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Dunedin & Central Otago

A New Zealand campervan holiday to Dunedin and Central Otago offers a truly unique travel experience. Situated on the southeastern coast of the South Island, Dunedin is known for its Scottish heritage and Victorian and Edwardian architecture, while Central Otago, a short drive inland, offers dramatic landscapes characterised by rugged mountains, rolling plains, and crystal-clear lakes. Dunedin is a city that prides itself on its educational and cultural richness, home to the prestigious University of Otago and an array of museums and galleries. Dunedin’s weather can be cooler than other parts of New Zealand, with crisp, clear days perfect for exploring the historic streets or nearby natural attractions.

Central Otago offers a stark contrast with its semi-arid terrain, making it perfect for outdoor activities such as biking along the Otago Central Rail Trail and wine tasting at some of New Zealand's highest altitude vineyards. The region's dry climate and dramatic seasonal changes serve as a stunning backdrop for adventure and relaxation alike. Park up overnight in a Dunedin holiday park or find a secluded spot near one of Central Otago's picturesque lakes. With the convenience of your campervan, you can comfortably switch between urban exploration in Dunedin and remote escapes in the wilds of Otago. Whether you're drawn to Dunedin's cultural scene or the rugged beauty of Otago’s outdoors, this region promises a memorable experience.

 

Why explore Dunedin & Central Otago by campervan

Exploring Dunedin and Central Otago by campervan is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the region's unique blend of cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty. With a campervan, you dictate the pace and path of your journey. In Dunedin, you can easily navigate from the bustling shopping centre to quiet, windswept beaches along the Otago Peninsula. In Central Otago, the freedom to roam allows you to discover hidden gems, from secluded vineyards to historic gold mining towns, all at your own pace. The ability to spontaneously decide where to go next, from a morning exploring Dunedin’s architectural marvels to an afternoon tasting pinot noirs amidst the hills of Central Otago, is a true luxury.

Travelling by campervan not only offers all the comforts of home, including your own kitchen, bed, and living space but also saves you the hassle of packing and unpacking at each new destination. Plus, having your own facilities means you’re never far from a homecooked meal or a comfortable bed, even if you find yourself in the remote reaches of the region.

 

Things to do in Dunedin & Central Otago

Dunedin and Central Otago abound with diverse attractions, blending rich history with exhilarating outdoor pursuits and gourmet experiences. In Dunedin, discover the opulence of Larnach Castle or engage with local history at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. For wildlife lovers, the area offers close encounters with unique species like the yellow-eyed penguin. Moving inland to Central Otago, you can hit the scenic cycle trails, savour exquisite pinot noirs at local vineyards, or try gold panning in Cromwell. Activities like water sports on Lake Dunstan also offer plenty of thrills, ensuring every traveller finds something to cherish.

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Dunedin and Central Otago, situated in the southern part of New Zealand's South Island, are regions steeped in natural beauty and cultural richness. Travelling by campervan allows you to freely explore the varied landscapes – from Dunedin’s rugged coastline to Central Otago’s golden hills – and discover a network of routes dotted with historical sites, quaint towns, and scenic camping spots. Whether cruising through Dunedin’s architectural marvels or winding through the vineyard-clad valleys of Central Otago, each journey is an invitation to delve deeper into the heart of the south. 

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Great savings on your New Zealand road trip

Apollo offers a fantastic selection of deals and specials for those looking to explore New Zealand by campervan. From hot deals and last-minute discounts to long-term hire benefits, you’re sure to find a deal designed to help you make the most of your campervan adventure. 

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Apollo Campervan branches

Christchurch

Setting out from Apollo's Christchurch branch, the road trip through the Canterbury Plains and alongside the Southern Alps is breathtaking, with stops like Lake Tekapo and the historic town of Oamaru enriching your travel experience. 

Queenstown

Departing from Apollo's Queenstown branch, you're perfectly positioned to explore both the adventurous heart of the South Island and the tranquil beauty of Central Otago before reaching Dunedin. 

Auckland

From Apollo Auckland, the multi-day trip to Dunedin and Central Otago – we suggest 10-14 days – offers a comprehensive tour of the North and South Islands, including crossing the Cook Strait by ferry

Auckland City Skyline

Auckland

New Zealand’s multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture.

 

Christchurch City, New Zealand

Christchurch

 One of the world’s most unique destinations.

 

Queenstown

Breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.

 

Helpful tips for visiting Dunedin & Central Otago

 

Climate and seasons in Dunedin & Central Otago

Dunedin and Central Otago offer distinct climate experiences that reflect the diverse landscapes of the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island.

Dunedin enjoys a temperate maritime climate with mild summers and cool winters, tempered by its coastal position.

  • Summer (December to February) are generally mild, with temperatures hovering around 15°C to 22°C, ideal for enjoying outdoor activities along the city’s beaches and exploring the lush Otago Peninsula.

  • Autumn (March to May) sees cooler temperatures and is a great time to witness the changing colours of the city's abundant foliage.

  • Winter (June to August) in Dunedin can be chilly, with temperatures dropping to 5°C to 10°C, but the city’s historical and cultural sites continue to draw visitors.

  • Spring (September to November) rejuvenates the city with mild weather and blossoming gardens, perfect for outdoor adventures before the colder months set in.

Central Otago contrasts sharply with a more continental climate, characterised by hot dry summers and cold winters.

  • Summers see temperatures that can climb above 25°C, making it an excellent time for exploring the region’s famous vineyards and outdoor recreational activities.
  • Autumn brings a dramatic change in landscape colour, particularly vivid in the vineyard areas, with cooler but still pleasant temperatures.
  • Winter sees temperatures often falling below freezing, blanketing the region in snow, which transforms the landscape into a winter wonderland, popular for photography and winter sports.
  • Spring slowly warms up the land, thawing lakes and rivers, and ushering in a season of growth and renewal.

 

 

 

What to pack

Preparing for your campervan adventure in Dunedin and Central Otago requires thoughtful packing to accommodate the varying climates and activities these regions offer. Here’s what to consider bringing along to make the most of your trip:

  • Outdoor gear: Given the diverse environments in Dunedin and Central Otago, versatile outdoor gear is essential. For Dunedin's coastal walks and city explorations, lightweight, breathable clothing will serve you well, complemented by a waterproof jacket for unpredictable showers. Central Otago's more extreme temperatures call for sun hats and high SPF sunscreen in summer, and warm, insulating layers in winter, especially if you plan to engage in snow sports or explore the frosty landscapes.

  • Campervan add-ons: Enhancing your campervan with a few extras can significantly improve your comfort and convenience. A portable heater might be necessary for chilly Central Otago nights, while a fan can keep you cool during the dry summer heat. Additionally, outdoor chairs and a table will expand your living space, perfect for enjoying the scenic views at your leisure.

  • Sun protection: Sun protection is crucial year-round due to New Zealand’s strong UV rays, particularly in the exposed and high-altitude areas of Central Otago. Pack broad-spectrum sunscreen, UV-protective sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat. Insect repellent will also be useful, especially in the warmer months when sandflies and mosquitoes are more prevalent.

For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.

 

 

Nearby attractions and day trips from Dunedin & Central Otago

 

  • The Otago Peninsula tretching along the southern edge of the Otago Harbour, is renowned for its stunning coastal scenery and incredible wildlife. This area is a haven for nature lovers, offering opportunities to see rare yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals, and the only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross in the world. The peninsula’s rolling hills and rugged cliffs provide perfect vantage points for breathtaking views and photography.
  • Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only castle, offers a glimpse into the country’s colonial past, set against the backdrop of expansive gardens and the scenic Otago Peninsula. Built in 1871 by William Larnach, a merchant and politician, the castle features beautifully restored Victorian-era rooms and a unique collection of New Zealand antiques. The gardens are a highlight, recognised as a Garden of International Significance, perfect for a leisurely stroll.
  • Baldwin Street in Dunedin is famous for being the world's steepest residential street, attracting visitors from all over the globe. The street offers a challenging but quirky walk, rising significantly over its short 350-metre length.
  • Dunedin Railway Station is a stunning architectural marvel, known as the ‘Gingerbread House’ because of its ornate Flemish Renaissance style. Completed in 1906, the station is one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand. Visitors can admire its detailed mosaic floors, stained glass windows, and grand booking hall. The station also serves as the departure point for scenic railway journeys that explore the spectacular landscapes surrounding Dunedin.
  • Tunnel Beach, just south of Dunedin, offers dramatic coastal scenery with sandstone cliffs, arches, and headlands. Accessible through a short walk that includes a tunnel down to the beach – hand-carved in the 1870s – this spot is perfect for those looking to explore a more secluded part of the coastline. The beach is particularly striking at sunset and is a popular location for romantic walks and picnics.
  • Otago Harbour is a long, narrow inlet associated with the bustling city life of Dunedin and the tranquil beauty of the Otago Peninsula. It's a hub for water activities, including sailing, fishing, and kayaking. The harbour is also a vital part of the local ecosystem, supporting a variety of birdlife and marine species, making it an excellent spot for wildlife watching.
  • Moeraki Boulders, located on Koekohe Beach along the Otago coast, are huge, almost perfectly spherical stones. These natural wonders were created by the cementation of mudstone over millions of years, with some over two metres in diameter.
  • The Catlins Coast, stretching between Balclutha and Invercargill, offers a remote and rugged landscape with a wealth of natural attractions. Visitors can explore dense rainforests and meet unique wildlife. Highlights include Nugget Point with its iconic lighthouse and the dramatic Purakaunui Falls.

For more inspiration, check out our guide to family friendly things to do in Dunedin.

 

Where to stay in Dunedin & Central Otago with a campervan

When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest in Dunedin & Central Otago, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds. Here are a few worth checking out:

Dunedin

 

 

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ blog

The best family-friendly restaurants in Auckland.

Planning to book a campervan hire for a New Zealand road trip to the City of Sails? If you’re looking for some good family restaurants in Auckland to enjoy while you’re there, we’ve got you covered. 

In this handy guide, we’ve rounded up the best family restaurants in Auckland.  From the bustling Auckland Viaduct to quaint corners of the city, we've pinpointed places that cater to every palate, ensuring your campervan holiday is peppered with memorable dining experiences. Whether it's a quick bite or a special meal, these spots promise satisfaction for all ages.

 

Why you should explore Auckland with your family

Sitting near the top of the North Island, Auckland is New Zealand's largest city. It’s also a playground for families seeking a blend of urban excitement and natural wonders. With its stunning beaches, beautiful parks and reserves, world-class attractions, and excellent holiday parks, there’s something on offer for ages and stages. 

The city's family-friendly vibe also extends to its diverse range of eateries. From cosy cafes and tasty takeaways to ethnic cuisine and fine dining, you won’t have to go too far to find great family restaurants in Auckland.

 

What’s the best way to explore Auckland?

When it comes to discovering Auckland's treasures at your own pace, nothing beats the freedom of an Apollo campervan. In fact, our great range of campers are tailor-made for family adventures with spacious interiors, comfortable beds, and essential on-the-go facilities.

Whether you’re travelling with tots or teens, you’ll find the comfort and convenience of an Apollo campervan is hard to beat. Littlies can take a nap or use the bathroom whenever they need to – no worries about heading back to the motel or hunting out a public bathroom! And older kids will benefit from a change in routine, switching off devices, and enjoying some quality family time. There’s something about campervan travel that brings a family together in the best possible way! 

READ MORE: Check out our top 10 tips for campervan road trips with kids.

 

The best family-friendly restaurants in Auckland

Feeling peckish? Park up the campervan and tuck into one of these top family friendly restaurants in Auckland. 

 

Federal Delicatessen

For a slice of the Big Apple right in the heart of Auckland, Federal Delicatessen on Federal Street is your go-to. This spot brings the authentic deli experience down under, making it a fantastic option for families craving a taste of classic American cuisine with a Kiwi twist. The laid-back atmosphere, combined with a menu brimming with comfort food, makes it an inviting place for both adults and kids.

One of the standout dishes worth trying is the Salmon Latkes - crispy potato pancakes topped with lox, crème fraîche, and dill, perfect for sharing. And for the sweet-toothed, the NY cheesecake is a guaranteed hit. 


Mexico Britomart

Nestled in the heart of Auckland's bustling Britomart precinct, Mexico Britomart offers a lively and colourful dining experience perfect for families looking to spice up their meal times. Celebrating the fresh and vibrant side of Mexican cuisine, this restaurant is a feast for the senses, from its eclectic decor to its flavour-packed dishes.

Families will appreciate the welcoming atmosphere and the menu's variety – even the pickiest eaters find something to love! A must-try is their range of soft tacos, customisable with fillings to suit all tastes. With gluten-free and vegan options aplenty, Mexico Britomart caters to every dietary need, making it one of the best family restaurants in Auckland. 


Azabu

Tucked away on Ponsonby Road, Azabu Ponsonby is a gem that brings a slice of Tokyo to Auckland. Known for its award-winning Japanese cuisine, Azabu makes dining out with the family an adventure in culinary exploration. The restaurant's modern twist on traditional Japanese dishes, combined with a vibrant atmosphere, makes it an exciting choice for family meals.

Azabu's menu, rich with Nikkei-influenced dishes, offers something for everyone. A standout for families is the selection of sushi and sashimi, prepared with the freshest local ingredients. 


Non Solo Pizza

In the mood for pizza? You can’t beat Non Solo Pizza. This beloved spot, located in the historic suburb of Parnell, is renowned for its warm ambience and a menu that pays homage to the rich culinary traditions of Italy. 

The wood-fired pizzas, with their crispy bases and flavourful toppings, are a hit among kids, while adults can indulge in the array of pasta dishes, succulent steak, roasted pork belly, or chicken cotoletta. Yum! The inviting garden bar and the lively dining room provide the perfect backdrop for family meals.


Burger Burger

Who doesn’t love a good burger, right? Our top pick for mouthwatering, tummy-filling burgers the whole family will love is Burger Burger. With locations sprinkled across Auckland, this burger haven is known for its commitment to quality, serving up gourmet burgers that are sure to please. The casual, vibrant atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for a relaxed family dinner, where everyone can unwind.

Burger Burger's menu is a testament to their love for burgers, offering a variety of options from classic beef and cheese to more adventurous choices. One of the crowd-pleasers is the Lasagne Topper burger, packed with lasagna, pancetta, pesto mayo, and parmesan. Paired with their famous hand-cut fries and a side of homemade aioli, it's a meal that promises satisfaction in every bite. And you can add extras to any burger so that it’s made just the way you want it. 


Ortolana

Known for its commitment to fresh, local produce, Ortolana is a charming bistro that brings the essence of the garden to your table, making it a special spot for families who appreciate the farm-to-table concept.

Located in the heart of Britomart, Ortolana's inviting atmosphere and open kitchen design allow families to enjoy a meal in a setting that feels both intimate and inclusive. The menu, rich with dishes that highlight the season's best, offers something for every palate. From morning brunches with freshly baked scones to leisurely lunches featuring artisanal pasta, Ortolana definitely belongs on the list of top family restaurants in Auckland.  


Prego

Another Ponsonby Road family favourite, Prego is a cornerstone of Auckland's dining scene, offering a slice of Italy right in the heart of the city. Since 1986, this licensed Italian restaurant has been serving authentic Italian cuisine coupled with warm, award-winning service. 

Prego's menu offers a wide array of dishes that cater to various dietary needs, including halal meats and vegan options upon request. Families can dive into a range of pizzas and pastas, with gluten-free options available, ensuring a satisfying dining experience for all. 


Mekong Baby

Also located on Ponsonby Road, Mekong Baby offers a unique dining experience that transports families to the heart of Southeast Asia. This bustling restaurant and bar is celebrated for its innovative take on fusion cuisine, blending traditional flavours with a modern twist. 

The menu at Mekong Baby is simply mouthwatering, with flavoursome dishes designed to be shared and savoured. Families can enjoy a variety of offerings, from succulent meats to fresh, zesty salads. A standout dish that's sure to be a hit with all ages is the braised pork belly, perfectly balanced with tangy Asian slaw. 


Baduzzi

Situated in the bustling North Wharf area on Auckland’s waterfront, Baduzzi is known for its exceptional service and a menu that pays homage to the rich traditions of Italian cuisine, all while embracing the spirit of Aotearoa.

Baduzzi is a fantastic choice for families, thanks to its welcoming atmosphere and a menu that caters to all ages. The restaurant prides itself on its handmade meatballs – choose from crayfish, wild red deer, slow-cooked lamb, or vegetarian options. You’ll also find a tasty selection of handmade pasta, succulent seafood, and delicious desserts. 


Bao & Noodle

Located on Lorne Street, Bao & Noodle is a culinary gem serving up authentic Chinese cuisine. Bao & Noodle is particularly appealing to families due to its focus on traditional recipes and high-quality ingredients, like their Sichuan peppers sourced directly from Sichuan. 

The restaurant's open kitchen allows diners to watch as chefs skillfully prepare handmade dumplings, adding an element of entertainment to the dining experience. With menu highlights such as DanDan noodles and sauced pork buns, Bao & Noodle offers dishes that are sure to captivate the taste buds of both young and old, making every family meal a memorable one.

 

Where to stay with your family in Auckland

Finding the perfect Auckland holiday park or campground is key to a memorable campervan adventure. Whether you're after the simplicity of a council campsite or the full suite of amenities offered by holiday parks, Auckland has plenty of great options to suit every family. 

For a detailed look at the top picks, dive into our guide to the 10 best family-friendly campgrounds near Auckland. From beachfront retreats to chilled-out bush settings, discover the ideal base for your family's exploration of this vibrant city and its stunning surroundings.

 

Looking for things to do with your family in Auckland?

With your accommodation all set, it's time to fill your travel itinerary with exciting activities. The city is brimming with family-friendly attractions, from museums and galleries to lush parks and thrilling adventure activities. Whether you're looking to immerse in the local culture, enjoy the great outdoors, or simply have fun, Auckland has something for everyone. 

Get inspired and start planning your family's adventure with our guide on 15 family-friendly things to do in Auckland

 

Ready to book your Auckland family road trip?

From the vibrant flavours of Southeast Asia at Mekong Baby to the authentic Italian fare at Baduzzi, Auckland’s family friendly restaurants each offer a unique taste of the city’s diverse food culture. Ready to try a few out? Book your Apollo campervan online today, pick it up from our convenient Auckland branch and start planning your unforgettable, flavour-filled Auckland road trip now!

 

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