Josh Thomas's Dunedin

Dunedin is refreshingly unpretentious, but at the same time loaded with talent and original thought. My background and interest in art and design are well sated here, and there has been a flurry of exciting new developments in my new area of work - hospitality. I love Dunedin’s sense of space and time. Not only are wild, deserted beaches within 15 minutes drive, but I feel people have more time for each other than in larger cities. As a born and bred Aucklander who moved here nine years ago, I still love how forgotten parts of the city can be. 

Gather cockles at Pūrākaunui

Pūrākaunui, Dunedin

It can be hard to find water warm enough to swim in around Dunedin, but catching the outgoing tide off a deserted boatshed at Pūrākaunui inlet is magical, as are the large and plentiful cockles which can be gathered by swimming across the small channel.

Close up of Purakaunui Cockles.

Smoked mackerel from ADJØ

10 Bank Street, North East Valley, Dunedin

A great addition to the ‘garden’ shops and my hood North East Valley, this small and cosy café is a dreamy mix of Danish-inspired kai, genuinely friendly staff and cool low-fi surrounds, topped off with a great sense of community. Grab kai, coffee or European soda here for your picnic at the Botanic Gardens across the road. I think about the smoked mackerel dish several times a week.

People dining inside ADJO in Dunedin.

Drinks in the sun on The Terraces

Dunedin Town Belt, Dunedin

Dunedin is blessed with an outstanding Botanic Garden that is also part of the city's historic Victorian town belt, one of only three in the world. I pride myself on my sense of direction, but I love how I still get lost in the Town Belt, with it’s seemingly random paths and small roads. My absolute fav spot at the Botanic Garden, is the terraces and banks of long grass which look down onto the band rotunda. Having drinks here in the late afternoon sun, makes you feel very lucky.

The botanic terraces.

Mind blowing views from Bethune’s Gully

Normanby, Dunedin

Tucked away at the end of North East Valley is Bethune’s Gully, a dark and lush forest park. From the valley floor with small fields, a playground and an icy stream, you can walk through a mix of native and exotic trees up to alpine shrubbery and a mindblowing 360 degree view of Dunedin. Allow 3-4 hours return. If you have time, also check out the Organ Pipes, a side-track near the summit.

People playing football at Bethune's Gully.

Lunch perfection at Side-on

326 Moray Place, Dunedin Central

When we committed to the location for Woof!, we were a little nervous as this stretch of Moray Place is notoriously charmless with a view of a large Countdown wall. What gave us hope, was that in June 2019 the most remarkable transition had taken place.  An unassuming shop had become Side-on, a beacon for the best café lunch in town. Owners Renee and Alan have created absolute perfection. The interior exudes a mysterious gentle calm - stylish, simple and functional – and the food is just crazy good! Sourdough, cakes and pastries are all baked on site and can be taken away. Everything melts in the mouth and leaves you uber satisfied.

A baker moving bread.

Emerging and experimental art at Blue Oyster

16 Dowling Street, Dunedin Central

For over 20 years, the Blue Oyster Art Project Space has been Ōtepoti’s home for emerging and experimental art. As someone who has worked within the arts sector, it is an amazing track record and testament to the mahi of the staff and community who now staunchly support it. I love that the director, Hope, and her team always warmly welcome you, and can talk you through the work if you want them to. Visiting and local artists create shows especially for the space, so what you see is usually a single one-off experience, always challenging, surprising or intriguing – or all three!

The Blue Oyster sign

Old school fish and chips from Best Café

30 Stuart Street, Dunedin Central

A fish and chips restaurant trading since 1932! So old school, so good. Think formica chairs, lino floors, clean and unpretentious surrounds. It really does feel like a step back in time (in a good way). But the star here is the fish and chips themselves.  They really are exactly how fish and chips should be, fresh, crispy and delicious. Fish burgers and Bluff oysters are also notable. And they do takeaways!

A couple dining inside Best Cafe.

Wander the Wharf Area

Waterfront, Dunedin

A few years back, a friend created an art project where small groups of people went on a kind of guided walk through the old warehouse area across the railways tracks at the bottom of town. We each carried a small shoebox that contributed different audio curated for the locations we were passing or stopping at. This experience opened my eyes to what a great area this is, to wander through and explore. Headphones and your choice of soundtrack recommended.

The top of buildings in the Wharf Area of Dunedin.

Grab a pint of Emerson's at Albar

135 Stuart Street, Dunedin Central

Before I opened my own bar and started working nights, I always met my friends for a pint of Emerson’s, laughs and hangouts, at Albar. Small, cosy, comfortable and friendly.

People dining outside Albar.

Enjoy the cinema at the Regent Theatre

The Octagon, Dunedin Central

It’s such a beautiful building - there really is nothing like stepping inside the majestic Regent Theatre. I’ve spent so many winters in here with friends enjoying the world’s best cinema, together with the NZ International Film Festival.

A woman reading in the foyer at Regent Theatre.