Dunedin is an alluring mix of old Scotland and a gold rush town. Throw in a student population, New Zealand's favourite brewery and world-class wildlife spotting, and it becomes a South Island stop-off. Spend a few days meandering along charmingly preserved Edwardian streets or hiking the wild Otago coastline in search of resident penguin colonies. If you're feeling ambitious, you can walk up the length of Baldwin Street, the steepest residential street in the world.
Whether you choose a dorm or private room in Dunedin hostels, you'll have plenty of opportunities to mingle in the communal kitchens. Free Wi-Fi is standard in common rooms, making them popular places for guests to hang out. You can spend a night in Dunedin's former hospital or a 1900s banker house for a touch of European heritage. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resident cat in one Dunedin hostel.
Downtown Dunedin is compact, so accommodation, major attractions and most cafés and bars are in walking distance. The university is in the city centre, and during term time there's a definite student feel around town. St Clair Beach is a quieter neighbourhood to the south. Grab a seafront seat in one of the cafés and watch the local surfers' best moves. If you're in Dunedin for the wildlife, head straight out to the Otago Peninsula. Portobello Road winds along the coast towards the Albatross Centre and Larnach Castle.
Plenty of Dunedin's most popular attractions are best seen by simply taking a walk. Follow the self-guided Street Art Trail to take in the huge paintings plastered around the former industrial district, or attempt to walk up Baldwin Street. You can reward your efforts with a tour of Speight's Brewery, which ends with a free pint. Nature lovers should spend a day on the Otago Peninsula spotting yellow-eyed penguins and royal albatross. New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle, looms over the wild beaches here too.
InterCity bus services link Dunedin to major cities in New Zealand like Queenstown and Christchurch, with rides leaving daily. International travellers can land at Dunedin International Airport, which also receives domestic flights from Wellington and Auckland. Once in the city you can get around via the GoBus network, which will also take you to the Otago Peninsula and the southern beaches. Buy a GoCard direct from your bus driver if you're planning to stay for more than a few days.