Scottish Reminiscence in Dunedin, New Zealand
Living in Scotland, you become spoiled by the never-ending scenery and hospitality of this northernmost section of the UK. Surprisingly, though, there’s one part of the world where you’ll find a near replica of Scotland – and it couldn’t be further away: Dunedin, New Zealand.
Dunedin is actually an old Scots word that means Edinburgh. The city blossomed out of the southern Kiwi countryside during the 1800’s gold rush, and the two cities were officially twinned in 1974. Today it’s the city in New Zealand with the highest proportion of persons of Scottish descent. Here are some of the wonderful places and sights you’ll see in Dunedin that will make you fall in love with both Dunedin’s.
Robert Burn’s Statue
Robert Burns was a famous Scottish poet, the man that brought us Auld Lang Syne. (That’s the song everyone sings on New Year’s Eve but doesn’t really know the lyrics to.) He even has his own national holiday in Scotland, Burns Night, where locals tuck in to a traditional meal of a Burns Supper. You can reflect on Burn’s influence on the world at his statue inside the Octagon, made by an Edinburgh sculptor, then follow up with a pint at The Original Robert Burns Pub on George Street.
The Organ Pipes
So you won’t find a similar rock formation in Scotland (though there’s one kind of like it in Northern Ireland) but the Organ Pipes are a great way to get some fresh air, some height, and take in the great views of this part of the world that will remind you of Scotland’s green hills. The pipes are on Mount Cargill, which is easily accessible from the city. You’ll need a car or get a lift out to the car park on Mount Cargill Road and take the base trail from there, which is conveniently shaded from the sun on hot days. You’ll see the pipes long before you reach them; they’re a series of volcanic rock formations that cooled to look just like a set of organ pipes. Be sure to wear proper footwear up here as the rockface can be slightly slippery underfoot.
Being on an island itself, Scotland is well known for some pretty spectacular coasts, and New Zealand is no different. You simply must go and visit Tunnel Beach in Dunedin: half of the experience is getting there! Legend has it that a local politician had the tunnel built so that his daughter could easily access to shore anytime she wanted. It’s slightly damp, creepy, and spooky but the jagged cliffs on the other side are well worth the effort. To get there, you’ll need to drive along the Dunedin/Brighton coastal road until you see the Tunnel Beach signage. It takes about an hour to get to the beach and back; check with the tourist board in the Octagon and visit during low tide, the best time to go.
If you’ve been to Edinburgh, you’ll know it is a town full of quite steep cobblestone streets. But they’re nothing compared to Dunedin’s Baldwin Street: officially the world’s steepest street! You can walk it or drive to the top, where you’ll find a water fountain for refreshment, a bench to rest your feet, and great city views for your reward. Baldwin Street is in the northeast side of the city and even has its own festival every February, The Baldwin Street Gutbuster. If you have the energy, follow up your “hike” with a stroll in the nearby Botanic Gardens.
If You Go
While the overly-practical city center, called the Octagon for obvious reasons, is very nice and always bustling, it goes without saying: go head out into the countryside.