Where to stay in Dunedin for first time: 3 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Dunedin as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Dunedin for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Dunedin for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and things to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Dunedin and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Dunedin, located on the southeastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is a city renowned for its Scottish heritage, vibrant arts scene, and stunning natural landscapes. It’s the second-largest city in the South Island and serves as a hub for education, culture, and tourism.

One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the University of Otago, New Zealand’s oldest university, which contributes to Dunedin’s youthful and academic atmosphere. 

The city also boasts beautiful Victorian and Edwardian architecture, particularly in its city center, where you can find attractions like the Dunedin Railway Station, known for its intricate stone façade.

Additionally, it’s surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, like the Otago Peninsula and nearby beaches. The Otago Peninsula is home to diverse wildlife, including colonies of royal albatrosses, fur seals, and yellow-eyed penguins. It’s a popular spot for eco-tourism and wildlife enthusiasts.

The city also home to the Dunedin Fringe Festival, which celebrates alternative and experimental arts, and the Cadbury Chocolate Carnival.

Is Dunedin safe to visit?

Yes, Dunedin is generally a safe place to visit. Like any urban area, vandalism, thefts, and car break-ins can occur, so it’s wise to take normal precautions such as being aware of your surroundings, taking care of your belongings, and avoiding leaving valuables in parked cars, and avoid walking alone late at night.

There are also risks of natural disasters, so you should be aware of the potential for earthquakes and be prepared in the event of one. I also recommend being cautious of strong currents and always swimming between the flags where lifeguards are present.

Where to stay in Dunedin for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Dunedin for first-timers and tourists include Dunedin City Centre, North Dunedin, and St Clair/ St Kilda. Regardless of where you choose to stay, it’s essential to take common-sense precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

In general, The City Centre is the most popular base in Dublin for the first time. This area has the highest concentration of accommodations and tourist amenities. Staying here puts you within walking distance to many attractions, including the Octagon, Public Art Gallery, and shopping areas like George Street.  

North Dunedin is ideal for visitors wanting to explore the University of Otago campus and attractions like the Otago Museum and Dunedin Botanic Garden. It’s a lively student area with a range of accommodation options and dining spots.

If you’re a beach lover, St. Clair is the place to be. This coastal suburb offers beautiful sandy beaches, great surf, and a relaxed atmosphere. There are also cafes and restaurants overlooking the ocean.

During my trip to Dunedin, I stayed at the beautiful Fable Dunedin. It was located in a wonderful location, within walking distance to many attractions and restaurants/cafes. My room was compact but well appointed. Breakfast was tasty.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Dunedin for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Dunedin first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Dunedin first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Dunedin, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Dunedin have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

3 Best areas to stay in Dunedin for first-timers and tourists:

1. Dunedin City Centre

Dunedin City Centre is undoubtedly the best area to stay in Dunedin for first-timers and tourists who want to be in the heart of the action. This area has a wide range of accommodations and offers easy access to many of the city’s main attractions and amenities.

You’ll be within walking distance from George Street shopping street, Octagon plaza, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and the Dunedin Railway Station.

The Octagon plaza is surrounded by historic buildings, cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s a hub of activity and a great starting point for exploring the city.

George Street, which intersects with the Octagon, is Dunedin’s main shopping street, lined with boutiques, department stores, and specialty shops.

The City Centre is packed with eateries offering a wide range of cuisines, from local favorites to international fare. After dark, you’ll find plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs to enjoy the city’s nightlife scene.

You can take a stroll around the City Centre to admire Dunedin’s well-preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture, including landmarks like the Dunedin Railway Station and the First Church of Otago.

Staying in the City Centre puts you within walking distance of many attractions, making it easy to explore on foot. Public transportation options are also readily available for venturing further afield.

Best places to stay in Dunedin City Center for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Fable Dunedin, 5-star boutique hotel in central Dunedin, a short distance from the Octagon city center, as well as many shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. It has beautiful rooms, a 24-hour front desk, and very good breakfast. Just be mindful that some rooms are only accessible by stairs once exiting the elevator, so it can be challenging for those with heavy luggages.

Luxury ($$$): The Chamberson, 5-star hotel in downtown Dunedin, on Stuart Street, close to everything including Dunedin Railway Station, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and the Public Art Gallery. Also easy walking distance to restaurants, supermarkets, and cinema. The hotel has paid parking, laundry services, and lovely spacious rooms.

Luxury ($$$): Ebb-Dunedin, 5-star amazing hotel in the city center of Dunedin, easy access to popular points of interest like The Octagon, Otago Museum, and Forsyth Barr Stadium. It has a fitness center, private parking, modern rooms, and luggage storage space. 

Mid-range ($$): Distinction Dunedin Hotel, 4-star hotel located on Liverpool Street, in central Dunedin, featuring one to four bed-rooms suites which is great for couples, families, and groups. It has a 24-hour reception, a tour desk, laundry facilities, and luggage storage.

Mid-range ($$): The Terminus, 4-star accommodation in the heart of Dunedin, easy walking distance to Princes Street and the Octagon. It has modern apartments with laundry facilities, and a full kitchen.

Budget ($): 315 Euro Motel and Serviced Apartments, great accommodation conveniently located on  George Street, within walking distance from Dunedin Hospital and University of Otago. It features soundproofed studios and apartments, free parking, and laundry facilities. There are stairs to get to the rooms but you can ask the hotel to help with the luggages.


2. North Dunedin

North Dunedin is a dynamic and bustling area known for its vibrant student life, historic architecture, and cultural attractions. Staying here offers easy access to University of Otago, Otago Museum, Dunedin Botanic Garden, and Forsyth Barr Stadium..

University of Otago is New Zealand’s oldest university. The campus is a significant part of the area’s identity, with its historic buildings, green spaces, and student population contributing to the lively atmosphere.

Situated near the university, the Otago Museum is a must-visit attraction, showcasing natural history, cultural artifacts, and interactive science exhibits. It offers insights into New Zealand’s Maori heritage, as well as international exhibits.

Located adjacent to North Dunedin, the Dunedin Botanic Garden is a tranquil oasis featuring a diverse collection of plants, themed gardens, and walking trails. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

North Dunedin offers a wide array of dining options. With its large student population, North Dunedin has a lively nightlife scene. There are plenty of bars, pubs, and entertainment venues.

Best places to stay in North Dunedin for tourists:

Luxury ($$$): Bluestone On George, 5-star good value for money accommodation in North Dunedin, offering stunning views of the hills and Otago Peninsula. It is only a short walk from various shops, restaurants and cafes. It features self-contained studios, free off-street parking, and a fitness center.

Mid-range ($$): Amross Motel, 4-star accommodation centrally located on George Street, short walk from The University of Otago and Dunedin Hospital. It has self-contained apartments with a kitchenette and en suite bathrooms. The hotel has free parking, which is a bonus for those who drive.

Budget ($): Highland House Boutique Hotel, lovely  heritage-style hotel in North Dunedin, close to Dunedin Botanic Garden, Woodhaugh Gardens, and 10 mins drive from the city center of Dunedin. It offers free private parking, family rooms, and good breakfast.


3. St Clair/ St Kilda

St. Clair and St. Kilda are ideal destinations for a seaside getaway in Dunedin. These areas offer a relaxed coastal atmosphere with beautiful beaches, scenic walks, and a variety of dining and accommodations.

St. Clair Beach, one of Dunedin’s most popular beaches, is known for its golden sands, rolling waves, and iconic saltwater pool. It’s a great spot for swimming, surfing, or simply relaxing by the sea. 

St. Clair Esplanade is a scenic coastal walkway that extends from St. Clair Beach to St. Kilda Beach. It’s perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride, offering panoramic views of the coastline.

Adjacent to St. Clair Beach, St. Kilda Beach is another beautiful stretch of sand popular for picnics, beachcombing, and kite flying. It’s a quieter alternative to St. Clair Beach, ideal for those seeking a more peaceful seaside experience.

Located at St. Clair Beach, the hot saltwater pool is a unique attraction where you can soak in geothermally heated seawater while enjoying panoramic ocean views.

St. Clair and St. Kilda offers a range of beachfront cafes serving fresh seafood to cozy bistros and eateries specializing in international cuisine. You can enjoy a delicious meal while overlooking the ocean or grab a casual bite after a day at the beach.

Best places to stay in Dunedin in St Clair/ St Kilda:

Mid-range ($$): Hotel St Clair, 4-star beachfront hotel on Esplanade,  10 mins drive from downtown Dunedin. It has rooms with views of St Clair Beach. It has free parking, and close to a few restaurants.

Budget ($): Majestic Mansions – Apartments at St Clair, great hotel on Bedford Street, easy walk from St Clair Beach,  St Clair Salt Water Pool, cafes and restaurants. It has free parking on site, family rooms, and laundry facilities.

Mid-range ($$): ASURE Adrian Motel, 4-star motel close to St. Kilda Beach, offering barbecue facilities, free parking, paid airport transfer,  laundry and luggage storage.

Mid-range ($$): Esplanade Apartments, 4-star accommodation on Esplanade St Clair, short walk from Saint Clair Beach, featuring free private parking, and on and two-bedroom apartments.


In conclusion, Dunedin City Centre, North Dunedin, and St Clair/ St Kilda are the best places to stay in Dunedin for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe and great locations in the city where you can find a variety of accommodations to stay and explore Dunedin.

 You can continue reading about other destinations in New Zealand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Dunedin. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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