It took us 18 months of living in Dunedin for us to get to Boulder Beach — there are so many beaches close to the city and this is definitely one of the least popular ones. Lack of popularity doesn’t always equal lack of quality though, and Boulder Beach is easily as good as many other Otago Peninsula beaches.
Walking to Boulder Beach
There are several tracks in the area and you can reach Boulder Beach from some of them. We chose the shortest option, which was to park up at the end (or until the road quickly devolved into a muddy mess) of Braidwood Road, which is just up the hill from the Sandfly Bay viewpoint.
We did the hike to Boulder Beach in winter and it was very muddy — bring hiking shoes and old clothes if you’re also doing it in winter. It took us around 20 minutes and the view on the way down is really nice. You’ll see a fence at the bottom of the hill — cross it and you should see a rough track leading to the beach.
If you’re looking for a longer walk you could park up at the end of Smails Beach (or catch a bus) and walk up the Karetai Road Track and then eventually down to Boulder Beach. The views from the Karetai Road Track are some of the best in Dunedin! You can also do the Paradise Track — we’ll do that eventually.
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The beach itself is surprisingly nice. The hard white sand and complete lack of seaweed etc give it a pristine feel and at low tide it’d be a great beach for running or some social sports (maybe a bit of beach cricket). Boulder Beach gets its name from the long row of boulders backing the beach. I’d describe them more as stones, but I’m no geologist.
If you visit just before sunset you might be able to see some yellow-eyed penguins as they frequent many of Dunedin’s beaches. Otherwise you might see sea lions — always keep a safe distance as they can get aggressive!
Drive up Highcliff Road and turn onto Seal Point Road (just after the Larnach Castle turnoff. From there turn onto Braidwood Road, but unless you’re in a 4WD don’t drive all the way to the end. If you don’t have your own car catch the number 3 bus to the end of Tomahawk Road then walk up the Karetai Road Track — it’s easily one of the best “bus accessible” hikes in Dunedin. Boulder Beach is closed for lambing during September and October (as are many tracks in the area), so you might need to plan around that.
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