The iconic Dunedin Railway Station. © Arvid Olsen

Dunedin city: Edinburgh of the south


View the map

TAP FOR MORE INFO:

‘Dunedin’ is an ancient name for Edinburgh and the resemblance doesn’t stop at the names.

When their ship hove into Otago Harbour (‘Otago’ is a corruption of the Māori name, Ōtakou), the site of their future town must have warmed the cockles of the hearts of Dunedin’s founders, Captain William Cargill and Thomas Burns, a nephew of that most Scots of Scotsmen, Robbie.

Bird's eye view by @seethroughwindowsltd #dunnerstunner #dunedinnz

A post shared by Dunedin, New Zealand (@dunedinnz) on Aug 21, 2017 at 7:36pm PDT

Aye, they crooned. Noo we’re talkin’. The leaden skies. The cauld rocky foreshore. The drivin’ sleet...

They and the rest of the first settlers were Presbyterians, and thus they took to the rigours of the locale as readily as possums were elsewhere taking to the New Zealand rainforest. They founded a flourishing town on the shores of the fine harbour.

Flourishing was one thing, but they were staunchly disapproving when the gold rushes came along to enrich everybody and place Dunedin’s entire population in danger of being able to live it up and have some fun for a change.

Which makes you wonder what those dour Free Churchmen would have made of present-day Dunedin, and in particular the non-stop bacchanalian round of the modern Otago University student’s day.

Robbie burns looking sweet #dunedin #newzealand #dunnerstunner #createdunedin #dunedinfringe

A post shared by Dunedin, New Zealand (@dunedinnz) on Mar 9, 2017 at 12:47pm PST

They would have been gratified to see how much of the original graceful, Gothic stone architecture has been preserved – the First Church, Knox Cathedral, the town hall and the agreeably bleak Law Courts. They would have nodded approvingly when they learned the city’s stadium was popularly known as the ‘House of Pain’, but they would have been concerned at how much the townsfolk seem to enjoy themselves in there.

They would have declared themselves to be the last to cast aspersions on the fine products issuing from Mr Speight’s brewery, but they would have deplored the sheer volume of it consumed in the course of scarfie revels. You can just picture the furrows on their brows, high-lit by the orange glow of burning sofas.

For those who don’t share the narrow sensibilities of the city’s founding fathers, the time to visit Dunedin is when the scarfies are in residence, as that’s when the city is at its most vibrant.

Drop into the Two Bears or one of the other scarfie haunts for a jug – if you dare. Or visit one of the many streets where palatial Edwardian residences now house flat-loads of students. What you see may shock you – particularly if you can’t abide cruelty to furniture – but it’s all part of the atmosphere of the Edinburgh of the South.

After all, Dunedin is a pretty spot, but it’s the people – and especially the youth of the student body – that gives all that old stone its soul.

Explore more...


Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Heritage and history

Dunedin city: islands in the flow

For every bitterly cold Dunedin day, there is another one, bright and blue, in which the harbour’s beauty will take your breath away and you wish to be nowhere else on earth. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Natural attractions

Port Chalmers: a cradle made of sea

The clatter and clang of the container terminal, shags drying their wings on the transoms of fishing boats, glistening surf beaches and the lingering feel of the hundreds of years of history.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Natural attractions

Otago Peninsula: catching the wind

Otago Peninsula is the ruins of a gutted volcano, an eroded pudding of lava that cradles in its arms the glorious Otago Harbour. Read the story . . . 

Dunedin City Where to stay in

4.1 /5
4.1 /5
Cumberland Motel Visit website

Welcome to Cumberland Motel. We provide affordable self-contained units ideal for family and group accommodation with spacious living areas. Free Wireless internet available. . . . More . . . 

Book now

Book now

4.7 /5
From $136
4.7 /5
Best Price Around
Adrian Motel Visit website

17 spacious studio, 1 and 2-bedroom units (sleep 1-6). Refurbished to a superior standard. All designated smoke-free. Serviced daily: most with full kitchen facilities, all . . . More . . . 

From $136

Book now

Book now

4.3 /5
From $36
4.3 /5
Dunedin Holiday Park & Motels Visit website

Dunedin Holiday Park has motels, self-contained units, ensuite cabins, lodge, star cabins, standard cabins, 70 large power sites and over 100 tent sites. . . . More . . . 

From $36

Book now

Book now

From $100
Harington Point Motel Visit website

Closest accommodation to albatross, penguin and seal colonies. Enjoy country-style motels in a quiet, peaceful setting. Choice of spacious self-contained cottages, ideal family units with . . . More . . . 

From $100