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Dunedin Backpackers & Hostels

If architecture, culture and history are your thing then Dunedin will be right up your street. This quirky city is also known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand. But if wildlife and nature is more your thing then why not take a trip to the Otago Peninsula to watch breeding colonies of penguins or the Taiaroa Head to view the only breeding colony of Royal Albatross in the world.

Currently 13 hostels in this area

Filter by Location: View All , Dunedin (7), Otago (6)

Originally surveyed and designed by an Englishman Charles Kettle, Dunedin was settled and perfected by the Scots in the 1850s, when the Free Church of Scotland established a community there. As the provincial capital of the Otago region, Dunedin flourished during the gold rush.

It grew from a quiet town of just under 2000 inhabitants in 1861 to nearly 50,000 by 1861, when it was populous urban centre in New Zealand. The wealth this brought allowed the town councillors to realise Kettle's dream of constructing Dunedin in the image of Edinburgh. He wanted to establish the Scottish city's grandeur, ambition and romance, with many of the buildings constructed using traditional white stone, and the use of "vennels" to separate the streets. 

So successful was this vision that by the end of the 1850s, Dunedin was home to over 12,000 Scottish emigres who brought their natural gift for culture, education and local governance to this otherwise remote part of New Zealand.

The gold mined from the Otago interior brought wealth to the city, and the schools and universities established there were considered to be the best in New Zealand, regardless of the expansion Auckland and Wellington were also witnessing at the time. The public buildings were imposing, a measure of the confidence of the city. 

Post-gold boom, Dunedin stalled but never dwindled. Textile industries emerged to take advantage of the sheep farming in the Otago pasture lands, and what would then have been considered a "tech-boom" in the 1920s and 1930s, it became home to publishers, researchers working out the world-class universities, and other intellectual property concerns. It remains a draw for these industries today, as well as an essential stop on any tour of New Zealand. 


A wonderful city just to stroll around and admire the architecture, Dunedin catches many visitors with the grandeur and opulence of its buildings. That it was once the wealthiest city in New Zealand is immediately evident, and the layout borrows much from the Scottish city of Edinburgh by which Dunedin's founding fathers were inspired. The impressive railway station is referred to as "the outstanding monument of Edwardian architecture in New Zealand, and even Dunedin prison has its architectural merit, winning the 2019 New Zealand Hertiage Conservation award.

There's no better way to enjoy this wonderful city than taking the renowned  Art Street Trail. Artists from around the world have contributed more than thirty murals at various points in the city. Why not finish this ninety minute tour with a visit to Dunedin Public Art Gallery, which specialises in Australasian art. And no visit to Dunedin would be complete without a strenuous trek up Baldwin Street.

Only recently pipped to the title of the world's steepest street by some nondescript and forgettable path in rural Wales, Baldwin Street's 1:2.86 gradient is worth experiencing. The popular jaffa rolling race down the street was stopped in 2017, but stay tuned for its return! Foodies are not neglected either, with a farmers market every Saturday at the railway station, and try the best haggis outside of Scotland at Leckie's butcher on Forbury Road. Tour Speight's Brewery for some free samples, and remember to fill up your water bottle with their free spring water.

With such an imposing city centre, it's easy to forget Dunedin is still a coastal city at heart, and there are many pretty beaches and coves to explore further out along the coast. Aramoana Beach is one of the best spots in the region for photographing the southern skies in, and the nearby town was made infamous by the spree killer David Grey - not that one - in 1990 who massacred thirteen people with an impressive array of semi-automatic firearms.

Enjoy the sunrise point at the end of "the mole", an artificial breakwater which extends 1200 metres into the ocean. To the south of the city lies Tunnel Beach, also know as the most romantic spot in Dunedin. Take the tunnel to enjoy this secluded spot, with its sea carved rock arch and feisty rip tides. 

Coastal Otago

The ruggedness of the Otago interior is mirrored by its coastline. From Dunedin to Oamaru, the scenery somehow suggests hardship, but with this the romance of escape. And it is with that sense that one marvels at the albatrosses fishing and minding their own business. Theirs is truly a beautiful and unmolested part of the world, a more peaceful world than the men leaving for the gold and coalmines would wish for. 

Highway 1 heads inland for part of the journey between Dunedin and Oamaru, but it's worth taking the many minor roads to the coast to enjoy the many stop off points. Shag Point features a lovely walk over the Matakaea Reserve where, if you're lucky, Fur Seals and Yellow Eyed Penguins can be seen.

Further up the coast, and you'll find the Moeraki Boulders. World famous, these massive spherical rocks have been forming for over sixty million years, and form a great background for a photo memento. Oamaru is famous for its Blue Penguin colonies, where the little critters can be seen coming ashore at night. More recently Oamaru has also acquired an unlikely fame as the Steampunk capital of the world, with its festival held on the last weekend of May now a worldwide sensation. 

All Other Backpacker Hostels in This Area

Empire Hotel Backpackers
13 Thames Street, Oamaru, North Otago
+64 (0)3 434 3446
Glenmac Farm Hostel
Gards Road, Kurow, North Otago
+64 (0)3 436 0200
Leviathan Hotel Backpackers
27 Queens Gardens, Dunedin
+64 (0)3 477 3160
Arden Street House
36 Arden Street, Dunedin
+64 (0)3 473 8860
Billy Browns
423 Aramoana Road, Hamilton Bay, Port Chalmers
+64 (0)3 472 8323
Red Kettle YHA
Cnr Cross & Reed Streets, Oamaru, North Otago
+64 (0)3 434 5008
Pavlova Palace Backpackers
74 Elm Row, Dunedin
+64 (0)3 477 4728
Swaggers Backpackers
25 Wansbeck Street, Oamaru, North Otago
+64 (0)3 434 9999
Dunedin Central Backpackers
243 Moray Place, Dunedin
+64 (0)3 477 9985
On Top Backpackers
12 Filleul Street, Dunedin
+64 (0)3 477 6121
Chalet Backpackers
296 High Street, Dunedin
+64 (0)3 479 2075
Hogwartz Backpacker Hostel
277 Rattray Street, Dunedin
+64 (0)3 474 1487
Chillawhile Backpackers
1 Frome Street, North End, Roberts Park, Oamaru, North Otago
+64 (0)3 437 0168