Recently refurbished, the Toitu Otago Settlers Musuem is a fascinating look at the life and times of Dunedin’s early settlers. Because of its sheltered, deep water port and fertile coastal plain, Dunedin was one of the South Island’s earliest places where Europeans settled. Arriving by boat in 1848, European settlers—predominantly Scottish—slowly began to build a community in the coastal Otago frontier, which exploded into hyper-growth when gold was found in the hills. From the time of the gold rush in 1861, Dunedin continued to serve as the center of life in Otago and the Southland, all of which is on display in this massive downtown museum. Aside from exhibits on European settlers, visitors will also find info relating to native South Island Maori, as well as a look at how Dunedin was New Zealand’s “First Great City.” At the Smith Gallery, look in the eyes of early settlers through the stunning collections of portraits, all of which feature early settlers from pre-1864. You’ll also find newer, more modern exhibits on Dunedin in the digital age, and this one of the city’s best activities on a cold or rainy day.
The Toitu Otago Settlers Museum is the oldest historical museum of its kind located anywhere in New Zealand. Founded in 1898, the museum is a must for any traveler with an interest in New Zealand history.