The Otago region of South Island has amazing attractions that can entice any visitor. If you are looking to engulf into the lap of nature; would like to understand New Zealand history; or want to see and admire some of the country’s finest architectural examples – you will have a long list of such attractions that will keep you occupied for many days. Here I have rounded up 5 Must-Visit Destinations in Otago, New Zealand; you must not miss out on visiting when you plan to spend your vacation in New Zealand.
5 Must-Visit Destinations in Otago, New Zealand
1. Royal Albatross Centre
Taiaroa Head, on the Otago Peninsula, is a great place of its kind. It is home to a range of unique New Zealand wildlife, in addition to the Royal Albatross Centre – which is the world’s only mainland breeding place for these amazing bird species. You can have here the guided tours around the headland, displaying the history and bringing visitors up close to the nesting Royal Albatrosses, Stewart Island shags, sea lions, fur seals, and penguins that called New Zealand coastline home.
It is also home to the Royal Albatross Centre – the world’s only mainland breeding colony for these remarkable bird species. The centre offers guided tours around the headland, showcasing its history as well as bringing visitors up close to the nesting Royal Albatrosses (the breeding area is off-limits for self-guided tours), Stewart Island shags, fur seals, sea lions and penguin species that call this stretch of New Zealand coastline home. This is one of the 5 Must-Visit Destinations in Otago, New Zealand.
2. Steampunk HQ
Over the years the Victorian town of Oamaru; just an hour and a half’s drive away from Dunedin has become New Zealand’s hub for all things steampunk. An annual steampunk festival put the town’s alternative culture on the world stage; but it is Steampunk HQ that keeps this quirky identity alive throughout the year. True to its retro-futuristic affinities, this museum is quite interactive and features a collection of artwork, regular movie screenings, sculpture, and sound exhibits.
Steampunk HQ is its home for all things related to the retro-futuristic convention: movies, sculpture, sci-fi art relics, you name it. The museum, which opened its doors in 2011, is also famous for its a full-scale spit-fire train engine and the heritage building that houses its incredible collections.
3. Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge
Queenstown is popular for extreme sporting initiatives; and the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge is where the world’s first professional bungee jumping operations takes place. This bridge is also part of the Queenstown Trail; a popular walking and cycling terrain that connects Queenstown to Arrowtown and Gibbston. Its namesake river is one of the primary local destinations, for adventurous activities like jet boating and water rafting.
Over 100 years after the bridge was originally constructed, it made a name for itself for another reason; the bridge became the site of the world’s first commercial bungy jump. A.J. Hackett set up operation on the bridge in 1988; with people testing their limits by leaping from the equivalent of a 10-storey building held safe by just a giant elastic band around their ankles. Since 1988, the bridge has primarily been used for bungy jumping and biking.
The Kawarau Bridge has been recognised as Tohu Whenua: Landmarks that tell our stories. Tohu Whenua are the places that have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand. Located in stunning landscapes and rich with stories, they offer some of our best heritage experiences. History comes to life at these landmarks.
4. Taieri Gorge Railway
You can also take a scenic journey across the Taieri Gorge Railway which is a great choice if you want to romance with the Otago region’s diversified landscapes. The trip starts from Dunedin, traversing the Taieri Gorge and River, 10 different tunnels, and a dozen viaducts while it makes its way over to the towns of Middlemarch and Pukerangi. You will also find many minor stops along the way, allowing you to take ample opportunity to take snaps before re-embarking onto the vintage train carriages to see the passing sceneries and listen to the on-board commentary about the area’s history.
The train departs daily from downtown Dunedin into the rugged and spectacular Taieri Gorge. Marvel at the variety in landscapes as the train negotiates this narrow and exhilarating river gorge. We offer full commentary, sightseeing stops, friendly staff and a licensed snack bar. This is an all weather trip not to be missed.
5. Larnach Castle
The historic Larnach Castle was the structure of its kind in New Zealand until quite recently. The castle has had a colorful past. Earlier it is used as a lunatic asylum and has since been restored as a tourist attraction, accommodation, and events venue. It was designed by local banker and politician William Larnach for his first wife Eliza in 1871. It took over 200 builders to construct in three years; further expansion of the original design took another 12 years to complete.
Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only Castle, offers an insight into Victorian Culture. Built from 1871, by William Larnach, Merchant Banker and Politician, Larnach Castle showcases master craftsmanship, New Zealand Antiques and the style of Victorian living.
Learn about Larnach’s three wives, six children… and eventual scandalous suicide in Parliament Buildings.
Beautifully restored and interestingly interpreted by the Barker family who have owned and cared for the Castle since 1967.
Visiting Otago, New Zealand could actually be a wonderful and memorable trip where you must not miss out on checking out above listed destinations.