Planning a Trip
By Plane -- Freedom Air International (tel. 0800/600-505 in NZ; www.freedomair.com), has daily flights between Dunedin and Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Air New Zealand, at the corner of The Octagon and Princes Street (tel. 0800/737-000 in NZ, or 03/479-6594; www.airnewzealand.com), provides service between Dunedin and Auckland, Wellington, and Rotorua in the North Island, and Christchurch and Invercargill in the South Island. Stewart Island Flights (tel. 03/218-9129; www.stewartislandflights.com) has flights to and from Stewart Island on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.
The Dunedin airport is inconveniently placed 40 minutes out of the city, and taxis charge approximately NZ$60 (US$43/£22) for the trip into town. You'd be well advised to take one of the shuttles that run to the city at regular intervals. The Dunedin Taxis Airport Shuttle (tel. 0800/505-010 or 03/477-7777) charges around NZ$25 (US$18/£9) to most parts of Central City. City Taxis (tel. 03/477-1771) offers a fixed fare service from the airport.
By Coach (Bus) -- InterCity (tel. 09/913-6100) provides coach service between Dunedin and Christchurch, Invercargill, Picton, Queenstown, Te Anau, and Timaru. The bus terminal is at 205 St. Andrew St. (tel. 03/477-8860). Bottom Bus, The Octagon (tel. 0800/304-333 in NZ, or 03/437-0753; www.bottombus.co.nz), has a full 7-day Southern Safari, which includes accommodation and a Milford Sound Cruise for NZ$699 (US$496/£252). It offers discounts to travelers with YHA, VIP, and BBH backpacker cards.
By Car -- Dunedin can be reached via state highways 1 and 87. It is 366km (227 miles) and approximately 5 hours' drive south of Christchurch; 220km (136 miles) and approximately 3 to 4 hours northeast of Invercargill; and 4 hours from Queenstown inland through Central Otago. The Southern Scenic Route from Invercargill is another alternative. It passes through the forested coastal Catlins area and is well worth the slight diversion from State Highway 1.
All good cities have a heart, and Dunedin is no exception. Rather than a square, though, it has a tree-lined octagon, which acts as a central meeting place. This is where you'll find the visitor center, bus terminals, the main art gallery, and a host of cafes and bars. It boasts a statue of Scotland's beloved poet, Robert Burns (whose nephew was Dunedin's first pastor), grassy areas under trees, and a giant chessboard. The Octagon divides the city's main street into George Street to the north and Princes Street to the south. A popular shopping area is to be found in the George Street section. The city center is at the head of Otago Harbour, and is encircled by a 200-hectare (500-acre) strip of land, the Green Belt.
By Bus -- Most city buses (tel. 0800/474-082 in NZ) leave from the vicinity of The Octagon. Four different companies provide service for the same prices, but all use different numbering systems and do different city runs. Your best bet is to get bus timetables from the visitor center on The Octagon or check www.orc.govt.nz. There is frequent service during the week, but it's a little spotty on weekends. The fares are by zone and range from NZ$1.50 to NZ$5 (US$1.05-US$3.55/55p-£1.80) per section.
By Taxi -- Taxi stands can be found at The Octagon, at all terminals, and near the Chief Post Office. Or call Dunedin Taxis (tel. 03/477-7777) or City Taxis (tel. 03/477-1771).
By Car -- Once you familiarize yourself with the one-way systems and the interrupted street pattern around The Octagon, Dunedin is easy to negotiate. Most central streets have metered parking, and there's a municipal parking building near City Hall and a car park in the Meridian Shopping Centre.
The Dunedin i-SITE Visitor Centre, 48 The Octagon (tel. 03/474-3300; fax 03/474-3311; www.cityofdunedin.com or www.dunedinnz.com), is set in the magnificently restored Municipal Chambers. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5pm, and Saturday, Sunday, and holidays from 9am to 5:30pm. In summer, the office remains open until 6pm. You can also contact Tourism Dunedin, 193 Princes St. (tel. 03/471-8042; fax 03/471-8021; www.dunedinnz.com).
Dunedin has an all-year program of festivals and events. To find out about them, check at the visitor center.
The Dunedin Festival Fortnight in February and March presents themed weekends, exhibitions, outdoor concerts, family activities, and sporting and cultural events. At the same time is the id Dunedin Fashion Show (www.id-dunedinfashion.com), where the city's many designers showcase their work on the Dunedin Railway Platform in front of international media. In early March, you can taste the best of the region at Taste Otago, when restaurants, food producers, winemakers, and breweries set up in Woodlaugh Gardens for a weekend of indulgence. To see the city at its most Scottish, time your visit to coincide with Scottish Week, in mid-March, when there are daily concerts, Highland and Scottish dancing, pipe bands, and more than likely a spot of haggis making.
In May, the Regent Theatre 24-Hour Book Sale (tel. 03/477-6481), offers up over 300,000 volumes in the country's largest sale of secondhand books. It all started as a way to raise funds for the theater's restoration, and it's become a successful, established event filled with fun, live entertainment, and great bargains. In the third week of October, Dunedin Rhododendron Festival celebrates the exotic beauty of Dunedin's most famous flower. A happy combination of soil and climate makes the city one of the finest rhododendron-growing areas in the world. More information about Rhododendron Week and its private garden tours is available by calling tel. 03/467-7241 or going to www.cityofdunedin.com.
Scottish Roots -- Dunedin is the ancient Gaelic name of Edinburgh in Scotland, and Otago University, the oldest in New Zealand, was modeled after Glasgow University.