Not many people will have Dunedin on the top of their list of places to visit in New Zealand. Myrthe shares why this often overlooked city is well worth a visit for all outdoor adventurers.
Dunedin includes a wide range of natural environments, including stunning beaches, rolling green hills, native bush, and rocky hilltops. Apart from alpine adventures, this city has something on offer to pursue pretty much any outdoor sport. You’ll never be short on things to do in Dunedin.
When in Dunedin, you should definitely spend some time on the sandy shores. Luckily, you have about a dozen different beaches to choose from!
Tunnel Beach might be Dunedin’s most touristy beach, but it’s well worth a visit. The tunnel was hand carved in the 1870s and leads to a stunning and secluded beach.
Take a drive out to Aramoana, where the surf is often pumping and where a hike up to Heyward Point will reward you with great views.
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
Keen for a bit more action than just a beach walk? Grab your climbing gear and head to Long Beach, where you’ll find an abundance of sport climbing routes as well as tricky boulder problems.
Smails & Allan Beaches
To meet the locals, head to Smails Beach or enjoy the drive out to Allan Beach, where you can find Sea lions, Fur seals and penguins on the sand.
If you’d rather immerse yourself in a forest, Dunedin has something for you as well. Visit Nichols Creek for a great MTB track or walk up to the waterfall (make sure to go at night to see the glow worms!).
For more mountain biking or a fun trail run, it’s worth planning a trip to Wakari Creek for a cruise through the Redwoods.
To get a good view of the city, head up Signal Hill. You can walk, run, ride or drive up, but I’d recommend taking your bike so you enjoy one of Signal Hill’s fun MTB tracks on the way down!
There are plenty of options to get up high and enjoy the view over Dunedin, but my favourite is a trail run up to Mt Cargill. Start from Bethunes Gully for a well-formed track, or head to Sawyers Bay for a more technical track. Make sure to run the length of the highly enjoyable ridge and don’t miss the Organ Pipes!
Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve
Just outside of Dunedin, you’ll find the Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve, which offers a whole range of tracks, huts, and viewpoints. This area is a great and easy-to-get-to destination for an overnight hike.
For sweeping beach views, you’re spoilt for choice! You can walk up Karetai Track from Smails Beach, take Highcliff Track to Boulder Beach, or follow Sandymount Track to Sandfly Bay.
A hike to Pulpit Rock makes for a great taster of the Silver Peaks and rewards you with expansive views of both the coast and Dunedin’s inland ranges.
Read more: What to Pack in Your Hiking First Aid Kit
Dunedin Water Adventures
And last but not least, Dunedin is a great place to head out onto the water.
With so many beaches in close proximity, there are bound to be waves rolling in somewhere. Visit St Clair or St Kilda for a leisurely surf and cafe combo, or head to Aramoana or Whareakeake Beach for a more adventurous session.
If you prefer paddleboarding or kayaking, the Otago Harbour provides a more sheltered area to head out onto sea. You can visit Quarantine Island / Kamau Taurua, a recreation reserve and historic area, and take a self-guided walk around the island.
Dunedin on a Rainy Day
Okay, so here’s a disclaimer. Despite all the sunny photos shown so far, it can get pretty cold and miserable in Dunedin. Luckily, the city has plenty of indoor bad-weather options to keep you entertained.
Go for a climbing session at the local boulder gym to get your weekly workout in.
Museums & Galleries
Dunedin also has a variety of museums and art galleries worth a look. I’d highly recommend the Tūhura Science Centre and the Animal Attic at the Otago Museum.
With six breweries and three distilleries, there are plenty of places to go for a drink. Make it an outing by taking a brewery tour at Speights or Emersons.
If you prefer a smaller craft brewery, check out the taproom at Steamer Basin, Noisy Brewing, or New New New.
Before you know it, the wet weather will have passed and you’ll be back outside making the most of Dunedin’s playground!