It’s 5000 miles from Singapore, and over 9000 from New York.
Yes, New Zealand's South Island is a long way awayfrom the rest of the world, but it’s distance that helps makethe city of Dunedin so special.
Distance, and the promise of new beginnings is what drew two shiploads of Scottish settlers to the South Island’s Otago region in 1848.
These wild shores, fern-filled valleys, and ever-changing skies spoke tothe hardy Scots, just as they had to the Maori who settled the Otago Peninsula centuries before.
The industrious Scots made their mark allover New Zealand, but nowhere is the Caledonian spiritmore alive than in Dunedin.
Set at the head of Otago Harbour, the city centre is shaped by The Octagon, an eight-sided plaza that’s a tribute to the Scottish sense of order.
Right at the Octagon’s heart sits a contemplative statue of Robert Burns, the acclaimed Scottish poet whose nephew was one of the city’s founding fathers.
While all around rise some of the city'smost important buildings, such as Town Hall, St Paul’s Cathedral, and The Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
From here, Dunedin spills outin all its bluestone beauty.
Wander down Stuart Street to New Zealand’smost photographed building, Dunedin Railway Station.
In the early 1900s, when Dunedin was the nation’s commercial capital, the station serviced over 100 trains a day.
Today it serves as the departure point for scenic adventures along the Otago coastand into the rugged interior, yet its grand interiors and mosaicsstill sweep visitors back to the great age of rail.
Just up the tracks, venture back even further, at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum.
Gaze up into the faces of Otago’s stoic pioneersin the portrait room, where dreams, hopes and trials drift backelectronically across the mists of time.
Just behind the museum, The Dunedin Chinese Garden quietly celebrates the contribution Chinese settlers have madeto the region, particularly during the 1860s gold rush.
Across town, at the Otago Museum, discover the complete history ofthis Southern Land, from the present day, back tothe legendary Moa, and beyond.
Just a short walk from the museum, step into Olveston House, once the family home of a prosperous merchantand arts patron.
Filled with exotic arts and antiques, as well as everyday objects, this 35-room Edwardian time-capsule isa fascinating window into Dunedin’s glory days.
Retracing centuries of historycan be thirsty work, so why not combine a little learningwith leisure, at Speight’s Brewery, which has been serving up thePride of the South since 1876.
The brewery sits on top ofa deep underground spring, so even if you don’t fancy a cold one, you can still fill up on pure spring waterfor free.
If it’s too early for beer, just follow the scent of roasting coffee beansto Dunedin’s many cafes.
Dunedin is the home ofNew Zealand’s first university, whose students keep the city’screative juices bubbling, from its innovative dining, live music scene, to its fabulous street art.
When it’s time to walk off lunch, stretch your legs on Baldwin Street, which according to the Guinness Book of Records, is the steepest in the world.
Or explore the woodland paths and floral displaysat the Dunedin Botanic Garden, and enjoy the fine views acrossthe northern suburbs.
Just a ten-minute drive south from the citycentre is St Clair Beach, a popular summertime hangout for generationsof Dunedinites, and for those crazy enough, the site of the annual mid-winter plunge! Dunedin offers no shortage of natural escapes.
The wildest jewel in Dunedin’s crown isThe Otago Peninsula, which remarkably, sits within the city limits.
Rent a car or a push bike and follow the peninsula’s coast road pastthe boat sheds and shacks of fishermen, charter boat operators, and rat-race escapees.
Head into the hills through forests and farms, to New Zealand’s only castle.
Referred to by its creator simply as, “The Camp”, Larnach Castle, is anything but.
Step inside these thick stone walls and explorelavish living rooms, cosy bedrooms and a tower with viewsacross the harbour to Port Chalmers.
Further up the peninsula is another of Otago’smost important buildings, the Ōtākou Marae.
Built on the site of an important Maori settlement, this meetinghouse is the hubof Ngāi Tahu cultural life.
A little further up the road the peninsulacomes to an end, where Taiaroa Head and the vast Pacific’smany moods meet.
A century ago, lookouts at Fort Taiaroa scannedthe horizon for hostile raiders.
Today, visitors are on the lookout for somethingfar more delightful, the Otago sea life.
Taiaroa Head is home to the world’s onlymainland albatross breeding colony.
Pay a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre, a safe haven where these seabirds who travelan astonishing 120, 000 miles each year, come to rest, breed, and raise their chicks.
While you’re here, sit back and watch theresident Southern Fur Seals glide by between their long snoozesin the sunshine.
And if you hang around til dusk, you’ll catch Little Blue Penguins, the world's smallest, return from a big day at sea tothe warmth and safety of their burrows.
Once the sea spray and mists ofthe Otago Peninsula have whet your appetite for adventure, it’s time to hit the road again.
Just to Dunedin’s North, stop in and say hello to rareYellow Eyed Penguins at Shag Point.
Then just up the road at Hampden, reconnect with your sense of childhood wonder at the mysterious Moeraki Boulders.
At the historic farming and port town of Omaru, Victorian warehouses and stores have becomeplaces where imaginations run free, earning the town the title of, The Steampunk Capital of the World.
If it’s total isolation you’re yearning for, turn southward to a corner of New Zealandbypassed by time, the sparsely-populated Caitlins Coast.
Explore Mother Nature’s ancient forests, let her watery veils enchant youat Purakaunui Falls.
Then feel the full force of grandeur atNugget Point.
To the west, Central Otago beckons, from its historic gold towns, all the way to Queenstown’s lakes andThe Remarkables.
For centuries this region has been a placeof new beginnings, a place to escape from the constraints ofthe past.
Today more than ever, we need places thatallow us to catch our breath, experience a little magic, and continue our journeys renewed.
Dunedin always has been, and always will be, one of those places.