Written by Kōkako Managing Director, Mike Murphy
Landing in Dunedin is always special. If, like me, you are bit dithery and just happen to leave your expensive water bottle on the plane you’ll probably find the airport staff go above and beyond to find it, something that would probably not happen in larger cities. Genuine and warm southern hospitality is always on offer and you’ll find it not just at the airport but also at some of the best hospitality spots around the city.
With Kiwi’s not being able to travel to Sydney or Melbourne up until recently surely it makes more sense to hop on a plane to Dunedin and spend your hard-earned dollars with our southern mates. You'll still get to enjoy the amazing character buildings like those in Collingwood (Melbourne) — many of which are being turned into interesting hospitality venues and lofts (hello Vogel Street) whilst a visit to the St Claire Pool is like going to a less populated Bondi Icebergs Pool, but nippier.
A walking tour of Dunedin is always a visual delight for any architecture fan and you can thank the Scottish settlers for creating interesting and enduring architecture which, unlike Auckland, appears to be preserved, respected and rejuvenated. If modern architecture is more your thing you’ll be pretty stoked to stumble across EBB, a newly opened boutique Hotel on Filleul Street in the heart of the city.
Ok, full disclosure, we are a bit biased – we are fortunate to have partnered with EBB for both their in-room coffee and their onsite café, but surely this will only give you even more motivation to rest your head there. It’s the first hotel in New Zealand to offer a specialty coffee in-room pour over (using the Kalita dripper and our 70/30 filter blend) and the mini bar is like a roll call of respected Kiwi snack brands – the 70% cacao Papua New Guinea chocolate from OCHO is so good. If you do end up leaving your room you’ll find EBB Café on the ground floor, helmed by the respected Dunedin chef Alison Lambert and offering our Mahana Blend from a custom painted La Marzocco Linea PB.
Designed by architect Gary Todd the 27 room hotel is so slick you might at first drive right past it. The entrance to the carpark sees you driving through the middle of the building through an art-covered atrium. It’s quite the arrival. EBB is owned by a local family, the Cazemier’s, and they have poured their heart and soul into creating a hotel that is of international design standards but still makes you feel like you’ve arrived at your best mates house; the service if friendly and totally unpretentious.
At beer-o’clock it’s worth a walk over to Emersons Tap Room; despite the fact that this is now part of the Lion empire it’s pretty cool to still see the founder Richard Emerson still pouring beer flagons from the tap-room while you sip on his latest frothy creation. If you want to go super-local check out NEW NEW NEW; their beers are crazy and interesting, and the branding is super fun. Then head over to Good Good (there seems to be a theme here!) on Vogel Street for a burger to soak up all the beer; they have incredible burgers (they have good vegetarian and GF options too) served in a converted character warehouse.
A perfect Saturday morning starts at Catalyst, a brick-lined cafe on Princes Street with vaulted ceilings and a mezzanine seating nook. Tom Addis and the team at Catalyst are passionate about health and wellbeing, and this is reflected in their progressive menu with options for pretty much every dietary need. Apart from solid Kōkako espresso they’ll also pour you a nitro cold brew on tap, or brew you a single origin filter coffee on their Moccamaster. After breakfast head over to the unmissable Otago Farmers Market, on every Saturday morning at the central railway station. If you flip these two stops around and are there early enough you might see Tom from Catalyst stocking up on fresh produce for his cafe before you head over.
Catalyst, 286 Princes Street, Dunedin Central
In the evening we'd recommend a fun dinner at Comes First Diner, who serve organic chicken & comfort food with the craftiest beer and natural-ist wine list in town.
It’s also worth checking out the Dunedin Art Museum, and if you have wheels head out to Lanarch Castle on the Otago Peninsula, stopping at the Portobello Pub for a meal. If your belly is still asking for sustenance go for dinner at Best Cafe; a traditional seafood restaurant with a classic retro interior. Side-on and Buster Greens Foodroom won't disappoint you either.
If you still think Dunedin is just for students then think again.