The Otago Peninsula, stretches almost from the city on the southern side of the Otago harbour. Just a few minutes from the city centre will have you passing scenic bays and farmland.
The Otago Peninsula is one of New Zealand’s most renowned eco tourism areas and its most famous residents are the Royal albatross. At the tip of the peninsular is Taiaroa Headand and here you will find the only mainland breeding colony of albatross in the world.
The peninsular is also home to New Zealand’s only castle – Larnach Castle. This impressive building was constructed in 1871 and today is a hotel. There are many other noteworthy buildings including Fletcher House. The Peninsular offers plenty of things to see and a full day here is highly worthwhile.
The splendour of many of its public buildings reflects Dunedin’s economic and cultural pre-eminence in Victorian New Zealand. Today, Dunedin has a rightly deserved reputation as one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Architecturally outstanding is the massive stone Flemish Renaissance-style Dunedin Railway Station, built 1904 – 1906. The magnificent entrance steps to St Paul’s Cathedral in the Octagon are reminiscent of the old cathedrals of Europe, as are the imposing elevations of St Josephs Cathedral.
Within the city boundaries are numerous noteworthy gardens, from the formally laid out annual colour displays of the Dunedin Railway Station gardens, to the delightful private gardens owned by local residents. The Botanic Garden is famous for the Rhododendron Dell, its exotic beauty celebrated every year in the third week of October with the Rhododendron Festival. Glenfalloch Woodland Garden and Restaurant is a 30 acre harbour side garden featuring rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and fuchsias.
High among the rolling hills of the Peninsula is Larnach Castle, the grand home of an early politician. Construction of the castle began in 1871 and was completed 12 years later. You can stay overnight in one of the many rooms. From here, views out to sea and back towards the city emphasise the singular beauty of Dunedin and its jewel-like harbour.
The Otago Museum and Discovery World is renowned for its Maori and Pacific Island collections and its natural history displays. Discovery World Otago Museum is a hands on science centre, with many interactive exhibits and programmes. The Otago Settlers Museum features the social history of Otago, seeking to tell the stories of the people who have made Dunedin and Otago their home.
A visit to the Speights brewery is also considered a must while in Dunedin and if you have the time the Taieri Gorge Railway is spectacular.
The township of Wanaka sits on the shores of Lake Wanaka, the third largest of the southern lakes. The township has grown to accommodate the many summer visitors seeking to explore the area and the winter sports enthusiasts that flock to the ski fields of Treble Cone and Cardrona nearby. Its not just skiing though that attracts visitors here. with a hige choice of adventure activities available such as sky diving, rock climbing, gliding. jet boating and alpine walking Wanaka has a lot to offer. The compact town centre makes it very easy to walk around and explore the many shops, cafes and restaurants.
To the north west is Mount Aspriring National Park, part of the South West New Zealand World heritage Area and this region offers a wonderful mixture of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. It is a walker’s paradise and a must for mountaineers and there are plenty of experienced Alpine Guiding companies to escort you.
At the northern tip of Lake Wanaka is Makarora and here you can venture into the wilderness on a 20 minute walk. The Siberia Experience also departs from here and this 4 hour adventure starts with a 25 minute scenic flight followed by a 2 hour guided walk in the remote Siberia Valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park before returning to Makarora by jet boat.