Whilst New Zealand’s North Island was sparsely inhabited during its early history, a significant amount of archaeological findings point to Dunedin in the South Island as being home to the Maori people long before the Europeans settled here.
Today Dunedin is considered to be in the top four most important cities in New Zealand for historical cultural and geographical reasons. However in terms of size it has dropped to seventh place in recent years.
The importance of the city of Dunedin is partially due to the discovery of gold nearby in 1861.
With all that in mind we present to you our list of the top five free things to do in Dunedin:
5. First church of Otago
Up first on our list of free things to do in Dunedin is taking a visit to the first church of Otago.
Otago is the region of the New Zealand’s South Island in which you can find Dunedin. The church provides a nice change to the contemporary surroundings of Dunedin city centre.
It is an impressive church because of its architecture and design both inside and out. Definitely worth visiting whilst you are in Dunedin.
You can find the first church of Otago 100 metres south of the city centre, on Moray Place just past the Octagon.
4. Dunedin Public Art Gallery
You can probably do this next activity on our list of free things to do in Dunedin straight after visiting the first church of Otago as it on the Octagon just a short walk away!
Dunedin Public Art Gallery showcases local New Zealand artworks from 1860 to the present day. It is not only home to New Zealand Art however! The art gallery also houses a large collection of historical European, Japanese prints and decorative arts.
It is recognised as “one of New Zealand’s premier collections and is open 10am to 5pm daily. To find out more about the Dunedin Public Art Gallery check out their website.
Perhaps not the kind of beach you may find in the likes of Rio de Janeiro , Tunnel Beach is an attraction for different reasons.
It is a very popular walking route of 1.2km winding past sandstone cliffs, arches and caves. The route is open year round except at lambing season (August – October).
The descent through the tunnel from cliff to beach is around 70 steps and can get slippery so maybe bring walking boots rather than flip flops to this beach.
2. Otago Museum
Another activity on our list of free things to do in Dunedin that is just a short walk from the city centre; Otago Museum, has whole range of attractions for free.
There are seven galleries within the museum featuring people, wildife and history among many other topics.
If you are looking to push the boat out you can also visit the Discovery World Tropical Rainforest, although you will have to pay for tickets to go in.
The final activity on our list of free things to do in Dunedin is the Dunedin Botanic Gardens.
These gardens are officially the first botanical gardens in the whole of New Zealand. They are home to over 6800 plant species in an area of 30.4 hectares.
If you enjoy watching animals as well as seeing beautiful displays of foliage, then you will be happy to know that there are a range of bird species that call the gardens home too. These include wood pigeon, native bellbirds and tui.