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Dunedin prides itself on being New Zealand’s leading center for education, heritage, arts, and culture. Along with its historic architecture and eclectic arts scene, Dunedin enjoys an appealing harbourside position sheltered by the Otago Peninsula.
Amongst Dunedin’s attractions are fine examples of unspoiled Edwardian and Victorian architecture, rare and unique wildlife, and stunning coastal beauty creating some great scenic drives. The vibrant city center is bustling with restaurants, cafes, and boutique stores.
Dunedin is perfect for visiting with a campervan. There are beautiful scenic drives with the newly upgraded Otago Peninsula Road, an easy drive along the Harbour. A wide selection of free & paid camping sites is available, from the beach to the bush, including a dedicated city centre Freedom Camping Site with easy walking access to the city attractions.
Invercargill is New Zealand's southernmost city, only a 2-hour 30-minute drive from Dunedin, this city has an abundance of character, and warm, friendly nature. Invercargill has an excellent range of shops, lively bars, and restaurants, as well as a range of buildings that give the city its charm and old-world character vibes. Heading out of the city, Invercargill is packed full of big skies, epic fiords, coastal drives as well as the remote perfection of Stewart Island.
Popular Roadtrips Dunedin & Invercargill Road Trips & Itineraries
The road trips around these regions are truly one of a kind. Described as the touring route to rule them all, and rate as one of the Top 10 drives in the world, it isn't hard to find a reason to jump into a camper and explore the Southern Scenic Route. The stunning journey takes in some of the South Island's most iconic scenic highlights from the dramatic beauty and wildlife of Dunedin and The Caitlins coastline through to the charming townships and epic natural attractions in Southland and Fiordland, ending in the home of adventure, Queenstown.
Slow down and savour a spectacular southern road trop. Follow the less travelled trail from Otepoti/Dunedin to Queenstown. The Central Otago Touring Route is a journey through spectacular landscapes full of natural wonders, unique attractions, and activities, paired with the local hospitality of Otago - this truly makes for a memorable trip.
Things To Do in Dunedin & Invercargill
From edgy urban street art to adorable penguins, Dunedin is a region full of surprises. There is so much to see and do in the city and on the Otago Peninsula. Here are some of the highlights:
Dunedin is home to some of the world’s rarest wildlife due to the rugged, exposed coastline on the Otago Peninsula. From little blue penguins to yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals, and sea lions. By joining one of the many experienced guides either on land or by sea, you are guaranteed a great experience with our human and wildlife locals. You can also visit the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross and watch Dunedin’s famous Royals from the exclusive “Royal Box”
Whether you’re visiting New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle, experiencing how the other half lived at Olveston Historic home, or simply wandering around the many Edwardian & Victoria architecturally designed building still standing in their true or updated form, you’ll feel a sense of stepping back in time when in our well-preserved piece of Southern history.
Dunedin's compact city layout and flat runs make it a great place for cycle touring, while the surrounding countryside offers five mountain bike trail networks. Signal Hill, just 40 minutes ride from the city center, has the best downhill track in the country. Like a long, flat, ride? The Otago Peninsula cycleway from the city to Portobello provides a dedicated, safe, cycle path around the stunning Otago Harbour. You can stop along the way for a coffee or lunch at various cafes including Glenfalloch Gardens. Keen to go across the harbour take the cycle ferry from Portobello to Port Chalmers.
Dunedin also has excellent shopping, incredible night skies viewing, a variety of family fun activities, delicious cuisine from all around the world, dog-friendly beaches and walking tracks, and a strong community of arts and cultural events. All packaged up in our warm hospitality and southern charm. What more could you ask for during your Dunedin urban injection on your Southern Road trip.
One of the best things to do in Invercargill is Aurora Australis – an iconic light phenomenon, also known as the Southern Lights. Like Dunedin, Invercargill has perfectly clear skies with little to no light pollution. This means it's the perfect spot to see the effect of solar winds hitting the Earth's magnetic field. The best time of year to see this spectacular light show takes place between April – September.
Bill RIchardson's Transport World is one of the most highly rated attractions on offer in Invercargill and is a must-see for anyone interested in automobiles. A perfect family activity, a visit here will show you vintage car models and a great LEGO room that the kids will love.
On a knob near Invercargill, Bluff is commonly considered the mainland's southernmost point. It's well worth a detour, not only for the obligatory photograph at Stirling point and the walkway to Lookout Point but also for salty air, incredible oysters, and taking in the old-world industrial vibe.
Invercargill is home to an incredible collection of beaches. Oreti beach is a magnificent spot. The long stretch of beach is characterised by its hard-packed sand. Perfect for just about any beach activity you can think of, this beach is a must-see spot – especially if you're travelling to the region in warmer weather. Try your hand at swimming, surfing, windsurfing, walking, kayaking, beach cricket, and even sand castling. Be sure not to miss a spectacular sunset here too.
One of the most breathtaking spots in the Invercargill region can be found at the Waipapa Point Lighthouse. Standing on the coast since 1884, the lighthouse has a rich history and is one of the last wooden lighthouses to be built in New Zealand. The Waipapa Point Lighthouse sits above a beach known for a spot where sealions gather regularly.
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Britz Campervan Branches
If you're after a long drive, starting your trip in Auckland will allow you to take in all the scenery of the North Island before setting sail across to the South Island to continue your adventure.
Pick up your Britz camper in Wellington and take it across the Cook Strait on the ferry. No need to scramble when you get there, simply drive your vehicle off the ferry at Picton and kick off your adventure further south.
The drive from Christchurch to Dunedin will take you through dramatic coastal views, rare birdlife and classc architecture and heritage. Make a return trip out of this drive, or continue further south towards Queenstown.
New Zealand's renowned adventure playground, Queenstown is an exhilarating, year-round alpine resort. With so many activities and natural delights to enjoy, no South Island campervan trip is complete without a trip to this hot spot.
Helpful Tips For Visiting Dunedin & Invercargill
Climate and seasons in Dunedin & Invercargill
Dunedin and Invercargill experience all four seasons beautifully, each bringing a different uniqueness and colour to our city.
In Dunedin, summer temperatures fall between 11-20 degrees and a colder winter between 4-13 degrees. Rainfall is evenly spread over the course of the year. The area has mild summers and chilly winters. Invercargill has a significant amount of rain, even in the driest months.
Where to stay in Dunedin & Invercargill with a Campervan
- Freedom Camping Dunedin
- Portobello Park, Otago Peninsula
- Leith Valley Touring Park, close to the city and bush walks. Dog friendly
- Dunedin Holiday Park, by the beach and dog friendly
What to pack
With so much exploring to be done in this region, it's an absolute must to make sure you pack for outdoor activities and adventure in Dunedin and Invercargill. Be sure to bring your walking shoes, warmer clothes for the cooler days and nights. A bike is always good to bring onboard your vehicle so you can make the most of the incredible cycling trails this region has to offer. And with Britz, you can bring your dog on board so they can enjoy the holiday with you!
Nearby attractions and day trips from Dunedin & Invercargill
- Sutton Salt Lake. The Sutton Salt Lake is the only saline lake in New Zealand. With no outlet, the lake has concentrated salts from surrounding soils. Nestled against the epic backdrop of the Rock and Pillar Range, be sure to make the 3.5 self-guided loop walk to the lake and enjoy the tranquillity of this natural landscape.
- Karitane. Set in rolling country near the mouth of the Waikouaiti River, the seaside settlement of Karitane is a popular holiday retreat. Known for its scenic beauty, golden beach, tranquil environment as well as rich Māori and European history, a trip to this picturesque village is well worth it.
- Moeraki Boulders. No trip along the Otago coast is complete without stopping to marvel at the Moeraki Boulders. The Moeraki boulders and mysterious, spherical stones scattered across a beach. According to Māori legend, the boulders are gourds washed to shore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfill in New Zealand hundreds of years ago.
- The Caitlins. The Caitlins is the spectacular stretch of coast between Balclutha and Invercargill. Boasting a magical rugged beauty and untouched quality, here you will find a world of native forests, high cliffs, deserted sandy beaches, cascading waterfalls, hidden lakes, caves, sparkling bays and scenic lighthouses. Home to an array of fauna, from native birds to local wildlife, the natural landscapes in the Caitlins and truly one of a kind.