When disembarking in Dunedin while on a cruise ship holiday you will quickly discover Dunedin and it surrounds have a wide range of activities and attractions on offer for cruise ship passengers. Dunedin shore excursions range from unique wildlife encounters and heritage sightseeing opportunities through to adrenaline pumping thrill rides.
Getting Around On Dry Land
Dunedin cruise ship tours dock just to the northeast of Dunedin’s city centre in Port Chalmers, a small hilly peninsula situated approximately 10 km inside Otago Harbour, 15 minutes by car from central Dunedin. Whether your cruise ship tour is berthed in Port Chalmers for a day, a couple of days or more, you will find the best way to explore the Dunedin area at your own pace is by hire car. Make your way into the central city, out along the Otago Peninsula or inland to discover the many amazing destinations made easily accessible by Dunedin rental car.
Must Do’s While In Dunedin
With so many amazing activities and attractions on offer in the Dunedin region, when under the time constraints of cruise ship tours it can be difficult to narrow down where to spend your precious time, here are our top picks for the five things you simply must do while in Dunedin.
1. Dunedin Botanic Gardens
Over 150 years old, the Dunedin Botanic Gardens are officially New Zealand’s oldest botanic gardens. Occupying just over 30 hectares (or 75 acres) the gardens are home to a vast range of horticultural and botanical collections along with native birdlife, artistic structures and statues and the popular Edwardian Winter Garden complex. Only 15 minutes from the Port Chalmers cruise ship berth, the botanic gardens make for an easy day trip destination in your rental car. Why not arrange a picnic lunch and enjoy the day surrounded by the tranquil surroundings. Admission is free and the gardens are open every day from dawn till dusk.
2. Taieri Gorge Railway
One of the most popular Dunedin shore excursions for cruise ship passengers, and widely considered one of the world’s greatest train journeys, the Taieri Gorge Railway operates out of the iconic Dunedin Railway Station building. The train negotiates its way out of the central city and across the Taieri Plains at a comfortable pace reaching the Taieri Gorge in good time. The trip up through the gorge is filled with tunnels, viaducts, bridge crossings and the most amazing panoramic views of some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery imaginable.
3. Otago Peninsula
Opposite Port Chalmers on the other side of the Otago Harbour is the famous Otago Peninsula. Affectionately known as the wildlife capital of New Zealand, the Peninsula and its surrounding waters are home to a wide range of oceanic birds and marine mammals, including some rare and endangered wildlife species unique to New Zealand. Little Blue penguins, various species of seals, sea lions, humpback whales, dolphins and of course the Royal Albatross are just a few of the amazing creatures you can spot on a good day. No visit to Dunedin is complete without experiencing the outstanding natural wonders of the Otago Peninsula.
4. Otago Farmers Market
For a slight change of pace and the opportunity to sample some of the best fresh produce the Otago region has to offer, why not check out the Otago Farmers Market. Every Saturday thousands of locals and visitors flock to the Dunedin Railway Station’s north car park to experience the friendly atmosphere, fresh produce and to grab a bargain. With over 60 stalls on offer there is sure to be something for everyone, buy direct from the producers and source some of the best meats, fruits and vegetables in New Zealand. Enjoy cooking demonstrations, buskers, and great coffee while you make you way around one of the busiest farmers markets in Australasia.
5. Port Chalmers
Whether you choose to explore Port Chalmers on arrival or before you depart for another cruise ship destination, it is definitely worth adding to your itinerary. The numerous galleries, boutiques and antique shops, heritage features and museum will keep you occupied for hours, while the quirky little cafes and eateries will provide handy refueling stops along the way. Port Chalmers offers the perfect easy outing for cruise ship passengers looking to pick up a few souvenirs, some take-home presents for loved ones or just a relaxing walk along the peaceful streets.
Dunedin Cruise Ship Tips
Dunedin is located in the lower South Island of New Zealand, weather conditions and temperatures can vary greatly day to day, please ensure you are well prepared when travelling. The New Zealand dollar is the only accepted currency, with most transactions completed electronically via credit or eftpos cards, which are widely accepted. There is a visitor information centre located at the Port to assist cruise ship passengers with shore excursion travel plans and car rental if necessary.
When looking for a reliable rental car company in Dunedin, check to make sure they provide convenient pick up and drop services to Port Chalmers, ensuring a hassle free Dunedin cruise ship shore excursion. Enjoy your time in Dunedin, make the most of every minute!