The Octagon commonly plays host to markets, concerts, and local events such as the Dunedin Fringe Festival and the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival. There are plenty of outdoor dining options to take advantage of in the warm summer months, too.
For culture vultures, the Regent Theatre features the New Zealand International Film Festival and a range of major concerts and theater productions; the New Atheneum hosts smaller, fringier theater and dance; and the Dunedin Art Gallery is a major national gallery that displays local and international art. Many Dunedin small-group tours include the Octagon.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Octagon is a must for all first-time visitors to Dunedin.
The plaza is a common drop-off and pickup spot for cruise ship shuttles.
The similarly-shaped Moray Place, a block away, has more theaters, cinemas, churches, cafés, restaurants, bars, and Dunedin Town Hall.
The Octagon is built on an uphill slope, so make sure to wear sturdy shoes if you’re visiting in winter, when snow or rain can make the cobbles quite slippery.
How to Get There
Three of the city’s main streets—George, Princes, and Stuart—lead directly to the Octagon from suburbs such as Northeast Valley, North Dunedin, South Dunedin, Roslyn, and Kaikorai. Many city and most suburban bus services stop at or near the Octagon. The plaza is surrounded by taxi ranks so it’s always a cinch to get home. If driving, there’s plenty of parking around the Octagon, including a lot directly behind Reading Cinemas on Moray Place.
When to Get There
The Octagon is full of life all year round, and is particularly lovely to visit in spring or summer, when the sun is out and the flower beds are in bloom. Try and time your visit for a local event such as the Midwinter Carnival or the Fringe Festival, when parades and performances transform the space.
Local History at the Octagon
At the top of the Octagon, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a grand Anglican church made from stone. The cathedral has a rich musical history and hosts regular choral and instrumental performances. A statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns stands nearby, and along the footpath running through the Octagon is the Writer’s Walk, dedicated to prominent local writers.