After almost four months of living in Dunedin, we're off on a North Island road trip and a three-month stint in beautiful Queenstown.
We bid adieu to this Scottish-influenced city with a list of our favorite things:
1. Tunnel Beach
One of the prettiest places in the South Island is just a short drive from downtown Dunedin. Named Tunnel Beach for the hand-dug tunnel that leads down to the water, this steep one-hour round-trip hike is absolutely worth doing, especially during low tide.
Tunnel Beach was the 1870s brainchild of Dunedin entrepreneur and politician, John Cargill, who wanted the tunnel built in order to provide his family private access to the beachfront.
Just take a look at these photos:
Wouldn't you want a beach like this for yourself?
Rumor has it that, rather tragically, one of Cargills' daughters actually perished here when she got caught in a riptide. I guess too much of a good thing does exist.
2. The weekly farmers market
Apples, peaches, insane amounts of vegetables, fish and crabs, lamb sausage, the best dill outside my babushka's garden—what's not to love? When you add in free cooking demos by the amazing Alison Lambert, live music, and tons of samples, it makes for a perfect way to spend every Saturday morning.
We're going to miss the market like no other, especially because buying produce here was about 50% cheaper than buying it in a store. Sad story...
3. The culture, however random
Stars Wars meet-ups, New Year's Eve fireworks and cannons, Chinese New Year dragons and panda bears. New Zealand isn't exactly known for its rich cultural heritage, but Dunedin does its best to bring some art and culture to the South Island.
The free downtown Public Art Gallery, with displays by local and international artists, doesn't hurt either, especially when it showcases interactive exhibits that attract the most anti-museum of locals and travelers.
4. Secret glowworms
We're super excited to go canyoning and tubing in the North Island, which is famous for its underground caves full of glowworms. But lucky for us, we've had a chance to spot these nocturnal creatures once before, a short drive from our house in Dunedin.
A local secret, the Nichols Falls track in the Leith Valley offers a free way to see glowworms in the wild for free. It's a 10-minute walk from the road, which makes it accessible for those not wanting to rappel down into a cave.
According to Waitomo.com, home of the famous glowworm caves, a glowworm is the larvae stage in the lifecycle of a two-winged insect. The one in New Zealand is arachnocampa luminosa. 'Arachno' means spider-like, which refers to the way glowworms catch flying insects through webs, just like spiders. "Luminosa," as you can probably guess, means something that produces light.
We'll tell you more about glowing creatures once we get back from the North Island, but just know that New Zealand is the only place you can see them. Unfortunately, photos are hard and we didn't get any from Leith Valley. Wish us better luck up north!
5. The views and wildlife of the Otago Peninsula
I've written about the awesomeness that's the Otago Peninsula before, so I won't repeat it here.
Just know that having penguins, sea lions, and seals on your doorstep is amazing and the Peninsula's beaches don't disappoint either. It's quite a treat to have access to such amazing nature and wildlife just a few minutes from your home.
So there you have it: five of our favorite things about Dunedin.
To keep this post fair and balanced, we leave you with our least favorite thing: the weather. Sucks is an understatement. Cold, windy, and rainy is reality. Here's hoping to more sun in Queenstown!
Have you visited Dunedin, New Zealand?
Did you like the city? What was your favorite thing? Let us know in the comments!