Dunedin takes street art to a new level…

 Bringing new life into tired old buildings.

Chinese artist DALeast represents the extinct Haast Eagle.

Liz Carlson

Chinese artist DALeast represents the extinct Haast Eagle.

Over the past few years, the Dunedin street art scene has exploded.

Gone are the days of grungy punk tags and ugly incomprehensible letters on back alley corners. Instead, there’s a growing interest in grassroots art that truly shows off the quirky side of this South Island city. Dunedin is redefining urban culture in New Zealand one beautifully decorated wall at a time.

The artists flocking to the city aren’t just your average taggers, they are famous artists travelling the world on assignments to bring life back into cities.

UK artist Phlegm shares his typical characters riding the extinct Moa.

Liz Carlson

UK artist Phlegm shares his typical characters riding the extinct Moa.

I hadn’t noticed the murals decorating walls of buildings on previous trips to the city, but for this last long weekend in Dunedin, I had the time to wander, get lost, and explore, and begin to notice the amazing hidden gems you only discover when you slow down and take your time.

If you are looking for a little getaway to a place where you can take your time and be amply rewarded without the need to tick things off a bucket list, Dunedin is the place. When a city is willing to commission artists to decorate it, and add layers and depth to its culture, it’s usually a really special and independent place.

Natalia Rak's mural Love is in the Air.

Liz Carlson

Natalia Rak’s mural Love is in the Air.

I got a proper introduction on my second day in town when I opted to go on a guided street art tour of the city. While there is an amazing map you can get that shares many of the locations of the street art in Dunedin here, new pieces are popping up all the time and being curious, I needed someone to tell me the amazing stories behind the art.

My knowledge of this place was so patchy and sporadic that I needed a local to learn about Dunedin through its growing urban art scene. Cue Victoria, aka Street Kiwi on Instagram. She’s a passionate local and together we spent hours exploring all of the art around the downtown area, while I learnt the wonderful stories behind the works. There are dozens of pieces, big to tiny, hidden around. To experience something so unique and special, with someone who knows so much, and has so much joy for the art  turned out to be a fabulous introduction to the city.

Dunedin blew me away in so many respects, but I think seeing the growing street art scene is what really solidified my love for this place.

 

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