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Queenstown to Dunedin Scenic Drive – The Best Route and Stops

Queenstown to Dunedin Scenic Drive – The Best Route and Stops

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Looking to make the drive between Queenstown and Dunedin, but don’t know where to get started? You’re in the right place!

I’m always heading out on road trips, and have written a ton of guides about my favorites so far. To be honest, this trip actually surprised me a lot with some of the attractions I came across along the way!

In this blog, I’ll tell you all the practical information you should know before driving from Queenstown and Dunedin as well as the fun stuff – viewpoints, attractions, and unique things to do. Because no road trip in New Zealand comes without adventure.

About the Drive from Queenstown to Dunedin

Dunedin is about a 3.5-hour drive from Queenstown without stopping on the quickest route that takes State Highway 8 (SH8). Even on this route, there are several great stops, so it’s likely to take you around 6 hours or more.

The Southern Scenic Route takes around 11 hours, and that’s without stopping – I don’t advise doing this! The Southern Scenic Route passes many of my favorite spots on the South Island, and for that reason, I suggest you allow several days to explore at a comfortable pace.

I recommend picking up a campervan rental in Queenstown to fully enjoy this road trip! If you’re not the campervan type, then renting a car in Queenstown is also a good option!

Depending on which of the two routes you choose, the length of the drive is either 278.5 kilometers (173 miles) via SH8 or a whopping 610 kilometers (378 miles) for the Southern Scenic Route.

Queenstown to Dunedin Drive FAQs

Koropuku Falls in the Catlins
Koropuku Falls is my favorite waterfall on the drive!

Choosing Your Route

Curio Bay on the scenic road from Queenstown to Dunedin
The beautiful Curio Bay in the Catlins

If you’re driving from Queenstown to Dunedin, or Dunedin to Queenstown, the first thing you need to decide is which route you are taking. You have the option between driving the Southern Scenic Route or the alternate, quicker route via Clyde on SH8.

There are some things you should consider when making this decision:

Are you a confident driver?

If you’re not so confident driving on New Zealand’s unique roads, then taking the direct route via the State Highway may be your best option. It’s a pretty straightforward drive and takes a lot less time. This is the better option during the winter months when snow, ice, and heavy rainfall may cause delays.

How much time do you have?

This is important – are you looking to take your time on the drive and savor all the sights along the way. If so, then I recommend taking the Southern Scenic Route. The suggested duration for this option is anywhere between 4 – 9 days. Yep, there’s just that much to see!

If you’re short on time, then the 3.5-hour option via SH8 is your best option.

What will the weather be like?

Driving the Southern Scenic Route can be challenging in the Winter months, as lots of rainfall means the stops may not be as pretty. Because most of the stops on the Southern Scenic Route are outdoors and require some walking to get to, it may not be ideal on a wet and miserable winter day.

Are you looking for the prettiest route?

If you simply want the prettiest drive, then choose the Southern Scenic Route, although, keep in mind that it is a lot longer (610 kilometers) so time needs to be on your side. It’s called the “scenic route” for a reason, as it takes in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful gems, such as the Catlins and Te Anau.

Queenstown to Dunedin Road Trip – The Most Direct Route

In order of driving from Queenstown to Dunedin via the SH8, below are the best stops along this scenic drive that you definitely need to check out!

Lake Hayes

Beautiful reflections of the clouds at Lake Hayes
If you get some clouds they make for beautiful reflections!

Just a 15 to 20-minute drive from central Queenstown is the gorgeous Lake Hayes, a popular spot with walkers, kayakers, and cyclists. There’s this loop track around Lake Hayes which will take about 2 hours to complete walking. You can also ride this trail on your bike!

Get here just before sunset for the most stunning reflections of the surrounding mountains on the lake!

If you don’t have your own bicycle, then you can easily rent one from Queenstown at bicycle rental places like Outside Sports. Rental starts from around $39 NZD per day, although you will also need to arrange any other accessories such as helmets.

Arrowtown

the mainstreet in Arrowtown
Arrowtown is seriously so cute and picturesque!

Often labeled as the cutest town in New Zealand, there is so much to do in Arrowtown. You can pan for gold at the Chinese Mining Settlement, and walk one of the lovely walking tracks. The Tobins Track and Sawpit Gully are two of my favorites. You can also bike one of the trails, with bike rentals available right from town.

Plus, there are so many awesome restaurants and cafés in Arrowtown that it’s the perfect spot to stop and refuel for lunch or brunch! One of my favorites is Provisions of Arrowtown, which serves up fresh produce with a modern twist and offers both a daily specials menu, as well as yummy counter food.

Wine is also a huge part of the Otago Region where Arrowtown is located, and now is also a great chance to explore the local wine scene on a wine tour! This half-day wine tour visits four different boutique wineries and is limited to just 12 people per group, which helps the entire experience feel much more personalized and intimate.

It also includes pickup and drop-off from Arrowtown, which means no need to double back on yourself! Tickets for this experience cost $239 NZD per person and can be booked online here.

Stay the night in Arrowtown

Whether you’re thinking of trying out that wine tour or simply want more time to explore everything that Arrowtown has to offer, then you might want to stay here for the night. There is a fair good selection of hotels in town, from budget-friendly motels to luxury resorts.

For those traveling on a budget, then the Arrowtown Motel is well worth considering, as it offers clean and spacious rooms perfect for a one-night stay. I’ve stayed here before in one of their studio rooms, and I had a wonderful night’s sleep before setting off the next day.

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, then the Millbrook Resort is its own little slice of paradise! This 5-star retreat houses no fewer than 3 outdoor heated pools, and its own health and fitness center, plus for the golfers out there, you’ll find two 18-hole golf courses right on your doorstep. With the on-site restaurant serving up delicious Japanese-style dishes, you’ll never want to leave.

Kawarau Gorge

A person hangs from a bungy cord at Kawarau Bridge Bungy in Queenstown, NZ
The river at Kawarau Bridge bungy really is that blue!

Kawarau Gorge is home to the world’s first commercial bungy jump – are you brave enough to try it out?!

The Kawarau Gorge Bungy is operated by AJ Hackett and has been attracting thrill-seekers from across the globe for years. If you don’t fancy jumping yourself, you can watch the action from the bridge or grab a coffee from the café here. It is a beautiful gorge and watching people take that leap of faith makes for great entertainment.

Tickets for the bungy jump start from $245 NZD per person, and you can arrange to either drive yourself there or take the bus. In our case, though, we’ll stick to self-driving for now! You can arrange your tickets here on their website.

Champagne Gully

Champagne Gully is a beautiful reserve in the Cromwell Gorge and is an ideal ‘stretch your legs’ quick stop. It’s a popular spot for fishing and swimming with locals. Freedom camping for a maximum of one night is available here too if you want to spend the night. I especially recommend it if you’re thinking of driving a campervan or RV!

Clutha River

Clutha River, New Zealand
The Clutha River!

The Clutha River is the second-longest river in New Zealand and the longest on the South Island. In fact, it’s also the highest-volume river in the country and the fastest-flowing. Emerald green in color, the river is popular for fly-fishing!

Once you pass through the town of Cromwell, you will drive alongside the Clutha River for some time. Take your time, enjoy the views, and stop at any pullover bays for views along the river.

Clyde

The Clyde Dam is huge! Photo Credit: Clyde Dam Tours

About a 20-minute drive from Cromwell, the historic town of Clyde is the perfect place to grab some refreshments in one of the town’s adorable cafés or hire a mountain bike to explore the surrounding hills. Make sure to take plenty of photos here! Some of the first European settlers to New Zealand chose Clyde as their home. It is very picturesque and almost feels like you’re stepping back in time.

There are actually a few noteworthy things to do in Clyde, too! One popular attraction many people like to visit when passing through is the Clyde Dam – you can actually go on a tour for yourself on this 2.5-hour Clyde Dam experience, which runs daily and is limited to just 10 people, so you really get an intimate tour of this seriously impressive piece of engineering.

This tour costs $125 NZD per person to book, and is run by friendly and knowledgeable local guides, who are all too happy to tell you hidden facts about the town, and of course, the Dam! You can book your tour online here.

Spending the night in Clyde

If you are searching for a good place to spend the night, then Clyde might be right for you! Plus, there are plenty of local wineries in Clyde, so if you love wine as much as I do, then you’ll be in no shape to drive after a few tastings.

Olivers Central Otago is a nice hotel in central Clyde, but there are plenty of other cute hotels and Bed & Breakfasts to choose from too. Otherwise, Alexandra, the next stop on your drive from Queenstown to Dunedin, also has a large selection of accommodation available.

Alexandra

A view of the town of Alexandra in New Zealand
Taking in the views of the city is perfect at sunset!

The largest town on your route, Alexandra is a big wine-making area, so you can bet that there are a few vineyards for you to discover here! Pinot Noir is the wine of choice here (yum!), so if you’re like me, definitely stop by one or two while you’re in town.

One of my favorite wineries in the area is Grey Ridge Vineyard, a boutique vineyard that’s about a six-minute drive north of Alexandra. The owners, Sue and Paul, are super friendly and really are the very best guides you could ever ask for! Their cellar door is open year-round, and you only need to book in advance if you have a group of five or more.

Open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and on Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm, this would be my personal pick of the bunch, and they even offer accommodation paired with wine tastings!

You can also bike an old gold mining trail, and in Summer and Fall, you can go cherry-picking in one of the Orchards. There are several accommodation options and restaurants here too.

Bellview Wetlands Reserve

bellview wetlands reserve in new zealand
Photo credit: Bellview Wetlands Reserve

Just over an hour’s drive south from Alexandra, Bellview Wetlands Reserve is a two-minute walk from the cute little town of Lawrence, and is an ideal place to get out and stretch your legs. When I last stopped off here, I realized that there are actually several walking tracks which are surrounded by native bush and birds – it really is pretty scenic!

Keep an eye out for tree frogs, as well as paradise and blue teal ducks, just a few of the locals! The Bellview Wetlands Reserve is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Mt Stuart Reserve

The Mt Stuart Reserve is a lovely place to stop and have a picnic. There is also an easy walking track on the south side of the reserve, which is approximately a 40-minute round-trip.

One unique point about this place is that you can find a giant Sequoia tree here, which are most commonly found in North America, among other non-native species, so it’s an unusual sight in New Zealand. I found out that some of these trees were planted over 100 years ago, when the reserve was part of the adjacent homestead garden – the more you know!

Lake Waihola

Lake Waihola
The beautiful Lake Waihola on a gorgeous day in New Zealand!

Lake Waihola is New Zealand’s most inland tidal lake, and it’s a beautiful one at that! With an area of some 9 sq km (3.5 sq mi), it’s a water sport haven, with fishing, boating, kayaking, rowing, and water-skiing popular here.

There’s a lovely holiday park here too, ideal for families, if you fancy spending the night lakeside – you can camp here, rent a cabin, or rent a powered site. Rates start from $18 NZD per night for an unpowered site, and from $105 NZD for a cabin.

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Queenstown to Dunedin Road Trip via the Southern Scenic Route

The route from Queenstown to Dunedin deserves time to appreciate all the stunning stops – there are so many! Depending on how much time you have, I recommend allowing between 4 and 9 days for this. It’s 610 kilometers (379 miles) in total and can be done without any stops in a minimum of 10.5 hours – but then again, this route is all about the stops along the way.

From deserted beaches to lush rainforests, and pristine lakes to stunning mountain vistas, there’s so much to see along the way. Here are the best stops on the scenic drive from Queenstown to Dunedin (starting from Queenstown in order):

Wye Creek Track

The viewpoint on the Wye Creek Track
The most underrated viewpoint in Queenstown!

About a 20-minute drive south out of Queenstown, Wye Creek Track is a 7-kilometer-long track (4.3 miles) that is located on the west face of the Remarkables mountains. I chose this spot for our first stop in large part due to the stunning views across Lake Wakatipu you’ll find here, plus there’s also a stunning natural waterfall! It is also popular with rock climbers. All in, this track should take you 4 hours return.

The Wye Creek Track Trail is located just on the outskirts of Queenstown. You could always tackle this trail while you’re staying in Queenstown and then skip it on this road trip, just to save yourself more time.

Kingston

We’re on our way to Kingston!

Kingston is a cute little town at the end of the famed Devil’s Staircase section of road between Queenstown and Te Anau. Once you arrive, I highly recommend heading over to the Lake Wakatipu Lookout to see Lake Wakatipu’s southern tip – the views here are so incredible.

For something a bit more thrilling, you can also go on an Xtreme Off-Roading tour! This one is for my fellow adventure seekers out there, as you’ll hop aboard “the beast”, a Can-Am Maverick X3 Max Turbo, before tearing it up Kingston Hill. The entire trip lasts around 2 hours, and costs $349 NZD per group of 3.

Don’t fancy heading out on the tour? Kingston is still a great place to get out and stretch your legs, and there’s also a small café here if you want to refuel.

Note: On the drive from Kingston to Te Anau, you may also want to stop at Five Rivers, there is a café here that does good coffee, has local art, and a few friendly farm animals in their paddock!

Te Anau

Bailey stands on a rock overlooking Lake Te Anau on the Kepler Track
Just one of the epic viewpoints on my favorite Great Walk near Te Anau – the Kepler Track!

Te Anau is one of my favorite little towns in New Zealand, and it’s a very popular vacation destination because it is the gateway to Milford and Doubtful Sound. In fact, if you have time, the drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is absolutely stunning!

There are lots of fun things to do in Te Anau, one of the most popular being this unique glow-worm tour (accessible only by boat). If you’ve never seen glow-worms in New Zealand before, this is definitely something to add to your list before you leave! The entire experience lasts for just over 2 hours, so it’s easy to work into your schedule on the way to Dunedin, too.

If you have the time, I also recommend a visit to the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, home to some incredible species like the famous Takahē, as well as Kākā, which are a relative to the cheeky kea! They offer tours daily at 10:30 am which last around 45 minutes, perfect for the family.

As for hikes in the area, you can’t go wrong with the Kepler Track, one of my all-time faves. There are some great restaurants in Te Anau too, my favorites are Ristorante Paradiso and the Bao Now food truck.

Stay the night in Te Anau

If you’d like to spend some more time exploring Te Anau, why not stay the night? There are plenty of hotels in Te Anau to suit any budget and travel style. Here are two of my top recommendations:

The Te Anau Lakeview Holiday Park is perfect for those traveling on a budget, as they offer powered and unpowered campgrounds, as well as private studio rooms and, if you don’t mind splashing a bit more, even suites! They even have a hot tub on site as well as a children’s playground too.

If you have a little more to spend, then ASURE Explorer Motel & Apartments might just be right for you. They offer full apartments, including one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, plus they’re located in an ideal location in town. With free parking included in your room rate, you’re in for a comfortable stay if you stay here!

Tautapere

Did somebody say “timber”?! Photo credit: Tautapere Bushman’s Museum

Just over an hour’s drive south of Te Anau is the small town of Tautapere, famous for all things ‘wood’!

The locals are super proud of the town’s history in the saw milling industry, and there’s even a logging museum which is worth a quick visit. But if you ask me, the real gem (pun intended) is Gemstone Beach, which you can find just a 19-kilometer drive (11.8 miles) from Tautapere.

And how did this beach get its name, I hear you ask? Well, it turns out that gems, including jasper, nephrite, and quartz wash up here from time to time – how neat!

Also worth exploring in the area is the Long Hilly Walking Track, less than a 15-minute drive from Gemstone Beach. It’s a 2-hour return walking track formerly used by Chinese settlers who came to New Zealand during the Gold Rush. You might not find any gold here, but you’ll surely return with a nice photo or two!

Bluff

Stirling Point, Bluff, New Zealand
Be sure to venture out to Stirling Point for some amazing views!

You may not have heard of the town of Bluff, but you’ve probably heard of the Bluff Oyster. Some great places to try this delicacy are at Oyster Cove, open daily except on Mondays, as well as Galley Takeaways. The Bluff Oyster Festival runs towards the end of May every year, and it’s a great day out if you can get a ticket.

Whilst in Bluff, check out Stirling Point (pictured above). It marks the southern end of both State Highway 1 and Te Araroa, both of which run the length of New Zealand. From here, venture a little further to Bluff Hill Lookout on Flagstaff Road for some great ocean views.

Invercargill

An historic building in Invercargill, New Zealand
On a sunny day, a walk around Invercargill is a great way to spend a day.

Invercargill is a great place to spend the night if you’re after some small-city vibes. Although a smaller city, there are still plenty of notable things to do here, including going on a stroll around Queens Park, enjoying the historical downtown area, and visiting Bill Richardson’s Transport World and Classic Motorcycle Mecca. If you’re a fan of vintage cars or motorcycles, then Invercargill is the place for you!

Something unique you can try your hand here is operating heavy machinery such as bulldozers, excavators, and mini excavators at Dig This – how cool! They are currently on a break until late 2024, so keep an eye on their website if you’d like to give this a go.

For amazing food, head over to Elegance at 148 on Elles for some New Zealand soul food – I recommend the Fiordland venison which melts in your mouth, or some of the famous Bluff oysters. They also have a varied vegan and vegetarian menu, with produce coming straight from the chef’s own garden!

Stay the night in Invercargill

Since Invercargill is a city, there are plenty of choices for places to stay here. It’s a great spot to grab some groceries, fuel up, and get organized before heading out the next day.

For a budget stay, Golden Leaf Apartments is a solid choice with clean apartments in an ideal location in town. I also found staying here to be pretty quiet, which is sorely needed for a great night’s rest when you’re on a road trip!

If you’re after something a little more luxurious in Invercargill, I recommend Birchwood Manor. With ultra-fast Wi-Fi and spacious rooms, it’s the ultimate place to recharge after a long drive. Although I’d put this in the more luxurious category, it’s honestly priced quite well, and you can often find great deals online when you book ahead.

The Catlins Conservation Area

Curio Bay in the Catlins
The coastline on this road trip is out of this world.

Leaving the city behind, it’s time to head on across to the Catlins!

Located in the far south, a little over an hour’s drive from Invercargill, this area is famous for its beautiful coastline and a seemingly endless number of waterfalls. To truly enjoy this area, you really should spend a night or two in the wild and rugged Catlins.

It’s definitely the road-less-traveled and gives a true sense of the South Island. There are penguins, sea caves, a very photogenic lighthouse, and like I said, lots and lots of waterfalls.

Here, I’ve listed my favorite stops in the Catlins – perfect places to visit on your scenic road trip from Queenstown to Dunedin.

Cathedral Caves

Cathedral Caves is a fabulous system of caves that are 200 meters long (656 feet) and 30 meters high (98 feet). These are only accessible at low tide, so be sure to check tide times beforehand. There’s also a $10 NZD entrance fee payable at the gate per adult.

These caves are often compared to the very popular Cathedral Cove, featured in the Chronicles of Narnia movies.

Curio Bay

Curio Bay is a must-visit to see the 170 million-year-old petrified forest and complete the Curio Bay Penguin Walk. On the walk, you may be lucky to spot yellow-eyed penguins and keep your eye on the water too as you may spot dolphins too. Locals will tell you that the best time to spot the penguins is at dusk.

There’s a café in the visitor center, also called the Tumu Toka CurioScape, as well as an excellent campsite. This campsite has powered sites as well as communal indoor facilities featuring a nice kitchen, lounge room, and hot showers. It’s a great place to spend a night if you’re traveling in a campervan or with a tent, with sites starting from $35 NZD a night.

Nugget Point Lighthouse

Nugget Point Lighthouse in New Zealand
This is one epic coastline!

One of the most popular stops in the Catlins is the very photogenic Nugget Point Lighthouse. It’s one of the oldest lighthouses in the country. You may see seals on the rocks below the lighthouse if you’re lucky. It is also home to some of the world’s rarest penguins. 

The best time to photograph the lighthouse is at sunset or sunrise.

Purakaunui Falls

The Purakaunui Falls trail is a 20-minute return walk that takes you to the viewing platform for the cascading 3-tier falls. The walk to the falls is flat, easy, and suitable for wheelchairs. It is, in fact, one of New Zealand’s most photographed waterfalls!

Tautuku Estuary Walkway

The Tautuku Estuary Walkway is made up of trails and boardwalks through podocarp forests into the Tautuku Estuary. It’s a unique landscape, that much is for sure! The walk will take about 30 minutes to complete. You can also spot fernbirds here, which only appear in high-quality wetland environments.

Balclutha

view from South Otago Museum in Balclutha, New Zealand
Photo Credit: South Otago Museum

Balclutha is a small town situated at the heart of the mighty Clutha River, the largest by volume in all of New Zealand. If you’d like a nice stroll, then I’d recommend the Blair Athol Walkway, which will treat you to fantastic views of the river in all its glory.

The town also has the South Otago Museum, which shares the history of the region, focusing in particular on the Gold Mining Era, with lots of vintage machinery! They’re open daily from 11 am to 3:30 pm, and it’s a great spot for families looking to explore towards the end of this epic road trip.

Related Read: Heading to Christchurch after Dunedin? Read my blog about the drive from Christchurch to Dunedin for info on all the best places to stop on this road trip!

Dunedin

Dunedin City with views of the ocean

And here we have it, the end of an epic road trip full of so many incredible places, I’m sure your camera is bursting right now!

Although a large city, many people consider Dunedin to be one of their favorite cities in New Zealand, and for me, it’s easy to see why. The city is very historical and is filled with Victorian-style buildings. In fact, the city of Dunedin has a distinct Scottish heritage (a lot of locals are of Scottish descent). The best example of this influence is at Larnach Castle, which is well worth a visit. 

Dunedin also has a large student population, and as a result, there are a lot of quirky restaurants and cafes in the CBD. Check out The Good Earth Cafe and Maggies for great food and coffee!

On top of that, Dunedin is surrounded by gorgeous landscapes and plenty of fun things to see and do. Take a trip to Tunnel Beach to see the gorgeous coastline and take a short hike. Or, take a drive/walk up Signal Hill for an epic view of the city.

If you’re a beer fan like me, then have I got news for you! There are several fantastic breweries in town, including Speight Brewery, which has been operating since 1876. They offer fantastic small-group brewery tours which include beer samples from just $35 NZD per person, the perfect activity to try no matter the weather.

Another area worth visiting in Dunedin is St Clair Beach for some lunch or dinner at one of its seafront eateries and the chance to see sea lions on the beach itself. It’s also one of the most popular surf beaches in the area and popular with both beginner and intermediate surfers.

Essential Info to Know Before You Go

Bailey walks through Arrowtown, New Zealand
Beautiful historic towns are a highlight on this drive!
  • If you’re not confident driving the above two routes between Queenstown and Dunedin, then you can get the InterCity bus, which takes 4 hours and 30 minutes
  • Take lots of snacks – outside of the towns there aren’t a lot of restaurants, cafés, and supermarkets on both routes listed
  • The same goes for gas, make sure you’re fuelled up as there are limited gas stations on the route, particularly on the Southern Scenic Route

Where to Stay in Dunedin

bathroom in the Distinction Dunedein Hotel
How gorgeous is this bathroom! Photo credit: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Also known as New Zealand’s ‘little Scotland’ Dunedin is a great place to spend a night or two. First off, the city center isn’t too big but has everything you need and is easy to stroll around. Thankfully, there are also lots of fun things to keep you occupied, too. Plus, there’s a fantastic array of great restaurants.

Some great places to stay in Dunedin include:

On Top Backpackers – $

Just a few minutes walk from many of Dunedin’s attractions, On Top Backpackers is a great budget pick. With its very own café and bar with 19 pool tables, it’s a fun, comfortable, unique, bright, and sunny hostel with a relaxed vibe.

You can choose from shared dorms, single and double rooms with shared facilities, or our deluxe double private rooms with en suite. A bed in a dorm here starts as low as $36 NZD per night – you can check availability and book your bed online here.

538 Great King Motel – $$

A 4-star motel that’s within easy walking distance of the city, 538 Great King Motel offers clean and comfortable rooms, plus there’s guest laundry on-site. The building itself is pretty trendy, and I love how modern and tidy everything is here! I also have to make a note that the beds are suuuper comfortable – especially important after a busy trip.

Rooms here at 538 Great King Motel start from around $184 NZD for a compact studio, ranging up to around $385 NZD for a penthouse apartment. Of course, for the best prices, it’s always a good idea to check online and book in advance.

Distinction Dunedin Hotel – $$$

Once a post office, the Distinction Dunedin Hotel is historic and charming and has recently been renovated. This 4.5-star hotel has a restaurant and bar on-site, and the rooms are modern and luxurious. One cool feature is that you can choose to dine privately in one of the original vaults of Dunedin’s former Post Office!

While a stay here doesn’t come cheap, the hotel is located in a fantastic area in Dunedin and offers a host of rooms, from studios to junior four-bedroom suites. If you’re looking to make your stay in the city that much more special, then you really can’t go wrong with a stay here! Rooms start from $309 NZD per night and can be booked online here.

St Clair and Brighton

If you want a stay a little out of the city, then I love St Clair and Brighton. St Clair is one of my favorite areas in Dunedin, just an 8-minute drive from the city center. There’s a long white sand beach here, where you can spot sunbathing seals if you’re lucky. There’s a small but varied selection of great bars and restaurants too. Hotel St Clair is a great place to spend the night here.

Brighton Beach is an 11-minute drive from the city and boasts a white sand beach and a long ocean jetty. The jetty is a beautiful place to catch the sunset. Stay in School by the Sea is a lovely home accommodation option in Brighton.

Be sure to check out my blog about all of the best things to do in Dunedin!

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your campervan or motorhome through JUCY or Star RV! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey from My Queenstown Diary drinks by her van on a road trip in NZ
Thanks for reading… Now back to my wine!

I hope this blog helps you make the most of your Queenstown to Dunedin road trip. Both routes have many positives, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy stopping by all the amazing spots along the way. After all, these are what make this road trip the adventure that it is!

For more info, be sure to browse my other blogs about epic road trips on the South Island, or my favorite place, Queenstown! I’ve left some of my all-time most popular guides below to get you started!

25 FUN Things to do on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

50 BEST Hikes in New Zealand + My Personal Favorites

Tiki Trail, Queenstown – A Steep Climb to Bob’s Peak