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Boulder Beach, Dunedin

Boulder Beach, Dunedin

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.

View above Boulder Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

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.

Hiking on the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand

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.

READ MORE: 26 of the Best Beaches in Dunedin

Boulder Beach

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.

A misty morning at Boulder Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

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!

Walking along Boulder Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Getting There

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.

READ MORE: 30 Fun Things to Do in Dunedin

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand make sure to check out our two-week South Island itinerary and our South Island travel guide!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.