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Coastal Otago

South Island

Located along the southeast coast of the South Island, the Coastal Otago is a region of New Zealand known for its architecture, history, wildlife and breathtaking coastal scenery. The second largest city in the South Island, Dunedin is the most Scottish city in the Southern Hemisphere. Its name comes from the Gaelic name of Edinburgh “Dùn Èideann”. As early as 1848, many Scottish people settled there and founded the city, before thriving thanks to the gold rush in full swing in neighboring Central Otago in the 1860s.

The city has preserved this Scottish soul, which is reflected in its remarkable Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Special mention goes to the station and the city university. The university is the oldest and largest in the country, which gives Dunedin a festive atmosphere with its many bars, concert halls, but also a dynamic artistic scene with its works of street art and its museums. Nature is also present in Dunedin, with the magnificent beaches of St Clair and Tunnel Beach just south of the city.

But it’s in the east of Dunedin that the region’s natural richness begins to flourish with the Otago Peninsula, home to New Zealand’s wildlife. This is where you can easily see the endemic fauna of the country: sea lions, fur seals, pygmy penguins, yellow-eyed penguins, albatrosses and many other species of birds. This hilly peninsula offers incredible coastal landscapes, suitable for walking, to observe wildlife and superb beaches it is possible to swim. We recommend a stop in the small village of Portobello for a lunch in a charming atmosphere. Don't miss Larnach Castle - the only castle in NZ! - and its magnificent garden, one of the historic places in the region where it is even possible to sleep.

North of Dunedin, the town of Oamaru with its Victorian cut stone architecture also offers a real journey back in time. A festival takes place every year in late November to celebrate the Victorian era, and another in early June on the theme of Steampunk, a literary genre based on an alternate history (imaginary future) of the industrial revolution and the Victorian era. We invite you to visit the city museum on this subject. Oamaru is also the ideal place to observe the little blue penguins that nest on the city's beaches.

Between Dunedin and Oamaru, a stop on the beach of Koekohe will allow you to observe one of the most famous geological attractions of the country: the Moeraki Boulders, perfectly spherical rock concretions of underwater origin, dating from several millions of years and brought to light over time by coastal erosion.

For cycling enthusiasts, the region is the starting point for the Otago Central Rail Trail which will take you to Clyde. After a ride on the tourist train of the Taieri Gorge, you will begin your adventure in Middlemarch by traveling through the Maniototo region. The city of Omararu marks the end of the famous Alps to Ocean trail, a multi-day bicycle tour that begins in the Mackenzie region.

It would be a shame to miss out on the riches of the Coastal Otago, often set aside for lack of time. Lovers of wild life, architecture, history and wild coastal atmospheres, it is certain that this region will not leave you unscathed.

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