Dunedin has got to be New Zealand’s trendiest town. It’s the kind of place you know has secrets, and lots of them. It’s where there are nooks and crannies of avo-topped toast and cool cocktails waiting to burst forth for the right kind of visitor. Dunedin is a town that, not only has the kind of youthful buzz that a hip student metropolis has, but also one that carries with it an air of quintessential earthy Kiwi-ness. It’s where you live as a budding art student, a talented fashion designer, a chef with a penchant for paddock-to-plate or even a city-sider with a young family looking for a change.
And its melting pot of people leads to a melting pot of dining options. Here, you’ll find a menu to tickle every type of feaster. From those who delight in forest-foraged grub, to those who revel in fine dining. From those who love chocolate to those who love cheese, to those who want fresh Pāua fished from the sea by a local legend wearing jandals—Dunedin’s got it all.
And of course, we’re in New Zealand. There’s a wine or craft beer to match every. single. dish.
Here’s some of the hottest places to eat and drink like a local in Dunedin right now.
Where better to start than somewhere that epitomizes the coolness of this southern city. Good Good is king of the quirky burger, and an excellent spot to while away a few hours surrounded by art and music. Step into a warehouse that has been graffitied from head-to-toe, lit with neon pink lights and has a caravan pumping out your fave burgers while serving your tap beer to match. Pair your grass-fed beef patty with a Wellington Parrotdog brew for a truly tasty time. Or sink your teeth into a tasty jackfruit burger with a side of tater tots served with parmesan and truffle mayonnaise.
Welcome to fine dining at its, erm, finest. Cosy, intimate and warm, Moiety is one of Dunedin’s newest fine-dining establishments to join the ever-growing crew of exciting offerings. You know you’re in good hands when a menu is short but daring, and Moiety is one such place. The menu is thoughtfully curated using seasonal, local ingredients featuring flavours that have been calibrated in surprising ways. Think beetroot, mandarin, curry with macadamia and tomato. Or ikejime fish, potato, hempso, fennel and sorrel. Pair your intrepid dish with a fine pinot Noir to match from Urbn Vino, which is grown in vineyards in the Central Otago, but whose cellar door is literally next door.
Prohibition Smoke House
In addition to a scrumptious savoury menu, Prohibition Smoke House offers a daring dessert menu, which is decadently enjoyed in this prohibition-inspired bar adorned with neon pink flamingos. Although you’ll find no hint of their sweet treats on their website, don’t be fooled. This secret sweet-tooth hotspot brings some fine tasty delights to the table. We can highly recommend the Prohibition pecan pie, vanilla ice-cream butterscotch moonshine or the lemon posset, apple crisp, sweet biscuit fang, apple crumble. Best served with a zesty cocktail.
Forget avo toast—well, actually don’t, because the guys at Heritage Coffee do serve it when it’s in season—but for now, branch out with a new contender—smashed edamame and peas! Yes, this is brunch to fire up your tastebuds. You’ll find all the classics with a bit of a twist. Try the orange and maple toasted muesli or some beef brisket hash on toasted ciabatta. Heritage serves its coffee from one of Dunedin’s local roasteries—Common Ground. Sip and savour surrounded by beautiful steelwork, created by Dunedin local Lawrence Forbes.
Bay Road Peanut Butter
At Bay Road Peanut Butter, there’s really only one question. Do you like it smooth or crunchy? Born from a desire to create a local, sustainable and healthy peanut butter brand, these guys do exactly what it says on the… jar. Made by the Hastie brothers, a couple of Dunedin locals, these guys source their hi-oleic peanuts—peanuts stuffed full of oleic acid, good, cholesterol-regulating fats to you and me—from Australia and Argentina, mix them up with a bit of healthy Himalayan rock salt, and then roast and grind them in their mini factory. Which also happens to sit next door their cafe where you can pick up a coffee and, you guessed it, peanut butter on toast. You’ll find the locals here returning their eco-conscious, reusable glass jars in exchange for a discount on their next nutty loot.
Ok, we admit that this isn’t exactly on the list as somewhere you can have a meal, but you will not be disappointed with what’s on offer all the same. Chocolate! Dark, silky chocolate. With supporting locals in mind, Ocho Chocolate sources its cocoa beans from farmers in the Pacific Islands. The beans are then shipped to New Zealand where they are hand-crafted into beautiful, authentic, dark chocolate bars. These products consist of two beautiful ingredients only—cacao beans and sugar, lovingly wrapped by hand for an extra personal touch. During your visit you can opt for a chocolate factory tour where you’ll get to try all the velvety chocolate Ocho crafts in one sitting. If you develop a taste for fine choccy though, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Otago Farmer's market
Northern Carpark Dunedin Railway Station
A stroll around Dunedin’s farmer’s market can be enjoyed every Saturday morning. Best relished in the fine Dunedin air with a casual meandering mind to match. You’ll find a varied selection of some of the areas local wares—everything from cheese to veggies to fish and meats. Pick up a new plant for your window box or some seasonal organic fruit to snack on. You can grab a coffee and a crêpe while you wander and soak in the earthy, organic goodness unfolding around you. And if you’re having any trouble finding the right recycling bin once you’ve munched your grub, ask one of the fine recycling folk standing close by to help you recycle right.
Now if you’ve been filling your urban boots so far, this is your opportunity to breathe in some fresh sea air and while away a meal set against the gentle crashing of waves. St Clair’s Beach is a top surf spot, and dipping your bod in the heated saltwater pool is a must. Post swim or surf, The Esplanade is where you’ll want to soak in the salty goodness with a nourishing meal. The views from this seafront spot across the esplanade and out to sea are spectacular, as are the authentic Italian dishes served from breakfast to boozy banquet. Opt for a wood-fired pizza or a hearty pasta dish that feels inspired by nonna’s cooking.
Vault 21 is a fine place for a fancy time. Expect premium cocktails and a contemporary menu set in a suave environment. This is great spot for a girls night out, or a hot date with your SO. Order a prosecco, seat yourself on one of the venue’s heated marble benches and tuck into the cool tapas-style, Asian-fusion menu. You’ll find some interesting dishes here, from crispy chicken steamed buns, to peking duck tacos curated using ingredients from carefully selected suppliers such as local fisheries and farms. Expect a daring menu and a sassy evening of rubbing shoulders with the cool cats of Dunedin.
At only a 15-minute drive from Dunedin, a lunch whiled away at Glenfalloch feels a million miles from the city’s hustle and bustle. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, and brimming with local wildlife, a slow afternoon on the front deck of Glenfalloch’s restaurant offers a moment of respite beneath the hills. Dunedin’s Scottish heritage can be felt here, and if you’re lucky you could be serenaded by a bagpipe or two while you enjoy your seasonal dish. The menu changes, but could include anything from wild rabbit to local Bluff oysters. We recommend getting to Glenfalloch via a scenic tour with one of Dunedin’s slickest forms of transport: a V8-powered trike operated by Experience Dunedin.
Beer lovers, this one's for you. Welcome to Emerson's, Dunedin’s finest working brewery featuring a rich history to match. After spending time in Edinburgh, founder RIchard Emerson returned home to Dunedin with a belly full of Scottish booze and a head full of Scottish determination. His dream was to bring some of the northern hemisphere’s exceptional skill at crafting a premium brew to the southern isles. And where better to do it that in one of New Zealand’s kookiest towns. His dream slowly gathered speed and now sits within a grand space built on old train track lines in north Dunedin. The building offers a nod to the trains that once rumbled across this land. We recommend a tasting paddle so you can get a really good selection of fine wares crafted on site. You’ll also find excellent recommendations for meal pairings to go with each taster on your paddle.
How to get to Dunedin: Fly direct to Dunedin with Air New Zealand and Virgin Airlines from most major New Zealand and Australian airports.
Why not round out your tour with more of the best things to do in Dunedin.
Image credit: Prohibition Smokehouse, Ocho Chocolate, Glenfalloch