sea to Silver Peaks – a comprehensive guide to tracks around Dunedin with easy-to-follow directions. I run for about 5 km and find the tracks around Ross Creek very pleasant. The Botanic Gardens are impressive and worth checking out, especially in October when all the rhododendrons are in bloom. There’s a nice aviary at the top too with Kea, Kaka and other birds.

The following website I found is a really useful reference guide to Dunedin: http://www.dunedinnz.com/Home/VisitorInformation/tabid/240/language/en-GB/Default.aspx

Beware! After the exams in December, very few students hang around. They go home or go travelling. As a result, the place becomes a ghost town during the NZ summer (Dec-Feb) and because of this, many coffee shops (i.e. Fluid), cafes (i.e. Squiddy’s fish ‘n’ chip shop) and bars (K-World karaoke bar) will readily close up for 3 months until the students return, so unless you have any particular reason to stay in Dunedin this is the best time to go exploring further afield.

  • Mount Cargill – highest point in dunedin
  • Fleur’s restuarant – one of NZ’s best restaurants
  • Jaffa race
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