Mobile app for Dunedin’s literary locations

Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature has teamed up with the University of Otago’s Department of English and Linguistics to create dtour, an app that links remarkable writers and their stories to remarkable sites in Dunedin and the Otago region, with many more to follow.


These literary locations not only reflect the city’s colourful cultural history but also showcase its signature built and natural environment. The resource is packed with local colour and flavour, featuring original scripts for each entry, composed by outstanding creative writers, and voiced-over by iconic New Zealanders Sue Wootton and Dougal Stevenson.

The project is directed by David Ciccoricco of the University of Otago’s Department of English and Linguistics along with Lynley Edmeades, David Large, and Dunedin City of Literature Director Nicky Page.

“What really sets the project apart is the original writing in the scripts,” said Ciccoricco. “Right from the start we were really intent to do more than simply dump existing information that could be found anywhere online into a flashy interface. The research and storytelling that went into all this is a real point of difference.”

Page said that the app is “an exciting way to celebrate our wonderful local writers, with many more entries planned over time. It represents another special collaboration for our City of Literature – I hope everyone has fun with dtour during a lovely Dunedin summer.”

Users can search dtour via the map, and choose from either “biographical” sites (based on an author’s physical imprint on a place) or “literary” sites (marking an imagined imprint found in fiction or poetry). Users can also search authors from an alphabetical list.

Selecting the map pin at Lovers’ Leap on the Otago Peninsula, for example, takes users to the site for Owen Marshall, which features his poem named for that stunning geological land bridge. In addition to the text and audio of the original scripts, each site displays images, and Marshall’s site displays archival material such as H.V. Miller’s 1968 sketch and William Anderson Taylor’s early 1900s photograph of Lovers’ Leap. The late Reg Graham’s compelling portrait of Marshall and some contemporary photographs of that most famous vista are also on show.

In addition to the partnership between Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature and the Department of English and Linguistics, dtour marks a collaboration with local developer Grant Baxter of AppLab Ltd. with support from programmer Dave Robertson and designer Michael Findlay; Hocken Collections; Otago’s Department of Music, Theatre, and Performing Arts; and the Otago Museum. The project has received generous funding from the University of Otago, the Dunedin City Council, the Otago Community Trust, and the Dunedin Athenaeum Library.

Its initial soft launch of 50 authors and sites took place on 21 December 2018, with another 50 sites already in the works for 2019. There are also plans to translate a number of entries into te reo Māori, as the app has been designed to accommodate bilingual text and audio.

A display and demo will remain live for three months in the Otago Museum’s first floor Atrium.

dtour is available for Apple iOS and Android devices as a free download from the AppStore or Google Play.

Check the Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature website for updates.

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