Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and with a rich Scottish history and a beautiful natural setting, it makes an excellent place to spend a few days. Like Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, Dunedin sits in a natural harbour that is part of the remnants of an extinct volcano. The hills that form the Otago Peninsula that surround the harbour were also once part of this huge, ancient volcano.
Rather than staying in the main city, we decided to take our campervan to the Otago Peninsula, where we could find a more quieter and peaceful place to camp. The next day we went for a drive to see what the area had to offer, and what we found was an incredibly beautiful landscape.
Green rolling hills run down to the harbour, with picturesque little bays and inlets branching off of it. In the fields, flocks of sheep grazed happily as we drove along the winding road, stopping often to take in the incredible views.
On the opposite side of the peninsula, the land is open to the rough seas of the Southern Ocean, giving way to stunning, rugged coastline. The green pastures are cut off by eroded cliffs that are constantly beaten by the rough seas below.
I could see why people compare the area to parts of Ireland, and all I could think of was the photos I had seen of the rugged west coast of that far off country.
Even on this rough side of the peninsula, quiet little inlets branch off, sometimes nearly meeting with those on the opposite side. These sheltered inlets give great opportunities to see some of the local bird life, to go with the other great wildlife experiences that can be had on the Otago Peninsula. The most notable being the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin and the Royal Albatross.
On the way back to camp we stopped in at Larnach Castle, which is infact New Zealand’s only castle. Built in 1871, merchant baron and politician William Larnach built the castle for his first wife. The building is still privately owned, but has been beautifully restored, maintaining it’s incredibly elegant appearance. It’s a lovely place to explore and their cafe makes a nice cup of tea and scones.
The Otago Peninsula was a pleasant place to spend the day, and if I ever return I think I would spend more time there and do some hiking along it’s spectacular coastline. If you’re going to Dunedin in New Zealand, I recommend taking a drive to explore this beautiful part of the country.