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Oceania > New Zealand > Dunedin

See: Why rent a car in Dunedin ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Dunedin?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Dunedin?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Dunedin car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Dunedin with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Dunedin? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Dunedin, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Dunedin is in car rental price band: 7/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Dunedin? 

No. Car rental is expensive by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Dunedin between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 5/10

Non car score:5/10

Balance: 7

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Dunedin is a natural gateway to many of the scenic wonders that make up the South Island of New Zealand, although Queenstown might be a better bet for visiting the fjord lands.

Why? Visiting Dunedin using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Dunedin ?

  • For all the reasons you’d rent a car anywhere else – freedom and flexibility, especially in a place where public transport is limited!
  • Despite the railway connections, Dunedin is still in a very remote part of New Zealand, and most journeys will be by road.

Why not? Visiting Dunedin without a car

Why don't you need a car in Dunedin ?

  • Dunedin might also be the terminus of a long railway journey south from Christchurch or even from North Island if using the ferries, and this main line does continue right through to Invercargill. The station itself is a great example of neo-Renaissance railway architecture.
  • It will be impossible to mention Dunedin without also bringing up the fantastic Taeri Gorge railway, which is certainly a great day trip to do from Dunedin, and arguably the finest rail journey in New Zealand.

However the pendulum still swings very heavily towards getting a car in Dunedin, simply because almost anywhere else worth visiting is going to be best done with a hire car. See also our Queenstown car hire guide for suggestions of South Island road trips, based around New Zealand’s premier outdoor pursuits hub.

Should you hire a car in Dunedin? Verdict – yes

Ratings: How does Dunedin compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Dunedin? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Dunedin, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Dunedin? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Dunedin (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Dunedin? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Dunedin airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Dunedin car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 8

2019 - 8

2021 - 7

Average score - 8




Do you or don't you need a car in Dunedin ?

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