Weaving through a revitalised cool neighbourhood, the Dunedin Street Art Trail is a must-do attraction for curious wanderers visiting Dunedin, New Zealand.

Despite being recognised as a street art blogger, I didn’t come to New Zealand expecting to find urban art. And yet, during our first New Zealand road trip I was gobsmacked by the vibrant street art scene in post-earthquake Christchurch.

Then, whilst planning our second New Zealand trip the following year, I learned about the growing amount of extraordinary street art in Dunedin, a city located 360 kilometres south from Christchurch. Obviously, I had to see with my own eyes what the fuzz was all about.

Large mural of a girl lying in a bed of flowers
This magnificent mural by Bezt is located at 4 Broadway

Follow the Dunedin Street Art Trail with the free street art map

And so, we roamed the desolate streets of Dunedin in search of street art a few months later. We picked up a free copy of the Dunedin street art map at the i-SITE Visitor Centre, but you could also view it online via the Dunedin Street Art website.

Exploring the lesser-trodden parts of this lively student city on the self-guided Dunedin Street Art Trail, I was in my element. I mean: an abundance of top-notch street art amongst monumental historical buildings, all with a great story to tell. What more could a girl possibly ask for, right?!

The majority of the Dunedin murals is located in the heritage Warehouse Precinct. Once one of the main hubs for trade and commerce in New Zealand, it’s now becoming Dunedin’s new art hub. With its hipster cafés situated amongst rejuvenated grand factories and warehouses, you can sense this is an up-and-coming neighbourhood.

Featured artists in the Dunedin Street Art Trail

The street art route currently comprises over 30 artworks by some of the world’s finest muralists. Here are some of my personal highlights, listed by artist name and country of origin.

ROA (Belgium)

Belgian street artist ROA is one of my top favourite muralists. Known for his large monochrome paintings of animals, ROA was the first artist to be part of the street art trail in Dunedin.

You can find his larger-than-life tuatara, an endangered reptile endemic to New Zealand, at 7 Bath Street.

large black and white mural of the tuatara reptile

Phlegm (United Kingdom)

Sheffield-based illustrator Phlegm is yet another one of my favourite street artists. Coincidentally, his murals, often depicting his signature fantasy creatures, are also always painted in black and white. Or at least so I thought. Because Phlegm has actually created his first-ever colour works in Dunedin. (As far as I know.)

Well, a modest amount of colour that is.

mural of vessels disappearing in the mouth of a giant fish

The artwork you see above was the second commission in the city-wide street art project and can be found at 76 Vogel Street. It represents waka, Māori water vessels, disappearing into a fish’s mouth. Tapping into local history, the fish is a reference to the Japanese submarine that was spotted in the Otago Harbour during WWII.

While the mural above already incorporates some colour, the thin wash of blue paint is nothing compared to the colourful birds in Song Bird Pipe Organ below. (To be found on 12 Manse Street.) Playing an unusual organ, Phlegm’s mythical creature releases brightly painted New Zealand birds.

mural of a fantasy creature playing an organ that releases colourful exotic birds

In addition to the more unusual Phlegm murals using (hints of) colour, here are two more works by him in Dunedin in his characteristic monochrome-style.

mural of fantasy creatures riding a Moa
Mural by Phlegm of his fantasy creatures riding the extinct Moa bird (85 Moray Place)
mural of a fantasy creature with an owl's head holding a mouse
This mural by Phlegm is hidden in an alley on 24 Moray Place

Dal East (China)

It seems to be the main theme of the highlighted artworks so far: black and white depictions of animals. However, this mural of Dal East is the last one to follow this trend here!

mural of an eagle consisting of shards of metal

Using his iconic style, Dal East’s depiction of the now extinct New Zealand Haast Eagle seems to be made out of pieces of rubber and shards of metal. This mural at 25 Stafford Street is possibly my favourite of the Dunedin Street Art Trail. However, with so many great urban artworks around, it’s difficult to choose of course.

I’ve been in love with Dal East’s work from the first moment I set eyes on one of his magnificent murals in East London. However, unlike ROA and Phlegm I don’t often see his works overseas. The only other place outside of London, was in the south of Spain, as part of the impressive MAUS Málaga street art project.

Pixel Pancho (Italy)

And now time for some colour!

The Italian graffiti and street artist Pixel Pancho is one of the most impressive artists I’ve ever come across. Sadly, I’ve only ever seen his works in East London where he created some amazing murals over the summer of 2014. However, none of them were as grand or large as the one you see below.

mural of a human-like robot riding a robot horse
The mural ‘Riding Dreams‘ by Pixel Pancho can be found on 365 Princes Street.

Drawing inspiration from famous painters such as Salvador Dalí, the works of Pixel Pancho feature robot-like creatures. To me, they often suggest a sense of nostalgia. Echoing Pinocchio’s long-held wish, the near humanlike figures seem to dream for a place in the world. But that’s just my personal interpretation, of course.

Phlegm & Pixel Pancho collaboration

As a very special treat, you can find an amazing collaborative mural by Pixel Panco and Phlegm on 5 Stafford Street.

mural combining a human-like robot by Pixel Pancho with the fantasy creatures by Phlegm

Natalia Rak (Poland)

Possibly the most colourful mural in this collection, this was my first introduction with the striking work of Polish street artist Natalia Rak. The bold work Love is in the Air can be found at the top of the building at 48 Bond Street.

very bright mural of a girl kissing a boy on the cheek
Love is in the Air‘ by Natalia Rak at 48 Bond Street

Be Free (Australia)

Melbourne-based artist Be Free was another great discovery for me. While we visited some great street art hotspots in Melbourne, we missed her plentiful paste-ups and painted works there. However, I loved seeing her little cheeky girls playing and having fun in the streets of Dunedin. You can find the following two murals (the second one is split in two parts) can be found at at 106 Bond Street.

Mural of two girls spraying paint on the wall and street

Faith47 (South Africa)

I think it’s fair to say that Faith47 is one of the biggest and most respected muralists out there. Not surprisingly, you can find her epic works all over the work. And I’ve been lucky to see her paintings in several cities such as London, Manchester, Amsterdam, Málaga and Dunedin of course.

Personally, what attracts me most to her paintings is the sense of tranquillity her stately portrayals express. This is emphasised by the earthly colours she uses for her paintings.

The romantic embrace pictured in her mural 2500 – 2450 BC is part of her ongoing world-wide project 7.83hz Human Resonance Frequency. Often referring to dates of ancient wars, the series zoom in raw intimacy between human beings.

mural of a boy and girl in an intimate embrace
7.83hz Human Resonance Frequency‘ by Faith47 is slightly hidden in the alleyway at 58 St Andrew Street

Fintan Magee (Australia)

Known for his gigantic murals, Fintan Magee painted his largest work to date at 149 Rattray Street in Dunedin.

Not only does his Chasing the Thin White Cloud feature three local children, but I suspect the title is also a reference to local culture. I haven’t found confirmation for this, but I think it’s a variation on the Māori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa, meaning ‘land of the long white cloud’.

3-storey high mural of three children catching clouds in a net
Chasing the Thin White Cloud‘ by Fintan Magee at 149 Rattray Street in Dunedin

Hyuro (Argentina)

This was the first time I saw a painting by Valencia-based artist Hyuro in real life. Her murals regularly depict individuals, but in a very intriguing way. They either zoom in, or alternatively, zoom out drastically, never showing the faces of her characters.

But sometimes Hyuro’s works showcase only a singular clothing item. And as far as I can tell, these are always dresses. Indeed, her Unoccupied, painted on the vacant building at 76 Vogel Street in Dunedin’s Warehouse Precinct, shows a suspended dress. Curiously enough, the building has had only three occupants during its approximately 130-year long history. Due to the ambitious redevelopment of the area, I don’t think this will last much longer.

mural of a suspended dress
‘Unoccupied’ by Hyuro at 76 Vogel Street

I strongly believe that the city of Dunedin is a great contender for the title of the street art capital of New Zealand. What do you think after seeing this small collection of artworks from Dunedin’s outdoor art gallery?

Discover more surprising street art travel destinations here:

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45 Comments

  1. This street art is really impressive. I’ve seen nice street art before in places like Lima, Ipoh, and Berlin but these paintings really impress me still. Hope to visit one day!

  2. I had never heard of Dunedin let alone about its amazing street art. It is fabulous and makes the city so much alive and worth visiting. Though self walking is great I prefer walking tours which tell you the history of the art.

    • I think that it was the street art trail that made me want to visit Dunedin most of all I have to say, but it played such a significant role in the history of NZ that I do think it’s really worth a visit. The Otago Peninsula is fabulous as well. I’ll be writing a Dunedin travel guide soon so perhaps that will give you even more inspiration 😉

  3. So first of all how cool is it that they offer a free copy of the Dunedin street art map at the i-SITE Visitor Centre! I love it when local communities support and even promote the local street art scene! All the different artists have created some amazing work though I think I love the collaborative mural by Pixel Panco and Phlegm the best. In general it looks like Phlegm’s detail works would intrigue me the most.
    I do have a question though in the commission waka Maori piece. You mention that the traditional sailors are disappearing into a fish’s mouth. But I beg to differ. The sailors are rowing and by their position in the boat and how they are holding the oars in relation to the giant fishes mouth, the would have to be fleeing and escaping the fish, wouldn’t they?

    • You know, I thought exactly the same as you in the first place, but looked it up and all the articles/posts about this mural said the opposite so I changed my text. I might add a note to it now though after you’ve confirmed my initial thoughts, thanks! 🙂

  4. Street art all over the world is so amazing! Dunedin seems like a great place to visit to see some beautiful painting

  5. I love how murals have become such a huge part of travel these days. We get to see the city on its feet and artists get to express their creativity sometimes covering up would be deteriorating or dilapidated buildings – it is a win-win!

    • Absolutely agree with you there! It often means a regeneration of a specific area! Sometimes the balance is tipped over too much though as I see in some world cities but let’s hope Dunedin’s Warehouse Precinct retains its character 🙂

    • When thinking of street art hotspots, Dunedin never would’ve come to mind! I’ve always wanted to go there, now I have even more reasons!

  6. Besides all the nature scenery NZ has to offer, I barely ever get to see the more urban pics from there. Looks awesome!

  7. This is aqesome. Thanks for sharing this post. I also love street arts. Here in Manila, Philippines, we also have street arts it is located in Taguig City. If you visit Philippines, you might want to check it as well.

  8. Moved to NZ right before lockdown so it’s great to expand my list of things to do. And I love street art so this is great.

    • Oh how strange that must be to move to a different country but being unable to explore and start your life there. I think they lifted the restrictions in NZ by now? I hope you’ll get to see more of your new home country now (and what a great country to live!). Happy to have provided some travel inspiration 🙂

  9. I love street art so much. The pictures are incredible. Especially the one from Be free. Nice post 🙂

  10. Ooooh awesome! I liked your post about the street art in Christchurch, but the Dunedin Street Art trail is just as good! It’s pretty impressive what an international bunch of artists they have attracted to the town! I especially love the Be Free and Phlegm murals. I hope they come to Vancouver to decorate our streets too. 🙂

    • Nice to see you here again and great to hear you liked both my posts about street art in New Zealand. I imagine there’s lots of beautiful of street art in Vancouver too? I visited 16 years ago and absolutely loved it there! 🙂

      • Yes, they have a street art festival each year, so every summer we get a bunch of new murals. 😀

  11. Dunedin Street Art Trail is full of true art works. Definitely not graffiti. The artists seemed to kniw exactly what kind of picture will look best in each space. Love the bird on yellow!

  12. I loved the part about Natalia Rak’s art! Never knew about this artist before reading this post. I would love to see her street art in Dunedin in person!

  13. What is a city without street art?! 🙂 Seriously, we love street art, and always go to the neighborhood best known to have lots of murals when we explore a city, wherever that is around the world. The ones we saw in San Francisco, CA are our favorite ones so far. But these ones in Dunedin look quite awesome too. We haven’t been to NZ yet, but will definitely want to go there for the street art scene when we visit NZ.

    • Ha, fair point 🙂 I just always have the ‘old’ East London as my reference point when that was one of the few great graffiti street art hotspots in the world. Street art has a different connotation nowadays, often aimed at attracting tourists or even making a (new) neighbourhood more appealing for people to live. I see it being used for more commercial ends in East London which is sad. I guess that’s the general story of gentrification tipping towards the wrong side of the balance. I’ve never been on the West Coast of the USA but would love to go on a California road trip one day and SF would definitely be one of the stops then! 🙂

  14. There’s some really funky street art here. I didn’t know that Dunedin had loads around, that’s really cool. We also enjoy checking out big wall murals as we travel. They have a fantastic way of lifting an otherwise dull space.

  15. Love this post! I completely agree that Dal East’s work is incredible. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it on the computer. Would love to see it in real life. Also, love the number of female artists you feature!

  16. Wow, what an amazing collection of street art. It’s so cool how much of a difference the art can make to a place and how much more interesting it is to explore and photograph.

  17. Street art completely baffles me! I don’t have a clue how they can do it, and it’s always so mind blowing

  18. A wonderfully thorough and engaging overview of this amazing looking series of works indeed. Thanks for sharing this with us all!

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