A few weeks ago I spent the weekend in Dunedin to visit my friend Micaela (check out her blog) for her birthday. The last time I went to Dunedin was over ten years ago with my family so it was like being in a totally new place. We had a great weekend visiting museums, shopping, and of course eating.
I flew in very early on Friday morning so naturally the first stop of the morning was brunch. We ate at The Perc Cafe and I was quickly impressed by the free wifi and availability of almond milk coffees. I was also super excited by the fact that I could get a gluten free Best Ugly Bagel, the hardest part was choosing the topping! I decided on the ‘Bagel of the Week’ which had avocado, mushrooms and grilled halloumi. It was absolutely delicious and a very affordable brunch option at $10. Micaela had one of the brunch stacks which looked equally yummy.
We then had a bit of time to kill before our Cadbury World tour so we wandered around the central city a bit, looking at op shops and visiting the Dunedin Railway Station. The station is a beautifully maintained heritage building and our English friends read a list that put it as the #1 must do thing in New Zealand. I’m not entirely sure I’d agree with that, but it is a cool place to visit, especially when surrounded by blossoms.
We then headed into Cadbury World for our chocolate factory tour. As a chocolate lover this was very exciting and one thing I remember from visiting Dunedin as a child. The tour has changed in recent years and now doesn’t include actually entering working parts of the factory due to health and safety concerns, understandable but disappointing.
The highlight of the tour was definitely getting to eat melted chocolate with various toppings and learning about what the factory makes. The Dunedin factory makes boxed chocolates including Roses and Milk Tray, things containing marshmallow such as Pineapple Lumps and Pinky Bars and of course the iconic Kiwi Jaffas. You aren’t allowed phones or cameras on the tour either so I only have a picture from the cafe! I also had a delicious piece of white chocolate rocky road at the Cadbury World Cafe which had freeze dried cherries and raspberries in it.
I still enjoyed the tour despite not being able to actually see the factory in action. As it was school holidays there were lots of kids on our tour and seeing the joy on their faces was fantastic. I would absolutely recommend the Cadbury World tour if visiting Dunedin with children.
We then headed back to Micaela’s house and enjoyed the sun for the rest of the afternoon in our Cadbury-induced sugar comas.
Saturday morning we started bright and early with breakfast at Ironic. Whilst not the prettiest, I had the portobello mushrooms and ordered a poached egg as an extra. Everything was perfectly cooked and super filling for the busy day ahead. Micaela had the pancakes which look super fluffy and delicious too.
After breakfast we headed across the road to the Otago Farmer’s Market. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so great so not all the usual stallholders were present. The market has a wide range of stalls including produce, meat, bread, cheese, honey, juices and baking.
We then spent most of Saturday wandering the shops. I managed to resist spending too much but did find a reasonably priced dress for graduation. If you’re shopping in Dunedin I would definitely recommend checking out Paper Bag Princess (26 Hanover Street) for a huge range of reasonably priced second hand clothing, and Moi Design (309 George Street). Moi is a gorgeous gift and homeware store tucked away up some unassuming stairs, not to be missed for even just a browse. We made a mid morning coffee stop at Modaks, again I was pleasantly surprised that almond milk was available, Christchurch needs to catch up! The cabinet food looked fantastic too with lots of gluten free and dairy free sweet treats, with plenty of vegan options.
Exhausted from all the shopping and walking, Micaela and I made a lunch stop at Laneway for tapas. We shared garlic chili prawns, patatas bravas, and churros. The food was pretty good, but not the most amazing tapas I’ve ever tasted and the churros were very eggy in the centre. The service was also quite slow which seemed strange given how quiet the restaurant was. It wasn’t a bad lunch, just not one I’d be rushing to repeat.
After lunch we wandered our way through the city looking at street art and finishing up at the Vogel Street Party. We had seen lots of cool stalls and activities advertised but we arrived just as it was starting and there was not a lot happening. We were both pretty tired so we agreed to head home to rest up before our night out. Below are some of my favourite street art pieces.
For Micaela’s birthday celebration we went to Velvet Burger for dinner. They do a BYO deal where it’s $19 for a burger, fries, and corkage. It’s such a reasonably priced meal out, not to mention absolutely tasty. I had the Velvet Lady on a gluten free bun, and it was the type of gluten free bun that didn’t taste like cardboard, always a positive. I was enjoying my wine a little too much to get a photo of the burger but here’s us looking glammed up beforehand.
As a result of our wine drinking and shots with new found friends, Sunday was a bit of a slow start. But it was time to embrace my nerdy side and visit a couple of museums.
We started at Toitū, the Otago Settlers Museum, which I imagined would be all New Zealand early history. I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of exhibits addressing more contemporary topics. My favourite part of Toitū was the display based around the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, which has been documenting the lives of 1000 people born in Dunedin in the early 1970s. There were bedrooms set up to reflect the lives of the people in the study; children in the 70s, teenagers in the 80s and students in the 90s. Of course a highlight for me was seeing a Star Wars poster.
We had our Sunday lunch at Madam Woo, the restaurant Micaela works at. She’d sent me so many pictures of the food I definitely had to try some for myself. Enjoying the perks of staff discount we ordered a LOT of food. We had a hawker roll each (pork for me, eggplant for Micaela), prawn dumplings, sticky chicken wings, duck salad and mushroom spring rolls. It was all absolutely delicious and reminded me a lot of one of my favourite Wellington restaurants, Chow. I have yet to find somewhere in Christchurch serving that style of Asian Fusion food.
We then visited the Otago Museum and paid to enter the discovery section and butterfly garden which was definitely worth the $9 entry (student price). There were snippets that I remembered from when I was little including the giant piano you played with your feet. It was pretty stuffy in the butterfly garden but very cool, there were koi and turtles too. I had a butterfly land on my shoulder and managed to snap a quick picture before it flew away!
Overall, I had a fantastic weekend. It was great to be able to hang out with Micaela and see the sights of a city that I remembered very little of. One of the things that fascinated me most was seeing old buildings. I was fifteen when the Christchurch Earthquake happened and so I have very little memory of what the central city was like pre-quake. Everything in Christchurch has changed so much over that time. So here’s some pictures of old buildings that I really liked.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be back with weekly blog posts on a Wednesday for the foreseeable future.