Tunnel Beach, Otago

Trust me when I say this: you will never be bored at the University of Otago in Dunedin.  Although the “scarfie” weather is highly unpredictable, there are endless things to do and places to go in this historical, student-populated town… just watch out for the daily, ten-minute rain showers!

1. Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Free to the public, this lovely attraction can keep you occupied for hours!  With multiple exhibitions spread across two stories, there is plenty of art to see.  When I went, I saw more traditional paintings created with watercolor, an assortment of pieces utilizing the unique style of linocuts, and a large, contemporary style installation exhibition of fluorescent light tubes… who knew light bulbs could be so interesting to look at?  These exquisite pieces are housed in a beautiful building in The Octagon, right in the center of Dunedin.

2. Dunedin Botanic Garden

Located in the northern part of central Dunedin, this beautiful assortment of gardens is a short, ten-minute walk from uni.  The Dunedin Botanic Garden was formed in 1863, making it New Zealand’s very first botanic garden!

Whether you are in the mood to lie around in the grass or meander around the various plant collections, you are guaranteed a captivating experience.  Not only do the gardens house some of the most unusual-looking trees I’ve ever seen, but there is also an aviary where visitors can observe various New Zealand bird species.  Find a few sunny hours and connect with Mother Nature!

3. The Beach

It doesn’t matter if it’s too chilly to swim—the beaches in Dunedin are one-of-a-kind and are definitely worth visiting.  There are numerous beaches nearby, and each one is different from the next.

To list a few, there is St. Clair, Tunnel, and Long Beach, all of which are a short drive from campus.  Tunnel Beach holds a most unique and spectacular sight with its sandstone cliffs and caves.  Take a drive at sunset and prepare to be blown away!

4. Signal Hill

How often do you get the chance to say you’ve climbed up the world’s steepest street?  Do it, because the view (and bragging rights) is worth it.  The start of Signal Hill Road is a short walk from campus, and the climb isn’t so bad.  You’ll see various styles of houses as well as the occasional field of sheep on the way up.

At the top sits a historical structure containing two figures which were built to commemorate the first European settlement of New Zealand in 1940.  A good workout, fantastic panoramic view of Dunedin, and a touch of history make Signal Hill Road a great attraction for everyone.

Tramping Dunedin
Tramping (hiking) the Pineapple Track

5. Tramping

One of New Zealand’s most popular recreational activities, tramping is a must in Dunedin!  There are trails everywhere, and you can find them with a bit of research.

Walking straight from uni, I tramped on the Pineapple Track to the Silver Peaks.  My surroundings were constantly changing starting with the bustling student-life in the university to quiet woodsy areas with tall trees and various streams, and then reaching the completely tree-less vastness of rolling hills.  The sun was hot and the steep hills are rough on the thighs, but you’re not a true New Zealand tourist unless you get some tramping in.

These are just a few of the heaps of cost-free activities to do in Dunedin… just keep your eyes open!  While the university keeps me busy with various clubs and academics (I am here to study, right?), there is plenty to do outside of campus.  Explore, explore, explore!

Emily Yu  is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Emily is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Dunedin, New Zealand.