Dunedin, the farthest city in the world from London, perches on the Southeast coast of New Zealand’s South Island. This southernmost town may well boast the world’s steepest street, Baldwin Street, but is better known for being home to an internationally acclaimed music scene, a hip visual arts community and a world-renowned university.
Hidden within Dunedin’s jumble of modern, Edwardian and Victorian-era architecture, you will find a profusion of fantastic restaurants, an effervescent café culture, beguiling boutiques and fabulous farmers' markets. Head out of town and you will find yourself at the foot of a mountain biking mecca (aka Signal Hill) at the gateway to the revered Otago region.
Dunedin’s excellent golf courses, pipe bands, fine range of malts and whiskies and Burns night Haggis ceremonies are redolent of its mid-Lothian Scottish heritage. If whisky is too strong for your palette, venture beyond the city’s borders and you’ll find yourself in the heart of New Zealand’s finest wine-growing region. Central Otago’s boutique wines have stormed the world stage in recent years, owing to the region’s unique wine-growing terroir.
The city’s dramatic backdrop of mountains interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges has given rise to a wildly creative, innovative, community-spirited town, whose residents celebrate individualism with relish. Dunedin is ultimately a lifestyle city that lets you create your own space at your own pace.
What is special or unique about your city?
Dunedin is the Gaelic name for Edinburgh and is famous for its strong links with Scotland. The local residents keep the Scottish traditions alive with memorable Haggis ceremonies and even their own brand of whisky. It is renowned for its strong culture with many beautifully preserved Victorian and Edwardian buildings, including their railway station, University of Otago and Otago Boys' High School.
Close to wonderful harbours, beaches and the spectacular scenery of central Otago, Dunedin is an easy going, friendly and cosmopolitan city.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Newcomers will be impressed with the warm and friendly welcome they will receive. With the strong Scottish influence and heritage, Dunedin residents enjoy newcomers and are openly gracious. Dunedin is well known as a clean green city with a proud heritage.
Are these impressions likely to change?
No, the impression will remain the same. The Dunedin City Council has strict guidelines protecting our heritage along with a well-disciplined plan for our future.
What is the local language?
English is the official language of New Zealand; however you will also hear Maori spoken, along with other languages from the South Pacific islands and Asia.
Here are a few Maori words that may be fun to learn as well as help you while you are here:
English = Maori
- hello = kia ora
- goodbye = haere ra
- please = koa
- thank you = kia ora rawa atu
- good = ka pai
- bad = ka kino
- help = äwhinatia
- yes = äe
- no = käo
- food = kai
- water = wai
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
The main thing to remember is to respect the many diverse cultures in New Zealand. To avoid offending, please take note of the following:
- Casual dress is acceptable and usually preferred in most situations
- Do not use the "V for victory" sign as it is considered offensive
- Always try to be on time for appointments. Punctuality is considered good manners
- Afternoon tea is between 3:00p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Early evening tea is between 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and a larger meal is served. Supper is a snack served much later in the evening.
- Tipping is not common here
- Cover your mouth if you must yawn, do not chew gum or use toothpicks and please do not spit in public
- Ask permission before you attempt to photograph someone
- When meeting someone or departing, use a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact.
- Avoid confusing or comparing New Zealand to Australia, as they are two distinct countries.
- Remember that New Zealand has strict smoking rules, and smoking is not permitted in any public building or public transport
- Smoking is not permitted in any bars, cafes or restaurants, but smoking areas may be provided outside
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
There is no rainy season in Dunedin and the city receives less than 800mm of rainfall each year.
Dunedin experiences extended twilight in summer, beautiful colourful autumns and spectacular springtime. The winter can bring snow to the hills surrounding Dunedin. Temperatures in August range from a low of 4 to an average of 13 degree Celsius; in February, temperatures hover around the low to mid 20s.
The warmest months are December, January and February and the coldest are June, July and August.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Dunedin has a significant university population; as a result, the city is constantly thrumming with colourful and lively social activities for everyone.