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Best things to do in Dunedin with kids

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Planning a campervan holiday in Dunedin with the whole family and wondering how to spend your days? Look no further! We’ve put together this helpful guide to make your travel planning easier.

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Whether you’re looking for the best free things to do in Dunedin or the best way to spend a rainy day, we’ve got you covered. With loads to see and do for all ages, Dunedin is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand on a campervan holiday. Get ready for fun with the whole family!

What’s the best way to get to Dunedin? 

There’s no better way to explore Dunedin than with a campervan hire. Here at Britz, we make it easy and fun! Pick up your Britz campervan at our Queenstown, or Christchurch branch and kick off your holiday with a scenic New Zealand road trip through the spectacular Otago region.

If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration to create a fun road trip planner, check out some of the most popular New Zealand itineraries.

The benefits of travelling in a campervan with kids

There’s no better way to tour New Zealand with kids than by campervan. Take your time, stop as you need to, and enjoy flexibility and freedom. With your own kitchen and bathroom on board, you don’t have to worry about hunting out public restrooms or finding somewhere that offers a healthy snack. It’s like travelling in a home-away-from-home.

Another great benefit of a campervan hire is the ability to pack all those extra must-haves needed when travelling with a family. Kids love having familiar and comforting items with them when they’re going somewhere new. In a campervan, you’ve got room to pack in their favourite toys, blankets and pillow, books, and snacks. No need to weigh suitcases or cram everything into the car boot!

To help make your family motorhoming holiday even easier, check out our tips for easy campervan travel with kids.

Top 5 things to do in Dunedin with kids 

Dunedin is the second-largest city in New Zealand’s South Island. It’s renowned for its rich heritage, diverse wildlife, and vibrant culture. With so many great things to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. To help make it a little easier, here’s our list of the top five things to do with kids in this beautiful city.

1. Soak in the local history at Otago Museum 

New to Dunedin? Before you do anything else, take the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history of the city. Otago Museum is the perfect place to do exactly that. The museum has an enormous collection of items – over 1.5 million in fact! Not only can you learn more about the Central Otago region, but you can also see collections from all over the world. And if the kids are keen to learn about the universe beyond, the museum also has daily planetarium shows.

Admission to the museum and galleries is free. The planetarium and some exhibits are ticketed (visit the Otago Museum website for pricing)

Image source: Visual library DunedinNZ.

2. Discover the curiosities at Dunedin Museum of Natural History 

For kids who are keen to learn more about animals and biology, you simply can’t go past the Dunedin Museum of Natural History. This small but fascinating museum is home to a unique collection of bones, skulls, biological curiosities, and unusual artefacts collected by artist and sculptor Bruce Mahalski. The artist has been collecting shells, bones, insects and more since early childhood, so there’s plenty to see!

The museum is open Friday (12 pm – 5 pm), Saturday and Sunday (10 am – 5 pm). Entry is $10 for adults, $5 for children aged 6-16, and under-6s are free.

Image source: Visual library DunedinNZ

3. Make a splash at Moana Pool 

Cool off – or warm up! – at Moana Pool. This terrific pool complex is a great way for the whole family to spend a fun day together. With water slides, a heated leisure pool, and a spa pool, it’s well set up for year-round fun.

The entry fee is $7.40 for adults (or $13.50 for a swim and slide), $3.40 for children (or $7.40 for a swim and slide).

4. Have breakfast at the Otago Farmers Market 

The Otago Farmers Market is the ideal spot to stock up on fresh produce for your camper. Or just wander through and enjoy the community vibe and perhaps a bite to eat. The market has around 65 vendors during peak season with a tasty range of locally grown fruit and veggies, freshly brewed coffee, and yummy breakfast or brunch goodies.

The market is open from 8 am – 12.30 pm every Saturday morning at the northern car park of Dunedin Railway Station.

Image source: Visual library DunedinNZ

5. Discover New Zealand’s only castle 

It’s not often the kids can tell their friends they visited a castle on a New Zealand road trip! Dunedin’s Larnach Castle is our country’s one and only castle, and one of the unmissable things to do while you’re in the region.

The castle was built in 1871 by William Larnach, a politician and merchant baron, with no expense spared. Today, the castle and its beautiful surrounding gardens (rated as a Garden of International Significance) are open every day of the year for visitors to explore and enjoy.

Options include self-guided or guided tours with prices ranging between $18.50 - $37 for adults. Children under 14 are free.

Image source: Visual library DunedinNZ

The best free things to do in Dunedin with kids 

If you’re looking for the best free things to do in Dunedin, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top picks:

Discover Dunedin’s wildlife 

Dunedin is renowned for its rich diversity of wildlife including many of New Zealand’s precious endangered species. One of the best places to see some of these amazing creatures is the Otago Peninsula. You’ll find a number of walkways that offer incredible views over the harbour. Keep your eyes peeled for penguins, seals, sea lions, albatrosses, and more.

A great spot to visit on the southern side of the peninsula is Sandfly Bay. The kids will love exploring the sand dunes and taking in the views from the viewing platform. This special spot is also home to yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho and seabirds such as spotted shags, sooty shearwaters and variable oystercatchers.

Remember, if you encounter a penguin or other wildlife, please keep your distance, and ask children to use quiet voices.

Enjoy a picnic at the Botanic Gardens 

Pack a picnic and head to Dunedin’s Botanic Gardens to enjoy a relaxing day out the whole family will love. Spanning 30 hectares, the garden collections range from roses and rhododendrons to natives and endangered species.

Located on Great King Street North, the gardens are open every day of the year from dawn till dusk. If you fancy a good coffee while you’re there, there’s a café on site along with an information centre and shop.

Image source: Visual library DunedinNZ

Snap a picture of Dunedin from above 

To take in the best views of Dunedin, head to Signal Hill Lookout. Located near the heart of the Otago Harbour, the lookout gives 360-degree views across the city. While you’re there, take the opportunity to explore some of the trails in the scenic reserve that encompasses the lookout.

To get there, head towards Opoho and follow Signal Hill Road right to the end.

Head to Organ Pipes Track 

For families with older children who are keen on a bit of adventure, head to Organ Pipes Track. This 2km walking track (about an hour’s walk each way) features incredible geological pillars of basalt formed by volcanic activity. Take in the spectacular views from Butters Peak along the way, and the top of the Organ Pipes once you reach them.

The track can be accessed by Mt Cargill Road car park.

Cycle on the Otago Rail Trail 

For families who love cycling, don’t miss the Otago Rail Trail. The full trail runs 152km in length between Middlemarch and Clyde. But don’t worry, there’s no need to tackle the whole trail! The track is divided into easy-to-manage sections, so you can choose one (or more) to suit.

As you enjoy your ride you’ll pass through the region’s ever-changing landscape of mountains, farmland, river gorges, viaducts, and thriving townships. The trail has a gentle gradient making it suitable for walkers too.

Image source: Visual library DunedinNZ

Have a beach day at Warrington Beach

With its east coast location, Dunedin has many great beaches to explore. Our pick for families is Warrington Beach. Sheltered by the Otago Peninsula, the beach is safe for swimming and is patrolled by lifeguards over summer. At low tide, the kids can explore the rock pools and walk all the way along the beach and around the spit to dig for clams at Blueskin Bay.

Alongside the beach, Warrington Domain offers freedom camping with a playground, picnic area, and public toilets.

Ready to book your trip to Dunedin? 

From castles and cycle trails to glorious gardens and walks, Dunedin really does have plenty on offer for families. We hope we’ve given you a few great options to add to your road trip planner as you prepare to visit Dunedin. Ready to take the first step and book your campervan hire? Britz New Zealand has a campervan or motorhome suitable for every family and budget. Don’t forget to check out current deals.