Stepping across the bridge between the outside world and the tranquil beauty of the inside world, we entered the Dunedin Chinese Garden. It is a place of peace and reflection. Somehow, time slows down here. We soak it all in as our guide slowly walks us through. It is one of a handful of authentic Chinese gardens located outside of China. In fact, the Dunedin Chinese Garden is the first in the Southern hemisphere and the only one in New Zealand.
The garden is custom designed for this location. Initially assembled in Shanghai China, it was carefully deconstructed, transported, and reconstructed in New Zealand. The Dunedin Chinese Garden transforms visitors into a different world, one in which the attention to every tiny detail comes together in a spiritual tranquillity. Every path’s bend, bridge, walkway, or step leads to a different view. By design, there is no spot where you can see it all.
Inside the Dunedin Chinese Garden
“Most cherished in this mundane world is a place without traffic, truly in the midst of a city, there can be a mountain and forest.”
~Wen Zhengming (1470-1559)
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For us, many of the traditional features of the Dunedin Chinese Garden struck with an air of familiarity. We have been to Suzhou, home to the Masters of the Net Garden used as a basis for the design of the Dunedin Chinese Garden. While we didn’t visit that garden, we did explore others. We also spent several days in Dunedin’s sister city, Shanghai (China), including a visit to the sister garden just off of the Yu Yuan Bazaar.
Want more? Check out this book: The Great Gardens of China: History, Concepts, Techniques.
A traditional tea house adds an extra spot to relax and enjoy the day while overlooking the lake and many of the other elements of the tranquil gardens.
Practical Information on the Dunedin Chinese Garden
- Located at the corner of Rattray and Cumberland Streets, the Dunedin Chinese Garden is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. See more on their official website.
- The tea house and gift shop close daily at 4.30.
- Private guides are available for a fee, or you can enjoy a free audio tour.
- Lan Yuan is the garden’s official name, but most people know it as the Dunedin Chinese Garden.
- Using traditional Chinese construction methods, the use of any nails or other corrodible materials was avoided.
- It was built to recognise the efforts and sacrifices of Chinese miners in Otago goldfields, as well as the continued contribution of Chinese people to Dunedin’s history, culture, and ongoing prosperity.
- Located just down the street, the Dunedin Railway station is the most photographed building in New Zealand, and also the starting point for the fabulous Taieri Gorge Railway adventure.
- If you are looking to combine the Dunedin Chinese Garden with a city tour, or arriving via cruise ship, we recommend Viator, a trip advisor company.
- If you’re staying in Dunedin, or anywhere in New Zealand, find the best hotel prices at Booking.com. Need a suggestion, here’s our review of the Distinction Dunedin Hotel.
Where do you find tranquil beauty in your life?
Disclaimer: As guests of the Dunedin Chinese Garden our visit included a private tour and tea. However, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
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