The second-largest city in the South Island, Dunedin is getting more and more recognition for its breathtaking natural beauty, coffee, and culture.
A mishmash of landscapes, this urban-meets-nature city is home to lush hinterland, rolling green mountains, beautiful beaches, and everything you could want from a hip-and-happening city. Basically, it’s just like every other ridiculously scenic city in the country.
And to top it off, it’s also home to New Zealand’s only castle, giving us serious Scotland vibes.
While there are plenty of reasons why moving to Dunedin is a no-brainer, you should also consider the downfalls of the city before relocating your life.
Living in Dunedin: Pros and Cons
With its laidback locals, historical architecture, and booming café culture, Dunedin is fast becoming one of the coolest little cities in New Zealand. But it’s not immune to the odd negative trait, either.
Pro: It has some of the best beaches in New Zealand
Located on the coast, Dunedin boasts some of the best beaches in the country. Seriously, if you’re looking to live that #beachbum life in NZ, this seaside city should be top of your list.
Some local favourites include:
- Aramoana Beach
- Dunedin Beach
- St Clair Beach
- Karitane Beach
- Warrington Beach.
Con: The weather isn’t great
As a rule of thumb, it should be assumed that winters in NZ are pretty dang cold and miserable. Dunedin is no exception, and has even been dubbed the Cloudy City by some. Summer brings enough sun to enjoy the surf, but don’t expect clear skies and sunshine all that often in Dunedin.
Pro: The cafés are awesome
And so is the dining scene in general. The coffee in particular is considered world-class, so if you’re a caffeine fiend, you’re sure to get a good fix here.
Con: House prices are on the climb
Research shows Dunedin has seen record median house prices in recent years, with a 15% increase in 2018. So if you’re thinking of buying in Dunedin, it might be best to get in before it increases any further.
Pro: There’s plenty to do
Whatever tickles your fancy, you’ll find it in Dunedin. Take a dip at the beach, or wander down to the Otago Farmers Market. Check out some live music, or treat your sweet tooth at the Cadbury factory. There’s plenty of Dunedin attractions to tick off your list too, like impressive museums and street art aplenty.
Best Dunedin Suburbs to Live In
If you’re set on moving to Dunedin but aren’t sure exactly where, these suburbs are great options for their own unique reasons.
Leafy, residential St Clair is a lovely coastal suburb that puts you in prime position to make the most of one of the city’s best beaches. Just 5km from the CBD, this is a great spot for anyone who wants the convenience of city life without sacrificing proximity to the surf. St Clair is also home to twin single-sex high schools, King’s and Queen’s.
Hilly Mornington is a family-friendly residential suburb offering plenty of parks, playgrounds, an early childhood centre and school. Its main street, Mailer Street, is buzzing with popular cafés and restaurants for when you need your coffee fix or don’t feel like cooking.
If you want great views of the city, Opoho is your go-to. Just a 12-minute drive north-east of the city centre, Opoho is one of the city’s most prestigious residential suburbs, giving you easy access to the Dunedin Botanic Garden and the coast. Here you’ll see a mix of demographics, from students to retirees. It’s known as a popular spot for students and those in the academic community, making it perfect if you’re planning to plant roots in Dunedin while studying.
Dunedin’s Dining Scene
Dunedin may be a small city, but just like the rest of NZ, it takes its cuisine very seriously with a wide variety of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets.
This eight-sided plaza in the city centre is sprinkled with eateries to tempt your tastebuds. If you fancy an evening of wining and dining, you’ll find fine-dining options aplenty (like Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant). Or if you’re in the mood for a quick bite that doesn’t break the bank, The Octagon also has your typical options like Subway and Nando’s. From authentic Japanese to hearty Irish fare, this is the ultimate foodie hotspot in Dunedin.
Follow George Street out of the Octagon and north of the CBD, and the options just keep coming. Tasty Indian, fresh seafood, juicy burgers, and world-class coffee are just some of the choices on the menu. It’s worth taking a wander down George Street to spot your new favourite restaurant or café.
Culture in Dunedin
Can’t go without your culture fix? Luckily Dunedin’s art and culture scene is alive and kicking, offering a daily dose of inspiration and thought-provoking performances.
Regent Theatre – 17 The Octagon
Located in the middle of the city, the Regent Theatre is the heart of Dunedin’s performing arts scene. This beautiful heritage building has one of the largest audience capacities of any theatre in New Zealand, hosting everything from theatre, music and opera to dance, circus and festivals.
Playhouse Theatre – 31 Albany St, North Dunedin
Another popular spot for culture connoisseurs, the Playhouse Theatre is known as the city’s little theatre with a big heart. Here you can discover an interesting mix of adult’s theatre throughout the year, along with a special children’s theatre production every school holidays. You can also catch festivals held in the venue.
Otago Museum – 419 Great King Street, Dunedin
Looking for a fun (and free!) weekend activity? The Otago Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of New Zealand and the world. With a growing collection of over 1.5 million objects from around the globe, the museum provides natural, cultural, and scientific stories through galleries, exhibitions, displays, tours, and talks.
While Dunedin has a temperate climate, the weather is known to vary quite a bit between suburbs thanks to the hilly layout of the city. It’s also dominated by a cold front, cloud cover, and plenty of rain throughout the year. Be prepared for all seasons with these tips.
Summer in Dunedin doesn’t exactly bring the warm, sunny weather you might hope for (unless you’re used to summers in NZ in general). January is the hottest month of the year, and even then, the average temperature is around 19°C. December is the wettest month, so be prepared with a raincoat or umbrella in tow at all times.
Dunedin’s autumn months bring chilly temperatures, averaging around 12°C during the day. This is a great time to check out the golden hues at the Dunedin Botanic Garden.
Winters in Dunedin are cold and frosty, but mostly sunny. Average daily temperatures are around 4-13°C, and while snow is common, significant snowfall is rare – so don’t expect to be making snowmen in the streets.
Dunedin’s springs can bring four seasons in one day, so it’s best to be prepared with a jacket and umbrella. It’s still quite cool, with average temperatures around 7-14°C. September is the driest month, but it still sees a fair bit of drizzly rainfall.
Getting Around Dunedin
Dunedin has plenty of handy and affordable public transport options to get you from A to B.
Travelling by bus is popular in Dunedin thanks to its extensive bus network. It services the city centre and surrounding suburbs, all the way out to the furthest outer suburbs of Dunedin. If you’re planning on travelling via bus regularly, a GoCard is a great way to avoid scrambling for change, and it saves you at least 25% off the fare price.
While you can’t travel by train for your daily commute to the city, Dunedin has two railways that offer scenic experiences if you’re interested in exploring the natural beauty in the area.
Just like all cities in New Zealand, Dunedin has plenty of taxis to go around when you don’t want to walk or drive. You can order one by phone, hail one in the street, or find one parked in a taxi rank around busy areas like The Octagon.
Enjoy a smoother move to Dunedin with our moving checklist.