Dunedin, The Catlins and Otago

Dunedin, situated on the east coast in the south of the South Island in New Zealand, is steeped in history.  During the gold rush of the 1860’s it was arguably New Zealand’s richest city as it was the centre of commerce for the gold found in the adjacent region of Central Otago.

Early European settlers were predominately from Scotland leading to the city being labelled “The Edinburgh of the South”.

Maori pre-date European arrival in the area by about 400 years where they tended to live along coastal areas enjoying the abundance of food associated with the sea.

Otepoti is the Maori name for the area where Dunedin eventually was developed.

Today, Dunedin proudly showcases its history with well-preserved iconic buildings on show, but the city is much more.

Wildlife is found in abundance on the Otago Peninsula, including an albatross colony at Taiaroa Head – the only mainland location where Northern Royal Albatross can be found in their natural environment.

Dunedin has a vibrant and creative seam running through it particularly in fashion, technology and art.

Explore these areas on scenic tours with Otago Shuttles and Tours. 

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North Otago

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The largest settlement is Oamaru situated on the coast, features a carefully restored historic precinct.   The smallest penguins in the world, the Little Blue Penguins have made their home at the nearby colony, which is open to the public for evening viewing.

Nearby the unusual Moeraki Boulders attract visitors from all over the world to see first-hand the large spherical boulders that sit along the sandy Koekohe Beach.    They range in size from half metre to over two metres and are made of mud, fine silt and clay held together by calcite.

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Central Otago

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The region surrounding Dunedin is known as Otago.  Head west and within a few hours’ drive you’re in heart of Central Otago.  This region is spread-out and peppered with small townships that service the surrounding farms, orchards and increasingly the flourishing vineyards.    


Central Otago is a magnet for landscape painters and photographers draw to the giant vistas and clear blue, expansive skies.

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The Catlins

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The Catlins coastline is rugged and windswept, usually featuring impressive swells and surfable waves drawn from the huge Southern Ocean.  


Only a few hours south of Dunedin, the Catlins is known for its wild beauty found in native forest, remote beaches, cascading waterfalls and coastal-dwelling sea life.