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Dunedin Has European cultures

Aug 17, 2007
Situated on the south eastern coast of New Zealands South Island, Dunedin has a population of around 120,000 and is the main centre of Otago, a region recognised for its spectacular scenery. The sheer physical beauty of Dunedin, dramatic bush covered hills and valleys at the head of a long natural harbour, attracted Maori settlers to the site over four centuries ago.

Boosted by riches from the 1861 gold rush, Dunedin grew from an isolated outpost to a bastion of European culture, retaining close links to its Scottish heritage. The Victorian and Edwardian architecture would be equally at home in Edinburgh, the city from which Dunedin draws its name.

A cathedral, several galleries, theatres and museums are clustered around the Octagon, the unusual grid of streets and historical buildings that form the heart of the city. With New Zealands oldest university, and a thriving youth culture and rock music scene, abundant pubs, cafes and bars, this is the place for lively night life as well as discovering the history of early European settlement.

There are the dazzling rhododendron gardens at Glenfalloch, which are at their best in September and October and the folly like Larnach Castle. The star attractions, however, are those of the wildlife. The worlds only mainland breeding royal albatross colony can be found at Taiaroa Head and colonies of the rare yellow eyed penguin frequent the white sand beaches. For rail enthusiasts, the 77km Taieri Gorge Railway ranks among the worlds great rail journeys, heading inland from Dunedin towards the gold fields of Central Otago.

Southland extends from Fiordland National Park on the west coast to Dunedin on the east, once the largest city in the country. Probably the least visited of all New Zealand regions, it offers contrasting landscapes, an abundance of wildlife and a historic past, dating back to gold rush days. The Southern Scenic Route links Dunedin with Te Anau and follows the coastal road through fertile farmland, dramatic coastlines and hidden waterfalls, via The Catlins, Invercargill and South Otago.

North and south of Dunedin, the rugged coast is peppered with unusual geological formations, sheltered sandy bays and sheer cliffs, including those of the Catlins, a vast forest and coastal reserve, which is popular with outdoor enthusiasts. Not surprisingly, the regions wildlife is a big draw, with onshore colonies of penguins and albatrosses on the scenic Otago Peninsula and around the historic town of Oamaru.

Near the south islands southern tip, Invercargill is the most southerly city in New Zealand. Beyond, remote and rugged Stewart Island is the last stop before Antarctica and the best place to spot New Zealands national icon, the kiwi, in the wild.
About the Author
Douglas Scott works for The Rental Car Hire Specialist. and is a free lance writer for The Dunedin Rental Site
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