Dunedin is often overlooked by visitors to New Zealand. However, this vibrant city well known for its Scottish heritage, beautiful colonial buildings and a lively student population, has much to offer to keep visitors busy for a few days.
New Zealand’s oldest city was first inhabited by the Maori around 1100AD followed by the Europeans in the 18th century. The city is modeled on Edinburgh in Scotland and Dunedin is derived from the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh : Dùn Èideann.
On my first trip to New Zealand more than a decade ago, I had to skip Dunedin due to time constraints. So for this trip, I made sure Dunedin is in my itinerary. As it was Saturday, we took the opportunity to check out The Otago Farmers Market (it takes place on Saturday mornings).
As we approached the Dunedin Railway Station car park, we caught whiff of cooked food and freshly brewed coffee. The market was already in full swing with shoppers stocking up fresh produce, fresh meat, seafood, cheese and homemade products such as breads, coffee and jams.
There are also food stalls offering a hearty meal to shoppers. Shoppers are also entertained by buskers.
From the market, we made our way to the railway station. This ornate sprawling building was built in 1903 in Flemish Renaissance style. It’s very well maintained and the grounds are a great place to relax on a nice sunny day.
The building interior is as impressive. The entire booking hall on the ground floor is covered with mosaic tiles forming the NZ Railway initials and trains. The spiral staircase in the building is still in its original structure with iron cast rails and mosaic tiles. Identical panels of stained glass windows adorned the wall on both the entrances.
A visit to Toitu Otago Settlers Museum is a must to learn the history and story of the city and its people. The well laid out museum has an impressive artefacts from the early days of Maori settlement to modern day gadgets and vehicles. There are plenty of touch screens and interactive materials too.
We spent a considerable time here to see all the exhibits. However one can also do it in several visits as admission to the museum is free.
The Octagon is the next stop. As the name suggest, The Octagon is an octagonal-shaped public place in the center of the city. On the way, we made a stop at First Church of Otago.
This neo-Gothic style Presbyterian church was opened in 1873. It’s 60 metre spire can be seen from various points in the city.
The stained glass, woodwork roof and rose window high above the pulpit create an atmosphere of peace inside the church.
Stay tuned…………………more to come.