Destination Showcase: Dunedin, New Zealand with Katy Winton and Joe Nation
South Island Road Trip – Step Three
Photography & Lyrics: Jay French
Riders: Katy Winton and Joe Nation
Ōtepoti – Dunedin, is the southernmost of New Zealand’s major centres, looking very traditional at first glance, it draws inspiration from its Scottish roots. Being one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Ōtepoti Dunedin does a fantastic job of blending the old with the new. With a reputation as a student town, Dunedin is known for being quite progressive, which is delightfully juxtaposed with its architecture reminiscent of mid-1800s Scotland, as well as its corresponding street names and suburbs.
Scarves, student street parties and some pretty cold winters come to mind when you think of the area, but there’s so much more going on here. What struck us most about our visit to Dunedin was the variety and quality of places to eat here. There are so many great little cafes, brasseries and restaurants all over the city, and they are all fantastic. From the Steamer Basin brewery, hidden down an unnamed alleyway covered in street art, to the upscale restaurant; Buster Greens, where the food is so good you might not even want to go anywhere else. There is interesting art throughout the city and a great mix of people and cultures, giving the city an infectious energy that keeps people coming back.
Ōtepoti – City of Dunedin.
Dunedin has invested in its exterior and mountain bikers in the area are benefiting from it. Most of the Dunedin constituency is close to the city. The city stretches along the Otago Peninsula and is built on the hillside. Some of these hills are also quite steep, giving Ōtepoti the title of “home of the steepest street in the world” – Baldwin Street.
More and more locals are discovering mountain biking and the local scene is booming. There are tracks that take you around bays and over rolling coastal hills, to gnarly rock gardens and jump lines, you can find it all here. Mix your horseback riding with a dip in the saltwater pools, a surf on one of the many beaches or go hunting for wildlife. You might see seals, penguins or even albatrosses here.
Nicols Creek and Whare Flat
Nicols Creek consists of two key trails, the Nicols Creek Switchback trail, a flowing two-way blue trail that winds up the hill through beautiful native bush, and Nicols Enduro, a downhill only, very black diamond, root rowdy fest, part of the 3 Peaks Enduro.
The Mountain Bike Otago team has been hard at work completing the upper portion of this trail, which will connect it to the Swampy Ridge Trail and open up options for larger loops. They are currently using donations to fund the heli-gravelling of the upper sections, and they are getting closer now.
Whare Flat is a trail center in a managed forest block, where you will find many blues and blacks nestled in the forest. Lots of fun little jump tracks and loads of options for doing loops, best to avoid this one in the wet.
Signal Hill is probably Dunedin’s best known equestrian area. It has been home to Oceania mountain bike champions for many years and is home to one of the most infamous rock gardens in the country. The prominent relief offers a panoramic view of the city, where you will also find a monument and two bronze statues dedicated to New Zealand’s centenary.
It’s not all racing lines, however. Popular local brewery Emersons has invested in creating a phenomenal rock climbing trail in the town’s main equestrian area, to help promote cycling and get people outdoors. Trails like this make it easy to get up the hill and do tricks. The new trails being built on Signal offer a wider range of downhill options than some of the slightly more advanced trails that came before them.
Head to Emersons Brewery after your ride and thank them for making your climb easier with a beer and a meal. The brasserie itself is excellent and also serves delicious food. It is obvious.
Head into town for dinner, there is so much to offer. If you like good pizza, find Pizza Bar. Its plain surroundings don’t hide the popularity of this place very well, bustling with people, the simple menu only gives you a few options, but what else do you need? They know how to make fantastic pizzas and serve them with some great drink options.
Once you’re done, head to the peninsula where you can watch a beautiful sunset over the city. Discover this famous cabbage tree on your way, then end your day surfing at one of the many spots along the coast. Dunedin was previously dubbed “the cold water of Bali”, with some 30 beaches within a 30-minute drive. The surf vibe is strong here. Popular spots like St Clair, St Kilda, Blackhead offer clean sets to something a little heavier like Whareakeake or a trip to the Catlins for those who want it.
There are many great spots along the peninsula and along the coast for a sunrise, a sunset, or the chance to spot some wildlife.
There is certainly more than meets the eye in Dunedin. Bring your bike, your surfboard and your appetite. When the weather is nice, the city comes alive. Especially during the university term, the student population increases, so the nightlife can also be very attractive. Come horseback riding, explore the beaches, spot the wildlife and stay for the food!