Dining in Dunedin: The rise of the city's cuisine culture

The Swan in Dunedin
The Swan in Dunedin Photo credit: DunedinNZ

Dunedin has long been known for its creativity, whether it be original music, literature or other art forms, there is something about the fabric of the place that inspires people to try new things.

This inventiveness has crossed over into the city’s dining scene, and now it’s the culinary arts that are drawing more and more people to Dunedin to experience the vibrant cuisine culture.

Otago Farmers Market
Otago Farmers Market Photo credit: DunedinNZ

For a city of its size, Dunedin is blessed with a generous number of thriving eateries, often found within stylishly refurbished heritage buildings. Within a few short blocks of the city centre, you can traverse the globe by sampling everything from tapas and Asian fusion through to innovative ‘trust the chef’ style menus where locally-sourced produce is the hero. On any given Saturday, you’re likely to bump into a number of chefs wandering among the stacks of fresh local produce and ready-to-eat treats at the Otago Farmers Market, a true Dunedin foodie mecca.

Speights Brewery is a well known Dunedin attraction.
Speights Brewery is a well known Dunedin attraction. Photo credit: DunedinNZ

A little bit like Belgium, this is a place that takes beer seriously. In fact, it can lay claim to being the birthplace of beer in New Zealand, with the famed Speights Brewery and Alehouse still a popular place to dwell over a pint.

As the craft beer movement has taken off, Dunedin has risen to the challenge with Emerson’s, New New New, Arc Brewery and Noisy Brewing adding to the stable of fine local brews. For the true aficionados, Headfirst Travel can take you to all of them over the course of a six hour ‘Dunedin Ultimate’ brewery tour.

Emerson Brewery has some great craft beer options
Emerson Brewery has some great craft beer options Photo credit: DunedinNZ

Sticking with the theme, you can chow down on a Belgian classic dish ‘moules and frites’, aka mussels and fries, in the novel new glasshouse dining rooms overlooking Otago Harbour at Harbourside Grill, or sample some of the very fine chocolate at Ocho, just around the corner.

Standout newcomers to the city’s culinary offering include The Press Club, a destination eatery at the newly refurbished Wains Hotel, where the glamourous aesthetic is matched only by the impressive whiskey collection.

Then there’s tītī, a new venture by internationally experienced duo Hannes Bareiter and Melanie Hartmann. This is a place were food is celebrated with reverence so that the exquisite flavour pairings can be savoured along with the beautiful presentation. With views out over St Clair beach and the Pacific Ocean beyond, it easily feels like an upmarket Sydney restaurant and yet epitomises all that is great about Dunedin.

Dine Dunedin takes place from August 7 to 23 with a series of special events, dinners and tastings.
Dine Dunedin takes place from August 7 to 23 with a series of special events, dinners and tastings. Photo credit: DunedinNZ

The growing momentum behind the city’s foodie scene has evolved into two annual festivals, celebrating the diverse array of local eateries, breweries, bars and artisan producers:

  • From August 7 - 23, Dine Dunedin kicks off with a series of special events, dinners and tastings to showcase the work, ideas and creativity of the city's chefs and food producers. This festival focuses purely on the depth of talent within the kitchens of Dunedin's many restaurants and cafes.
  • The Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival running from October 30 - 31. The Forsyth Barr Stadium goes from hosting full-backs to full stomachs when it transforms into the epicentre of the Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival.
Buster Greens in Dunedin
Buster Greens in Dunedin Photo credit: DunedinNZ

It might not be the gastronomic tour of the world you were planning, but Dunedin does a pretty good impression. After all, international travel is so last year.

This article was created for DunedinNZ.com