Towering sea cliffs, hidden beaches and coves, hills and lush bush overlooking a seemingly endless Pacific horizon are all part of the classically romantic appeal of Dunedin, capital of the Otago region on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island.
Named this year as one of TripAdvisor's 25 global Top Emerging Destinations - putting it in the company of Martinque and Colorado Springs as international 'off-the-radar' destinations - Dunedin is a handsome boutique-sized city, a charming conglomeration of wonderful old church spires, heritage buildings, undulating hills and a bustling urban centre.
Being there, it's easy to picture yourself in a Bronte novel as you stare wistfully at the dramatically sweeping coastal landscape with its distinct touch of gothic atmosphere.
The city has a way of wooing visitors with its understated elegance and evocative mix of natural wonders and city comforts – from easy scenic walks, wildlife, beaches and gardens to an ever-evolving dining scene, craft breweries and some of the best museums and galleries in the South Island.
In one day, you can tackle the world's steepest street, visit New Zealand's first university, its only castle and the only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross. As a UNESCO City of Literature, Dunedin has long been a base for notable New Zealand authors, poets, playwrights and other lovers of the written word.
To really get a feel for the place you'll need to stay at least a few days to explore the city, which while sophisticated and cultured is also endearingly welcoming and a little wild around the edges.
You can walk on a remote beach populated with anything from yellow-eyed penguins to New Zealand sea lions and just 30 minutes later, enjoy a glass of wine in the thriving city entertainment precinct; there are few other places in New Zealand where you can indulge your thirst for Kiwi culture, history and natural beauty in quite the same way.
There is a distinct European feel in the grand Victorian and Edwardian architecture still so prevalent in the city, a well-preserved echo of times gone by. This nod to the past is balanced with a quirky and innovative side on display in ever-evolving street art, the swathe of interesting designer-makers and strong café culture.
The Otago Peninsula which extends out from the eastern reaches of Dunedin, is one of the world's best eco-tourism destinations and has attracted admiration from many famous people including Sir David Attenborough.
This stunning finger of land could easily pass for other more exotic places such as the Galapagos Islands and is similarly home to rare and increasingly endangered species that inhabit its remote reaches.
Many of the wildlife tours and attractions are part of conservation efforts to nurture some of these species including populations of albatross, penguins (both yellow-eyed and little blue), fur seals and sea lions.
It's worth going with a guide to get the most out of the experience and to hear a few good southern yarns at the same time. If you prefer a dose of soft adventure thrown into the mix, jump on board a 4WD Argo and traverse to the best viewing spots, or take to the water on board a harbour cruise, for a different perspective again.
You can take the low road alongside the Otago Harbour, stopping to admire the picturesque harbourside villages and brightly coloured boatsheds, or the spectacular high road that winds its way high above, with scenic views back towards the city and far corners of this stunning coastline.
Tucked away atop the peninsula you'll find Larnach Castle, a beautifully preserved piece of Victorian history. You can stroll its spectacular garden, explore its interior, take high tea in the ballroom or even stay in one of the three bespoke accommodation options.
With its distinctly Scottish feel, Larnach Castle is a great pick for fans of the Outlander television series.
A day spent wandering the city centre will reveal colourful street art, excellent cafes, eateries and locally blended and roasted coffee. Then there's the beer. Destination breweries include not only the historic Speights but more recent additions Emerson's, New New New and Arc Brewery.
Wider Otago is something of a visitor hotspot, which includes the well-trodden destinations of Queenstown and Wanaka. But stray a little farther, hop in a rental car and head out towards the coast to Dunedin via the Central Otago Touring Route, an inspiring journey through wine country, mountain plains and gold-rush era townships. You'll be rewarded with a richer, more authentic experience away from the crowds.