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Art & Heritage

6 Dunedin heritage places to visit with kids

  • 4 minutes

Otago, South Island

Let’s get the kids yourself to places where there is something to engage young minds so that your holiday peace continues. From summer in the Dunedin Botanic Garden to winter ideas indoors there is plenty to engage kids. A Chinese Scholar’s Garden reflects the heritage roots of Chinese gold miners while the Settlers Museum offers kids a bicultural value system for looking at the world. The Dunedin Street Art Trail is great for strollers, passing cafes and restaurants where everyone can take a break.

Every family has a collector of historic objects, of geological objects or of gemstones found at the local beach, so the Museum of Natural Mystery is a perfect place to foster an interest in heritage, history and the meaning of objects.

Street art painted by Pixel Pancho from Italy, Dunedin, New Zealand Street art painted by Pixel Pancho from Italy, Dunedin


Dunedin Botanic Garden summer days, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Dunedin Botanic Gardens summer days

Why go?

History is more interesting when there is a tea kiosk nearby. Nineteenth century heritage gardens worthy of any history trail

Facts for kids

  • First public garden in New Zealand established in 1863
  • Get free food from information centre to feed ducks
  • Dunedin Botanic Garden was awarded a rank of “Garden of International Significance” by the New Zealand Gardens Trust

Check out the playtrail for kids brochure in Dunedin Botanic Garden article.


Gardens Corner Entrance Gates erected in 1925.

These massive gates and their supporting pillars were erected in 1925. They were relocated from the property of Mr WS Dawson and purchased for a sum of £30. It cost another £165 to have them altered and erected. William Dawson was a Dunedin Mayer (1877) and his home ‘May Villa’ was a palatial edifice, crammed with treasures from all parts of the world. Even his pets were exotic, one being a chimpanzee.

He was one of the founders of Speights Breweries.


Planted out in 1934 using Box (Buxus sempervirens), this is an Elizabethan style Knot Garden and a replica of the one in Shakespeare’s own garden at his property in Stratford on Avon. The name of a knot garden is because the pattern often includes a design in which plants are planted to resemble a knotted rope


  • A knot garden is a garden of very formal design in a square frame, consisting of a variety of aromatic plants and culinary herbs including germander, marjoram, thyme, southernwood, lemon balm, hyssop, costmary, acanthus, mallow, chamomile, rosemary, Calendula, Viola and Santolina. Source Wikipedia
Dunedin Botanic Garden entrance, New Zealand
Dunedin Botanic Garden entrance, New Zealand



Sheer size, variety and it is contemporary in subject matter. Check Dunedin street art: heritage buildings got a serious lick of new paint it is inspiring for all age groups. Check in the Travel Pack Information section for the Street Art Trail map describing the art. Kids will not have to do lots of walking and it is a great option for families when you have a buggy / stroller to content with.

Street art painted by ROA from Belgium which is located in Dunedin, New Zealand Street art painted by ROA from Belgium which is located in Dunedin
Dunedin street art Dunedin street art




Why go?

The bicultural interpretation of events is informative and encourages kids to look at the world through a different lens.

Kids will enjoy Otago Museum‘s science discovery centre Tuhura stimulates questions and is very interactive for kids to engage the thought processes.

A bicultural approach to explain the natural world and it’s forces. Science and cultural values are placed side by side to encourage kids to look at the world in new and different ways. The museum has a tropical butterfly house which is heated to 28 degrees+ with vibrant butterflies flitting in open spaces. There is also a planetarium check out one of the planetarium shows on your visit.



It is something different from standard public gardens. The formality and design is reflected in the use of buildings, winding paths and colour.

Lan Yuan Dunedin Chinese Gardens celebrates the legacy of Chinese immigration to New Zealand. The garden has a tea house where kids can experience authentic traditional chinese teas and steamed buns and dumplings. The gardens are supported by Toitū Otago Settlers Museum and opposite the Queens Gardens.  There is a dress up section for the kids in the gardens. Visitors are invited to picnic in the grounds, try the puzzles and games and to as too.Come and relax, drink tea, bring a picnic, try some puzzles and games or simply wander and soak up the tranquility of the only truly authentic Chinese Scholar’s Garden in the Southern Hemisphere.

Lan Yuan Garden, The Dunedin Chinese Garden design, Dunedin historic precinct, Otago, New Zealand
Lan Yuan Garden, The Dunedin Chinese Garden

Chinese scholar’s gardens are an art form. The purpose of the garden is to create a restful place from the stress of daily life (homework) and away from worldly pursuits. The art of Chinese gardening stretches back to the Han Period, at least 2,000 years ago. Because Chinese gardening has been a very influential art form it is sometimes called the ‘mother of gardens’.


@The Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery
@The Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery



Is the child a collector? If so, this is the place to visit. It is a private residence and definitely reflects the character of the collector.

Spread over three packed rooms of an old central city villa, this delightful small gallery and Museum of Natural Mystery contains a collection of skulls, bones, biological curiosities, ethnological art and unusual cultural items which artist Bruce Mahalski has collected over a life-time. It is fascinating and a privilege when a private collector opens up his house to view curiosities.



Why go?

The nature of the building with its turrets, winding staircases, servants quarters and the opulence of the interior. It is definitely not your average suburban dwelling.

Larnach Castle is approximately 40 minutes drive from the city centre located on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin, New Zealand. There are well designed activity sheets to keep the kids entertained and learning whilst visiting the rooms in the castle and the gardens outside. This is a great trip combined with a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre.


Dunedin heritage places’ location



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