The Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin

Looking for something to do on a rainy day in Dunedin? Look no further than the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. An impressive range of exhibits take you from pre-European times through to the gold boom and even offers a glimpse into life in New Zealand in the 70s, 80s and 90s. The museum covers Otago (a region of NZ) with a particular focus on Dunedin.

Things to See at  Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

This world class museum is packed full of interesting exhibits. It’s one of the more entertaining museums I’ve visited and is fun for all ages. Highlights include:

  • A walk-through galley and sleeping quarters modelled on the ships that brought early European settlers to Dunedin.
  • Old photos of Dunedin, which for a long time was the most important city in New Zealand. There so many old buildings in Dunedin and quite a large number are still in good shape today. Architecturally it’s the nicest city in New Zealand and it’s fascinating to see how it looked in its prime.

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand -- an old street photo of Dunedin

  • Displays relating to how Maori travelled to and lived in New Zealand, including a huge canoe and various historic artifacts.
  • Old vehicles, including stagecoaches, buses, trams, penny-farthing bicycles and carriages.
  • Rooms straight out of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Ever wondered what the inside of New Zealand homes used to look like (and sometimes still do)? At the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum you can see perfectly replicated rooms from recent history, including a “90s” bedroom complete with Nirvana and Pulp Fiction posters. The small details in these rooms are incredible.

Otago Settlers Museum 90s bedroom

  • Portraits of Otago’s earliest European settlers. There’s a whole room full of them which is kind of creepy considering they all look so glum. They were tough times I guess!

READ MORE: 30 Fun Things to Do in Dunedin

Otago Settlers Museum room of portraits

  • Dozens of retro appliances and other items from throughout New Zealand’s recent history.

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand -- retro appliances

There are so many other things to see at the Early Settlers Museum — there’s always something new (or I guess old) to look at and unlike some other museums you don’t just have to read endless explanations. It’s interactive and fun and it’ll teach you something about the way society has evolved in Dunedin (and Otago in general), from ancient Maori settlements to modern times.

The details

The Toitū Otago Settlers Museum is a perfect rainy day activity in Dunedin for tourists and locals alike, and Dunedin has its fair share of rainy days! It’s free to visit and is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily. There’s a cafe and a gift shop outside and plenty of comfortable seats scattered around the museum. The museum is located close to the centre of Dunedin and is right next to the Dunedin Railway Station, one of the nicest old buildings in New Zealand.

Are you dreaming of visiting New Zealand? Check out our South Island Travel Guide for some inspiration!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

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