Top things to do

Top Choice Bird Sanctuary in Oamaru

Blue Penguin Colony

Every evening the tykes from the Oamaru little penguin colony surf in and wade ashore, heading to their nests in an old stone quarry near the waterfront. Stands are set up on either side of the waddle route. General…
Top Choice Area in Oamaru

Victorian Precinct

Consisting of only a couple of blocks centred on Harbour and Tyne Sts, this atmospheric enclave has some of NZ’s best-preserved Victorian commercial buildings. Descend on a dark and foggy night and it's downright Di…
Top Choice Wildlife Reserve in Otago Peninsula

Nature’s Wonders Naturally

What makes the improbably beautiful beaches of this coastal sheep farm different from other important wildlife habitats is that (apart from pest eradication and the like) they're left completely alone. Many of the m…
Top Choice House in Dunedin

Olveston

Although it's a youngster by European standards, this spectacular 1906 mansion provides a wonderful window into Dunedin's past. Entry is via fascinating guided tours; it pays to book ahead. There's also a pretty lit…
Top Choice Museum in Dunedin

Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Storytelling is the focus of this excellent interactive museum, which traces the history of human settlement in the South Island. The engrossing Māori section is followed by a large gallery where floor-to-ceiling po…
Top Choice Gastronomy in Oamaru

Riverstone Kitchen

A riverstone fireplace and polished concrete floors set the scene for a menu that's modern without being overworked. Much of the produce comes from the extensive on-site kitchen gardens (go for a stroll, they're imp…
Top Choice Cafe in Alexandra

Courthouse Cafe & Larder

Fairy lights and bounteous botanical displays dispel any lingering austerity in this stone courthouse building, dating from 1878. The counter groans under the weight of an extraordinary array of baked goods (cakes, …
Top Choice Modern NZ in Clyde

Oliver's

Housed in a gold-rush era general store, this classy complex incorporates a craft brewery, bar and bakery-cafe within its venerable stone walls. The restaurant shifts gears from on-trend cafe fare at lunchtime to a …
Top Choice Seafood in Moeraki

Fleur’s Place

There's a rumble-tumble look about it, but this quirky tin-and-timber fishing hut houses one of the South Island's best – and most popular – seafood restaurants. Head for the upstairs deck and tuck into fresh shellf…
Top Choice Cafe in Dunedin

No 7 Balmac

We wouldn't recommend walking to this sophisticated cafe at the top of Maori Hill, but luckily it's well worth the price of a cab. The fancy cafe fare stretches from smashing brunches to the likes of confit duck and…