Imagine a city of 120,000 by the sea, and surrounded by green rollicking hills. This is Dunedin. Home of the University of Otago and several other educational institutions, more than 25,000 students call Dunedin home, making the city a true college town with cultural and entertainment options that far exceed what you would expect from a small city.
The city was a thriving settlement during the gold rush of the 1860s and an important commercial center. Remnants of the wealth of its people is seen in Dunedin's legacy of well preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Because of the student population, you'll find a plethora of cafes, shops, and live music. Concerts, theater and galleries will provide opportunities to experience the culture of New Zealand. Many of New Zealand's greatest writers, poets, artists and musicians have come from this friendly city.
If your tastes run more toward sporting activities, Carisbrook is the local rugby stadium and the whole city bursts at the seams when the All Blacks (national team) or the local Highlanders are playing.
If outdoor pursuits are your preference, there are plenty of options both near and far. Right outside the city on the Otago Peninsula, you can visit a penguin reserve, or an albatross colony as well as opportunities to sea kayak or hike. A bit further afield, but still within a couple of hours you can experience the best of New Zealand's lakes, mountains, fjords and skiing, much of which is centered around Queenstown.