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Art & Heritage

8 glorious monuments to visit in Dunedin

  • 3 minutes

The choice of monuments and statues worth visiting in Dunedin is large. From contemporary public statements about Dunedin to historic monuments acknowledging individual contributions. Monuments and sculptures always make for great selfies and holiday photos. Choose from a Kuri (dog) to massive molars to stalwart southern bloke. There is even a glorious train engine to choose for your photo moment. Kids don’t miss out with the Dunedin Botanic Gardens offering an enormous worm to climb over.

Dunedin Northern Cemetery, New Zealand @DunedinStadium
Dunedin Northern Cemetery @DunedinStadium


Tombstones, the stories of individual lives, are found at Dunedin Northern Cemetery. It is located on a sloping site on a spur of Signal Hill close to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. Visitors will have no difficulty in tracking down the monumental mini Larnarch’s mini castle chapel in the cemetery. Lararch’s memorial to a life of extravagant displays of wealth was capped with the soaring 17m spire of the memorial chapel. The mausoleum designed by architect RA Lawson in 1881 in the gothic revival Victorian style modelled on the First Church situated in The Octagon.


Visit in late spring when the heritage roses are at their best, spilling over tombstones and grave sites.


Six large molars (wisdom teeth) formed from concrete and Oamaru stone are unmissable. The sculpture by Wellington artist Regan Gentry, titled Harbour Mouth Molars is in two rows on the edge of the foreshore, at Kitchener Street Park.  A perfect place for a selfie for all dentistry and medical students.

Dunedin Harbour and Coast, New Zealand @Dunedin Tours
Dunedin Harbour and Coast @Dunedin Tours
Kuri (Dog) sculpture, Dunedin, New Zealand @Otago Daily Times
Kuri (Dog) sculpture, Dunedin @Otago Daily Times


Otago now has a guard dig keeping an eye out for the people and environment. The 3m sculpture called Kuri (Dog) is located by the Otago Yacht Club. Sculptor Stephen Mulqueen said the sculpture was designed to look up towards the harbour entrance as a cultural guardian looking after Dunedin and surrounds. The sculpture is constructed with macrocarpa (timber) and perched on a railway spike nail. The railway worker slang for a railway spike was dog.

A perfect selfie for all train enthusiasts.


The 1.2 tonne, cast in bronze statue is the work of artist Sam Mahon. The Southern Man greets visitors and is the first selfie location. The theme of endurance, ruggedness, individualism and stoicism is captured deftly. The gift from Speights Brewery in 2000 quashed the rumors there are a dozen of Speight’s beer inside. According to the Centre of Contemporary Art in Christchurch, Sam Mahon’s sculpture is the largest equestrian monument in New Zealand. Mahon chose to complete most of the sculpture at his studio and workshop in the former Waikari Mill. Source Scoop April 2000.

Southern Man sculpture, Dunedin, New Zealand
Southern Man sculpture, Dunedin

In Exchange Plaza are bronze penguins about 60cm tall. In fact they are double the height of the average blue penguin. A favourite penguin is wearing a business suit and carrying a mobile phone with a wad of paperwork. The penguin statues were sponsored by Edinburgh Holdings. The name of the artwork is “We are not alone”  The artist Parry Jones installed it in August 1999. Jones’s other public statutes include, Sir Edmund Hilary (pioneer mountaineer and first person to climb Mt Everest) at Mt Aoraki, a sea lion at St Clair beach in Dunedin and a large bronze of Pelorus Jack in the Marlborough Sounds.

@14 Weeks Worth of Socks @14 Weeks Worth of Socks
@14 Weeks Worth of Socks @14 Weeks Worth of Socks
Botanic Garden Ouroboros, Dunedin, New Zealand @DunedinStadium
Botanic Garden Ouroboros, Dunedin @DunedinStadium


Dunedin Botanic Gardens is home to a number of public art works. A family favourite is the tactile sculpture of a worm. Ouroboros the worm is adjacent to the Tea Kiosk. The sculpture is 15.5 metres long, created from stainless steel which is divided into hundreds of rigid and pliable scale-like segments. The segmented worm, on its own landscaped site is draped over the ground allowing kids to climb, sit and even feel the movement of the worm. It is very tactile. The artist is Julia Morison, recipient of Frances Hodgkins Residency for 1999.


A grand steam engine, JA 1274 is spick and span, polished to an inch of steel glory days. The 109.9 tonne steam locomotive and tender JA1274 even had a birthday celebration in 2016 six decades after it was manufactured at the Dunedin Hillside Railway Workshop. The locomotive was the last steam locomotive built by Hillside Workshops, and also for NZR, in 1956. The train now sites in a huge glass buildings on display with not a spec of rust in sight outside the Dunedin Railway Station.

JA 1274 train, Dunedin, New Zealand @Tripadvisor
JA 1274 train, Dunedin @Tripadvisor
Cedars of Lebanon Grove, Dunedin, New Zealand @Exploring Colour
Cedars of Lebanon Grove, Dunedin @Exploring Colour


Cedars of Lebanon Club of Dunedin, the cast bronze Cedar Cone acknowledges the close relationship between the peoples of Lebanon and the revered Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani. The cedar cone sculptured by art Bryn Jones. It is 1.85m in height and 880kg. The material is lead gunmetal. The Cedar Cone was cast by Giltech in eight pieces from an original that was sculpted by artist Bryn Jones.  It is 1.85 metres tall, 1.25 metres wide and weighs 880kgs and was cast in leaded gunmetal. Source Lebanese Society Cedar Cone. The cone is situated in a grassed grove together with two cedar trees and wooden park bench. It is a quiet place in the gardens encouraging people to sit and relax into the moment.

Getting there


Queen Victoria and various worthy Victorian gentlemen did not make the cut in this article. Perhaps they will feature in the following articles about Dunedin public art. There is plenty of scope for ‘Another nine sculptures and monuments in Dunedin”.


Unique journeys, personal adventures.


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