Grabaseat Destination: Dunedin

Yellow Eyed Penguins – no they’re not the Los Angeles hip hop quartet who rose to fame with their singles ‘Where is the Love’ and ‘My Humps’. You’re thinking of the Black Eyed Peas. The penguins are one of several rare and exciting species you’ll probably see on a trip to Dunedin, along with fur seals, Royal albatrosses and Hooker’s sea lions (no we’re not sure how they got their name, but a paying client’s a paying client, right?).

Dunedin’s really big on the natural stuff – as well as the wildlife, it has amazing beaches, cliffs, parks and gardens – but then it also has this kind of weird arty vibe too which helps it stand out from every other city in the country. An arty vibe will do that – remember that guy at school who never mixed very well at parties but kept painting those really lifelike, soulful portraits of the PE teacher that made you think the two of them must DEFINITELY be doing it? Well Dunedin is like that guy.

You want to know where the city got that ‘alternative’ feel from? It was founded by English and Scottish families who moved here from across the Tasman because they felt Australia was too warm. Now, we can think of plenty of reasons not to live in Australia, but the higher temperatures are not generally one of them. What sort of person chooses a new home because they like how cold it is? An interesting person, for starters.

City highlights include the majestic Larnach Castle, which is New Zealand’s only castle – so maybe everyone should drop ‘Larnach’ and just refer to it as ‘The Castle’. We have two important pieces of information about the place: you can stay overnight there, and it’s probably haunted, so … sleep well!

You should also probably visit Baldwin St, the world’s steepest street – each year in July, the locals roll Jaffas down it in a well-loved annual event. That’s Jaffa with two F’s, by the way, not one (although we suspect the odd Ponsonby wanker with oversize sunglasses gets an occasional nudge in the right direction.)