Dunedin is the perfect girls trip destination. Come with me.
I just spent the perfect girls trip in Ōtepoti/ Dunedin where I ate, drank, walked, drowned in art, found secret spots, photographed, shopped, laughed, slept and generally gasped at how incredible this city is.
And incredible it is, so incredible many people messaged me with “I’ve lived here for 20 years and didn’t know that place existed”.
A mere 3 hours drive from Queenstown, I loaded up my podcasts and got on the road. Landing right in the city centre at the gorgeous and newly renovated Wains Hotel I was mere steps from all the coffee and sights a girl could ask for. And all the things were on the list (and we saw all of them!).
Starting with doughnuts (I needed the sustenance) at Mamas Doughnuts this girls trip was in heaven. Try glazed standard or a collection of divine flavours (Maple walnut anyone?) we then meandered around all the shops for some good bargains (and when I say ‘all’ i mean all).
Dunedin is the best city to get around as it’s all generally in the same area (and there’s scooters if you need to get somewhere quickly). Plentiful vintage shops galore for rummaging as well as high end names and all your classics. Divine places like Two Squirrels Vintage, Slick Willies, Plume and we also stumbled on random shops set up in disused spaces. Squeals a plenty at all the finds. ‘Guild’ houses beautiful local delights and a good selection of clothes, pottery, cards and jewellery.
Eats and Drinks
Since I was last in Dunedin (family trip!) there’s been an absolute EXPLOSION of new bars, cafes and eateries and I think we tried them all. We got set up for the day with coffee (a must) and fresh produce for all the breakfast needs. We started at The Daily Coffee and then moved onto Vanguard for eggs and toast and views of street art (it’s down every nook and cranny). They also provide coffee to take away and a full insight into where your coffee comes from and how to perfect the best brew.
An afternoon meander around St Clair which is only a 12 minute drive from Dunedin City. You’re surrounded by lapping waves of the sea and chic lifestyle shops (Wander and Sons is beautiful) and the best french fries, clams and ice cold white wine at The Esplanade. Fingers licked clean and we were ready to dive into cocktails at Mr Fox back in the city. A doorway tucked in between bars you’ll find Mr Fox down a little staircase and a large menu of ‘fox-tails’ to choose from. Dirty martinis were our choice and they came delivered to our little cozy nook.
Severely satiated we then kicked up our heels at the epic New New New craft beer brewery. It’s BEAUTIFUL and ripe for a dance party (anyone?!). Halligen lights a-rama and you can sit right up close and personal to the beer tanks. I love the Japanese inspired deco hanging from the ceiling. Cherry beer for me.
We then hopped back to Wains Hotel for the first night of Dine Dunedin where a seven course experience awaited. I slept the sleep of sleepy people and “up and at em” bright and early the next morning.
Every Saturday everyone gathers at Dunedin Railway for the Otago Farmers Market (it’s the place to be on a Saturday morning). A beautiful collection of all things fresh and local. Cheeses, fruits and veg, sandwiches, sops, coffee, crepes. Honey, porridge, meat and bread. They also have a mug library if you’ve forgotten your keep cup and lovely places to sit and stuff your face full of delights.
We then started a walk around the city uncovering all the art that is EVERYWHERE. It’s tucked down corridors, spotted on the back of signs. Huge murals on walls, up high on the side of buildings and tiny pieces on bricks randomly dotted around the city. I’ve previously attended the awesome Street Kiwi and her art walks but this time I took my coffee and uncovered new pieces I haven’t seen before. There’s a handy app to discover them all. Art is plentiful in this amazing city it oozes from the walls and Dunedin is always known for doing its own thing.
Tunnel Beach is also a 15 minute drive from the centre of the city. Beautiful (and I mean stunningly beautiful) seascape and cliffs greet you. A short walk down hill to the ‘tunnel’ and vast views out to sea. It’s quite short and sharp uphill back to the top but oh so worth it. I couldn’t believe this was so close to the city for a bit of a breather and some opportunities for a new landscape.
Ocho Chocolate factory was next and I was excited to see that they’ve moved into larger premises to make MORE CHOCOLATE. We took their awesome 30 minute tour to hear about how they have kept their recipe so strictly about being transparent in their values but also where their chocolate comes from.
We then meandered back to the city (Ocho is a short walk from the centre) and had a sit down and the best carrot lox bagel I’ve ever had at Morning Magpie.
Dunedin is epic. It’s small enough to get around and large enough to be absolutely cram packed full of things to do, see and try on for size.
A quick lemonade in the lovely Dog with Two Tails cafe and a look at the Rear Window (there’s always a piece of art or video installation at the back window) of Dunedin Art Gallery (a secret must do of mine) we then meandered to Hard to Find Books where you could get lost for days. I’m not joking. The glorious smell of books deep in my lungs and we then headed to Toitu Settlers Museum which is stuffed full of the history of Otago and Dunedin. Fourteen themed galleries, interactive displays, motor vehicles, fashion and compelling narratives about the people who first came here. You could spend a whole day there.
A hop, skip and a jump back to Wains Hotel to change and I took my first visit to Emerson’s Brewery for their take on Dine Dunedin…. Eat the poutine, it rivals anything in Canada (don’t tell Canada I said that).
Dunedin is more than a cool city with its own rules, it exudes cool without being pompous, it is stacked full of secret finds literally at every turn. A bar here, an art gallery there. Is it a fire escape? No, it’s a tunnel leading to a ridiculously beautiful restaurant. Every single need is catered for and then you have the beaches just 15 minutes from the city. So you can go out and in and out again.
Dunedin is a girl’s weekend away done right with something for all. And if you need to seperate to go off and check out the thing you individually love during the weekend, your girlfriends are literally a street away.
I love you Ōtepoti Dunedin. I’ll be back.
I worked with Dunedin NZ to bring you the best they have. If I didn’t think you’d like them I wouldn’t write about them