New Zealand, South Pacific

South Pacific Part 8: Dunedin

Our New Zealand South Island adventure continued to Dunedin; the drive from Lake Tekapo to Dunedin was around 4 hours and we stopped in Oamaru when we passed by many Asian restaurants – it reminded us lunch time! We saw a big Thai food sign and found parking right near the entrance of Bangkok Recipe Oamaru. We were the only customer there – probably early for lunch? The interior did not looked like a Thai restaurant at all!

We sat down, rang the bell and got the lady to came out to hand us the menu…it was probably the least amount of dishes in a Thai restaurant menu! I ordered a spicy vegetable stir-fried beef plate with white rice, it was amazingly spicy which I like:

Brother ordered a stir-fried noodle, it looked more like a lo mien to me but the flavor was okay.

Hubby ordered a fried rice, it was nothing special.

The quick lunch stop gave Jason a break from driving and our chance to use the restrooms. The lunch was $48.90 NZD.

Continued on our way, we saw many cows and sheep!

We finally got to our hotel St. Claire Beach Resort, it’s an upscale boutique hotel located right at the famous St. Claire Beach (I snapped a good discount so I chose it even though it is located outside of Dunedin center). Another reason I was looking at St. Claire Beach was the picturesque wooden poles on the beach that I saw many photographs of during sunrise and sunset. The hotel also has a private underground parking lot (only can fit like 15 cars or less though) but we always managed to get the last spot. The room was comfortable and with UNLIMITED high-speed internet access as well, if you have been reading my previous Cook Islands and New Zealand posts, you know how rare was high-speed unlimited wifi!

Our room:

With a balcony with partial view of St. Claire beach:

We took a short break and then headed out to check out Dunedin. When I told Evita that we are staying in Dunedin for two nights, she was quite shocked because she said there aren’t much to do there for two days. She took a tour there before and only stayed 1 night. Good question……what attracted me to Dunedin was it’s beautiful railway station.

Nope, this is not it hehe, Dunedin has many beautiful architectural buildings like this one:

There were plenty of parking spaces on the street leading to the railway station and it was like $1 NZD for an hour. Across from it is the main attraction – Dunedin Railway Station! Isn’t this beautiful? In London, we have seen many grand railway stations but this is has a unique style that caught my eyes! I like the white outline with the grey-ish bricks exterior – it reminded me of a gingerbread house, maybe I should say gingerbread castle 🙂

Also, I was surprised on how quiet it is since Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island, almost no tourists at all!

It’s free to walk into the railway station, by the way, the sightseeing trains leave from this station; they are expensive though! The train station platform is very classic stylish too!

It made very good backdrops for photos!

Look at how happy my brother was 🙂

You think the exterior and the platform looked nice? …….wait till you see its grand interior!

The beautiful tile floors and the staircase to the 2nd floor:

It looked more like a mansion than a train station!

One of the section housed the Sports Hall of Fame.

It’s quite a unique train station, plenty to photograph.

You can purchase the sightseeing trains inside the ticket counters in there.

The tile floor is a masterpiece!

Outside of the train station, there are toilets, Jason said it’s free and clean 🙂


Closer look to one of the sightseeing trains:

And inside a glass building has this very old train to exhibit:

A closer look to one of the flower arrangement right outside of the railway station…a smiley face!

Next, we went to the Dunedin Chinese Garden right down the street from the Railway Station. I accidentally found this place when I was searching top things to see in Dunedin, we got there at 4 pm so it gave us an hour to see before it closes at 5 pm. The admission cost wasn’t too bad at $9 NZD and gave us plenty of photo ops!

If I didn’t tell you where it is, would you ever think it’s in New Zealand? It looked very small from the outside but it’s enough to see in one hour.

The “garden” has many ancient Chinese houses and pagoda surrounding a pond in the middle. It looked like a film set of a rich ancient Chinese family!

There are small stone bridges like this as if you are traveled back to the ancient time.

And man made “rock” mountains with bamboo trees all over the place. We had quite a lot of fun taking photos!

It was probably my brother’s first time seeing ancient Chinese building besides the Chinese gate at the entrance of every Chinatown in the US.

The place also caters to private events like weddings, if I live in Dunedin, I’ll recommend my brides and grooms to have the pre-wedding photo session in this place!

It also has the zig-zagging hallways that we have seen in Chinese dramas like this one!

We could also walked all the way up to its “rock” mountain and there can see the tall buildings of Dunedin which gave it away that we are in a modern city 🙂


There were some other visitors besides us three but with a little wait, we could have photos without anyone else in the pictures…..except for one couple that we waited a long time for them to walk away….it always frustrate me when I saw people hogging the most picturesque location but they are not even taking photos (especially having their heads down to browse the web on their phones)!

Back to pictures, thanks for my brother to take photos of us two 🙂


The tower on the back ruined the picture…..perhaps I could try photoshopping it out!

There is a tea house but it closes at 4:30 and we got there just after that! It was fine, not that we will go in to drink tea anyways 🙂

Scholar Lisa? hahaha!

Their entrance gate is more beautiful than our Boston’s Chinatown gate!!!

‘The front side of it and the little building on the back is the entrance…see it doesn’t look big from the outside at all!

After that, almost all shops have been closed so we went back to the hotel. On the way, we stopped by a supermarket and get more drinks and breakfast items. We rested a bit before heading out back to the city center for dinner. I chose  Miga Korean BBQ and it did not disappoint. The main city center looked empty, I’ll show you pictures later and you’ll know what I mean by that!

Inside Miga Korean BBQ:

Seafood tempura as appetizer but it wasn’t amazing.

My seafood soon dubu was delicious especially its silken tofu, it was the most silkest (if there’s such a word) and yummiest tofu I ever had! Many times, the tofu I had were tasteless but this one I can clearly tasted the rich flavor of soy bean! I was very amazed that I found the best tofu I have ever tasted in my life in Dunedin, New Zealand!

Another great thing about the restaurant is its friendly staff and FREE UNLIMITED REFILLS of the side dishes! Whenever the side dishes were empty, she’ll came and asked with a smile on her face if we want to refill it, yes please!

We enjoyed our meal there and it was only $67 NZD for three of us with unlimited side dishes refills!

After dinner, we drove to the railway station again and sat in our car to wait for the blue hour. We waited half an hour and walked out, the Railway Station is pretty regardless day or night!

The next morning, we headed to Moeraki Boulders, an hour drive away. We got there after 9 and the beach already has tour group there. There are a gift shop and a restaurant there and a walkway down to the beach:

the beach is filled with massive boulders like this! How they are formed, where they are form???

Some of those boulders were cracked open, this one looked like a preserved egg LOL!

We had a lot of fun photographing with those, any funny pose you could think of?

Those boulders scattered around this beach:

Another half cracked open filled with water:

It was actually quite a lot of tourists there so we did waited a bit for “our turn”.

Meditating 🙂

I wished that I could photograph those boulders during both sunrise and sunset, hum….why didn’t we? I was giving Jason a break from the stargazing and driving 4 hours the next morning to Dunedin 🙂

This one, you could completely hide inside there, how cool!

Sibling hide and seek?

That’s not a soccer hun!

After 15 minutes or so, the tour group left and we had the entire beach to ourselves (well only a few other people more).

A very unique beach!

Yoga time!

At the parking lot, we saw something familiar…….alpaca!! Hey, we have seen you in Peru!

On the drive back to Dunedin, more sheep!

More spectacular architectures in Dunedin!

For lunch, we went to Saignon Van, time for Vietnamese Pho 🙂 You’ll need to place your order and paid at the front ordering desk and also help yourself with tea, water, utensils, etc. We don’t mind at all so as soon as we are done we can just walk out without the need to wait for our bill. Brother ordered this Vietnamese coffee and the lady took out this whole setup and showed him how to drink Vietnamese coffee. It’s a filter on top and on the bottom the glass cup has condensed milk so you’ll need some patience to wait for it drip. Then, mix the coffee with the condensed milk on the bottom and then pour into the glass of ice then it’ll be Iced Vietnamese coffee! What a fun drink, where can I get a filter system like this to make milk tea?

We love to pour Sriracha sauce on the pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) but they are the only one Vietnamese restaurant that I have ever been to without Sriracha. Instead, they gave us a container with their home-made spicy sauce. Let me tell you, we can eat spicy food but this sauce is killing spicy! My brother poured two small spoonful into his soup and OMG it was unbelievable burning hot! Luckily, I poured only one spoonful! We haven’t felt so adventurous eating our pho before!

It was great and only cost $41 NZD with three noodle soups and an Iced Vietnamese coffee, what a deal! After lunch, I told my brother and Jason that we should go shopping first since shops closes at like 5 PM!!! Then we could continued with our sightseeing afterwards, those sites don’t close LOL! We walked to George St where shops and Meridian Mall is located. I was in search for long sleeve and warmer clothes! Evita totally tricked us into bringing only “summer” clothes and it turned out it was quite chilly by our standards! I only bought a hoodie (as well as my brother) and the rest of our clothes were shorts! Guess what, all the stores were selling summer clothes LOL! But I found this dress shop called Dotti, I love their dresses (did I tell you that I am a dress addict as well?)! Their dresses are expensive but they were having a massive sale so I couldn’t resist to buy! I found that the sizes in New Zealand were quite large, the smallest size I could find in most of the stores was size 8 and it was too big for me! In Dotti, I did found some size 6 and it fit 🙂 I bought two dresses, one for $29.99 NZD and another one for $39.99 NZD each, those are dressy dresses and very good quality so worth the price tag when converted to US dollar. When I got back to the hotel, I checked and they were having an extra 50% off clearance so I ordered those two dresses and more and have them ship to Evita’s address since we’ll be back to Auckland on our last day to spend most of the day with Evita before our flight home. Deal scored!

In our hunt for warmer clothing LOL!

After shopping, we did a scenic drive of the Otago Peninsula via Portobello Road:

The road is very curvy and turns in every few seconds, Jason said it’s making him dizzy!!!

It was getting cloudier by the time we reached the Royal Albatross Center. We are not a bird person so we didn’t pay to go in to visit but we walked down to see sea lions.

It would be nicer if it was sunny!

We did not see any blue penguins there though 🙁

But we saw many many many birds, look at all those poops on the ground, watch out for droppings!

And there a sea lion was sleeping there!!!

There was a fence to keep people away from the sea lion’s breeding ground:

Many sea lions lying there!

And some swim out to the other side without the fence, please do not interrupt the wild life 🙂

Isn’t he/she cute just like a sleeping baby!

Awww cutie!

We walked back up those stairs and it was super windy! On the other side there are lookouts for viewing the massive cliff and the lighthouse from far away…

Those seaweeds flowing out like hair of a monster!

Time to drive back to our hotel to take a break. We got back to St. Claire and I walked out to look for those wooden poles…hum..where are they? From photos online, I saw a beach but there’s no beach…..then I found out the beach is covered by the ocean, those massive waves were a surfer’s dream!

Those stairs to get down to the beach submerged by water! From a distance, can you spot those wooden poles? I’ll show later …..stay tuned!

Time for dinner, we drove out to the city center again, it was less than a 10 minute drive away and no issue with finding parking at all, look at the streets!

What a huge different when we were here few hours ago shopping (there’s Dotti) and now!!!! Completely emptied, it looked like those zombie abandoned city in movie LOL!

We searched online and decided on having dinner at a Taiwanese cafe called Chopstick 101. This place is a hidden gem with so many varieties of dishes, big portion, and very inexpensive! We ordered again the “water boiled beef”, beef cooked in spicy oil!

The beef stir-fried flat noodle:

The sizzling beef hot plate, the amount of beef in there equaled to 3x as much beef as the same dish in Boston where it has more peppers and onions than the actual beef!

Stir-fried veggy with gravy:

We were so full since their portion were huge! When I was placing the order up at the ordering desk, the waitress was surprised on how much food we ordered and she did warned us about the amount of food we’ll be getting 🙂 Then, we finished off with dessert – red bean with tofu pudding! Their tofu wasn’t as silky or rich flavor as the tofu I had in Miga Korean BBQ though. All those food for $73 NZD. We loved the Asian food in Dunedin, unbelievably good and inexpensive!

Before we called it a day, we have no one place to visit – the world’s steepest street – Baldwin Street! It’s another few minutes away from the city center, and there’s the Knox Church, similar architectural style as the Railway Station.

When we arrived and parked, we saw this bicyclist speeding down the steep street, woahh brave soul, I can feel its acceleration when he flew by me!

Jason decided to have a drive up there to feel how steep it is…..and it’s a dead end road up there (we realized that when we got up) so have to turn around and drive down. The ride down was like in a roller coaster, I was screaming on the way down!!!

This picture gives the right angle to see how steep it really is!!!

My brother attempted to walk up half way and walk down, he couldn’t stop on the way down LOL!

More of the zombie abandoned feel of the city, the 3 lanes road without any car except us!

Yikes, where did the people go? And what they do during weekend nights? It was a Saturday and Sunday when we were there and the streets were empty after 5 pm!!!

Back to the hotel and was low tide so I can clearly see where the wooden poles are!

Sunset at St. Claire Beach and I spotted a surfer!

Our two days in Dunedin, my most memorable places were Moeraki Boulders and the Railway Station. I was impressed with the Asian restaurants in Dunedin, hidden gems!

Next stop is the most famous place in South Island – Milford Sound! Stay tuned for the next trip report and subscribe to my blog to get notified of my latest adventure 🙂

8 thoughts on “South Pacific Part 8: Dunedin

  1. OMG!! The food looks so good! I need to go there just to eat! I also wonder where all the people go in the evening! You will not see empty streets like that here in California! That steep street reminds me of San Francisco! Love your photos and am glad you are all having so much fun, it looks like a beautiful place.

  2. Lovely photos. Thank you. Our favorite place in Dunedin was Larnach Castle — they have a medieval mid-summer and mid-winter ball there that is awesome…

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