A Weekend In The Life Of A Backpacker: Dunedin

by Insiders Dunedin

Off the beaten backpacker trail on the southern east coast is the quaint, vivacious city of Dunedin.  The fact that most people skip out on this Scottish inspired burgh is quite shocking once you get to know all that this little, thriving city has to offer.  We are here to tell you exactly why Dunedin needs to be not only added to the trail, but should be considered a serious contender for your travel love and affection while exploring New Zealand.

Friday Night

Our fun filled weekend started off with shots fired at The PoolHouse Cafe & Bar.  Tables are $10 an hour with a fully licensed bar.  Filled with locals and travellers alike, it can get quite packed on weekends and can fit into any and all budgets.


Rise n’ shine early and beat the crowds to The Otago Farmers Market.  This little get together of local farmers, bakers, coffee curators, butchers and much more have lots to offer.  Make sure to try a handmade savory pie from Who Ate All The Pies and a sweet treat from The Tart Tin Boutique BakeHouse for one of the best from scratch treats you will find in New Zealand, trust us we’ve been searching.  Being Americans, we love us some iced coffee, which is done a little differently back home and can be hard to find here, but Harpoon Cold Brew came to our rescue with some of the most delicious cold coffee we have had in ages.  Harpoon is also brewed locally in Dunedin so sipping a cup of this chilled joe will be supporting local too, which we can totally jam on.  Did we mention that the Farmer’s Market is held right next to Dunedin’s famous train station?  Make sure to take a stroll through before or after you grab your goodies.  Walking through the station’s doors make you feel like stepping back in time, with mosaic floors and a train theme throughout the rest of the artwork in the booking hall.  There is also a free art gallery upstairs not to be missed.

Now that you are energized from your mini feast from the Otago Farmers Market and prepped for your lunch, make sure to book a tour with Victoria from Small City Big Walls otherwise known as the Dunedin Street Art Walking Tour.  If one thing exudes out of Victoria it is her passion, passion for street art, passion for Dunedin and passion for the artists that create these amazing murals around this eclectic, little city.  Besides taking you to see the huge paintings from artists like Phlegm and Pixel Pancho, Victoria will show and teach you about the different types of street art that can be found in the nooks and crannies of Dunedin’s alleys and back lanes.  Having been to every wall’s creation, this street art fanatic will tell you the history of the artist’s art, how it relates to Dunedin and how these different artists go about creating their work.  If you choose to do anything while hanging out in Dunedin this walking tour is a must!

Meet Victoria on Bath Street by the Tuatara at 10:30 for a 2 hour tour. (Book Ahead)

Bring your lunch from the Farmers Market and hit up Dunedin’s outstanding Botanical Garden.  Not only is this place totally free to the public, but you feel like you are wandering through different parts of the world in this one well-manicured park.  Check out the Peter Pan statues by the rock garden, walk through the cedars of Lebanon on your way to the aviary that houses rescued and endangered species from around the world.  This is the perfect place to have your picnic, lounge in the sun and go for a light stroll.

12 Opoho Rd, North Dunedin

Did you know that Dunedin has shattered a Guinness Book World Record?  Well, it has and it’s known as Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest residential street.  Only 350 meters long and lined with lots of short, little steps that make climbing easy, Baldwin Street is a quick and fun check off the bucket list.  Lined with cute residential houses, Baldwin Street has a bench and mural to sit down and admire the view in at the top.

Looking for a night out? Hit up The Octagon, the epicenter of Dunedin for any and all your nightlife needs.  There are sports bars, whiskey bars, night clubs and lounges. Take your pick for the type of night you want out or hop in and hop out of a plethora of places.


The coffee scene is taken very seriously in this neck of the country and there is no better way to start your early Sunday morning off than with a cup of joe from the famousMorning Magpie Cafe.  What happens when you already have a successful coffee shop but need a place to roast your coffee? You open another cafe and do the roasting in the bigger space. Wolf At The Door.  This is exactly what Troy Butler, owner of Morning Magpie, did and the result is Wolf At The Door, one funky place to sip on some java to kick start your day.  Grab a comic and a flat white and get ready for your adventures to begin.

Worth the walk at 6 Carroll Street

After you perk up at Wolf At The Door, pack a lunch and head out to The Otago Peninsula.  When you hit the walking trails you will understand why CNN put it on their Top 10 Places to Propose On Valentine’s Day.  Green grass cascades down to black rock cliffs that drop straight down into cerulean blue waves where land meets sea.  Ocean mist gives the distant coast line an eerie appearance that just adds to the romance.  The Chasm, Lovers Leap and Sandfly Beach, also known as the Sandymount Track Network, can all be done in a 3-4 hour loop or you can do them individually.  Make sure to bring lots of water since the hike back up from the beach can be quite trying but the views and the animal life make it all worth it.

Carpark is at the end of SandyMount Road

After working up a sweat on the peninsula, head to St. Clair Hot Salt Water Pool in the summer season.  This public pool overlooks St. Clair Beach and you can watch the surfers catch waves as you relax, enjoy the sun and take a dip in this heated bath.  There are lanes for swimming laps, a concession with hot and cold drinks and light snacks, showers, changing rooms and cubbies by the pool to put your bags in.  Head up to the top deck for outstanding views. For only $6.20 this will be the perfect spot to rest your weary bones after your trek on the trails and cool off.

Esplanade, St. Clair

This weekend just scratched the tip of all that Dunedin has to offer.  This vibrant city is filled with gorgeous architecture, outstanding views, museums to your heart’s content, galleries, old school record shops, book stores and vintage shopping to explore and experience. Now that the word is out you better get here before all the crowds do!

Post submitted by The Travelin Chicks



Submit A Comment