What to see and best things to do
Wildlife is the top rated activity on the Otago Peninsula yet the intriguing lime kiln heritage site or an outstanding gardens surrounding a castle wreathed in tragedy are worthy of time spent exploring the Otago Peninsula. From a garden with its award winning restaurant to a restored Edwardian villa the Otago Peninsula offers history buffs plenty to do and see.
- Museums showcasing the history of one of New Zealand’s earliest ports
- Port Chalmers, a sailors town with a fascinating heritage trail
- Military installations protecting New Zealand from Tsarist Russia
- Heritage industrial sites where cement’s ingredients were manufactured
- Gardens and historic homes with quirky stories about their former occupants told at Larnach Castle and Fletcher House
Restored heritage lime kilns are one of New Zealand’s earliest industrial sites. Restored Historic Lime Kilns
Approximately 30 minutes from Dunedin CBD
Track overview to Lime Kilns
- Distance: 200m
- Track type: Walking
- Time: 5mins
- Dogs: Dogs not allowed
- Difficulty: easy
About this track
Built in 1865, the Sandymount Lime Kilns provide a fascinating diversion and an example of one of the best preserved lime kilns in the country. A short walk across farmland will bring you to the base of the kilns and provide excellent photo opportunities of the kiln and Harbour Cone in the distance.
VISIT DURATION: 30 minutes
Fletcher House, the Edwardian villa has been beautifully restored as the early twentieth century home of the founder of a business empire.
Fletcher House, Dunedin. The home has been fully restored to its former early twentieth century charm and furnished in the style of the period by the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.
Open 11.00am to 4.00pm daily for guided tours, weekends.
Admission fee applies
VISIT DURATION: 1 HOUR
OTAGO REGIONAL MUSEUM, PORTOBELLO
A series of buildings house machinery, vehicles and documents reflecting the lives of Portobello inhabitants.
The Otago Peninsula Museum is run by local volunteers who along with a hardworking committee manage the exhibits, grounds and buildings.The museum is open on Sunday afternoons from 12.30-3.30pm. Location: Otago Peninsula Museum & Historical Society. 17 Harington Point Road, Portobello, Dunedin 9014
Anyone who is interested in vintage caravans is going to enjoy the 1950’s cute caravan on display
VISIT DURATION: 1 ½ HOURS PORTOBELLO
Do not forget to check out Portobello’s happy hens shop. Happy hens were created in Portobello and remain endearing champions for the Otago Peninsula as well as gifts that are unique to Otago.
PORT CHALMERS MARITIME MUSEUM & HERITAGE TRAIL
Port Chalmers is a delight for art, culture and heritage fans. The stories of rowdy sailors, the large number of pubs lends itself to tales fascinating visitors today. Check out Port Chalmers heritage trail. Port Chalmers is a cruise ship visitor’s initial introduction to Dunedin. This has created a well developed visitor hospitality scene with local artists, boutique shops catering to this market.
A magical homage to a wife and family Larnach castle and the family was best known for tragedy from the deaths of two wives at 38 years, the death of a daughter and the suicide of the owner, William Larnach while attending Parliament in Wellington. Love affairs between a very young wife and a son, family squabbles and accusations of betrayal led to the property falling into disrepair. Today the grand estate is surrounded by an extensive garden, beautifully restored interior and accommodation for guests. For opening hours and booking details contact Larnach Castle & Gardens – New Zealand’s Only Castle – Dunedin Tourist Attraction
VISIT DURATION: 2 HOURS (excluding cafe visit)
FORT TAIAROA AND A DISAPPEARING GUN
A secret fort, hidden in underground tunnels lies beneath the Northern Royal Albatross Centre. The restored 1886 Armstrong Disappearing Gun. Learn why the gun was placed in this remote location. Heritage NZ describes Search the List | Fort Taiaroa (Including six-inch Armstrong Hydropneumatic Gun and Underground Chambers).
‘The Russian war scares of the 1880s caused the New Zealand Government to erect batteries overlooking the harbours of the four main centres. The strategic position at Taiaroa Head gave excellent control over ships approaching Otago Harbour. Local stone was used by prison labour with outstanding skill to form the underground galleries and storage for the gun emplacement. The six-inch Armstrong hydro-pneumatic disappearing gun is still in sound condition except for an incomplete breech mechanism.
Fort Taiaroa is an excellent example for a military fortification of a bygone era. The kids might ask the question: what is Tsarist Russia and they are coming now?
Kids will love the story of being on duty, watching and waiting for enemy ships.
To book tours of Fort Taiaroa connect the Alabtross Centre. This tour is usually combined with a wildlife experience tour.
VISIT DURATION: 2 ½ HOURS (INCLUDING WILDLIFE TOUR)
The marae is a key place where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. Every three years the marae hosts a special Treaty of Waitangi Festival to commemorate their important contribution to the signing of the document. The marae is an important centre for Ngāi Tahu life in Otago. The marae is private property and for a visit to the marae contact Otakou Marae.
If the Marae is not open do not walk onto the site unescorted. Across from the marae front entrance is a stunning view of the grounds and buildings.
VISIT DURATION: 15 minutes to several hours
Unique journeys, personal adventures.