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The Octagon, Dunedin. Photo: Tourism Dunedin

When the chimes of the University of Otago’s clock tower toll, it’s the start of a new semester at New Zealand’s oldest university. Dunedin bursts with youth. Well-known as ‘Scarfies’, some 20,000 students add a special vibrancy to this city and contribute to its distinctive culture.

You too can experience Scarfie life – as to take part in the Scarfie experience doesn’t necessarily mean becoming one! Year-round there’s something on - from pub crawls through to market stalls, bands and hall competitions.

Catch a band at student haunts such as Refuel or stroll through the university grounds, trawl through second-hand shops for vintage treasures or visit North Dunedin’s iconic student flat streets. Loads of great bands have come out of Dunedin, many immortalized by indie label Flying Nun Records, which did much to popularize “the Dunedin Sound” in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Scarfies aside, the city of Dunedin has distinctive 19th century architecture. A legacy of the goldrush, many of its finest Victorian and Edwardian buildings are not museum pieces; rather, the city lives within them.

Take a step back in time in The Exchange - the city’s hub in the late 1800s - and see the old National Bank and BNZ Bank, and post office buildings nearby.

Visit the city’s historical buildings - Larnach Castle, Olveston, Fletcher House, Dunedin Railway Station and Speights Brewery - and soon you’ll see that although ‘Scarfies’ have the run of the town today, Dunedin’s early founders and traditions still stand proud on the cultural landscape.

Dunedin delights in its Scottish heritage: there are numerous fine pipe bands and highland dancers and a statue of Scottish bard, Robbie Burns, presides.


Where to stay

Dunedin Area

What to do

  • Step back in time at Larnach Castle
  • Discover the historic home and art collection at Olveston
  • Explore the region’s history at the Otago Settlers’ Museum
  • See yellow-eyed penguins on the Otago Peninsula
  • Visit the Royal Albatross Colony at Taiaroa Head
  • Spend a day at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery
  • Down some local beers while listening to a band

More info

www.dunedinnz.com - for more info on Dunedin
www.otago.settlers.museum - Otago Settlers Museum
www.olveston.co.nz - Olveston
www.dunedin.art.museum - Dunedin Public Art Gallery
www.albatross.org.nz - Royal Albatross Colony
www.undertheradar.co.nz - Dunedin Gig Guide

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Getting there

  • From Invercargill by road: 217km
  • From Christchurch by road: 362km
Piwa perched