Dunedin & Coastal Otago

Scottish but sunny

Dunedin & Coastal Otago

Scottish but sunny

With an unmistakable Scottish heritage, Dunedin, New Zealand’s first city, is rich with history, culture and, thanks to its student population, energy. But it’s not all about the city. Outdoor adventurers will also be spoilt for choice when visiting this ‘Edinburgh of the South’.

Dunedin region marker

To the east of the city is the Otago Peninsula, a popular spot for outdoor recreation, filled with wildlife, beaches and stunning scenery. On the peninsula and around the city there are numerous walking and mountain biking tracks. Of course, where there are beaches, there’s surfing and, thanks to the shape of the peninsula and the surrounding coastline, there’s almost never a day without an offshore somewhere.

Here are approximate travel times and distances to and from Dunedin.

Drive times

  • Christchurch to Dunedin: 360 km / 224 miles – 5 hours
  • Queenstown to Dunedin (via Alexandra): 280 km / 174 miles – 3 hours 40 minutes
  • Wanaka to Dunedin (via Roxburgh): 270 km / 168 miles – 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Dunedin to Moeraki: 76 km / 47 miles – 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Dunedin to Balclutha: 80 km / 50 miles – 1 hour
  • Dunedin to Invercargill: 205 km / 127 miles – 3 hours
  • Dunedin to Te Anau (for Milford Sound): 290 km / 180 miles – 3 hours 40 minutes

Travel times can vary significantly, particularly in popular areas during peak visitor months (December – February). For current travel times and updates on delays, roadworks and road closures, use the NZ Transport Agency journey planner before travelling. It’s always a good idea to allow extra time for photo stops and, when travelling longer distances, rest stops.

Dunedin is the nearest airport, approximately 1 hour from Balclutha.

  • Auckland (AKL) to Dunedin (DUD): 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Wellington (WLG) to Dunedin (DUD): 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Christchurch (CHC) to Dunedin (DUD): 1 hour 5 minutes

There is also a limited service between Dunedin and Brisbane Australia, provided by Virgin Australia. Check the Dunedin Airport website for more details.

Dunedin has a temperate coastal climate that’s moderated by the ocean. That said, this far south, temperatures are noticeably cooler than regions further north along the east coast. While summer (December – February) temperatures do reach the mid 20s centigrade, the average high is just 18 °C / 64.4 °F and the average low is 11 °C / 51.8 °F.

Winters (June – August) are cool but relatively mild with an average high of 10 °C / 50 °F and an average low of 4 °C / 39.2 °F. There is some frost in winter and, very occasionally, light snow but that seldom stays around for long.

Check current conditions and get the latest Dunedin weather forecasts on MetService.com.

While there’s not much you can do about the weather once you’re here, it’s worth knowing what to expect at different times of the year and in different parts of the country. These two articles are well worth reading:

Top things to do in Dunedin & Coastal Otago

Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Dunedin & Coastal Otago region.

Visit the Moeraki Boulders

These round boulders, the result of erosion over millions of years, are a unique and unexpected sight. The short, easy stroll along the beach is well worth it and the best time to visit is around low tide. You can check the latest Moeraki tides report on MetService.com.

Moeraki Boulders

Visit Tunnel Beach

Conveniently located just 20 minutes drive from Dunedin city centre, a trip to see spectacular Tunnel Beach is a definite must-do. There’s a short, easy walking track to a secluded beach, great views of the rocky coastline and of course, a tunnel.

Tunnel Beach