Canoe Beach, Dunedin

Tucked away between Doctors Point and Purakaunui Beach, Canoe Beach is one of Dunedin’s most hidden gems. Overlooking this small, calm bay is Mapoutahi Pa / Headland, affording stunning views over both Canoe Beach and Purakaunui Beach.

Walking through the Arches to Canoe Beach

One way to access Canoe Beach is to park up at the Doctors Point car park and walk along the coast. It’s only possible to do this at low tide. You’ll pass through the Arches, a small network of caves which tunnel through the headland. I recently wrote a post about Doctors Point — check it out!

Canoe Beach

There are so many beaches in Dunedin and it can be hard to choose which ones to visit. Canoe Beach is smaller and less windswept than most, making it well worth a look. You can walk the length of the beach in about five minutes, but make sure to head up the hill for the awesome views.

Mapoutahi Pa / Headland

Pa, a Maori word, roughly translates to fortified village. They were often built on headlands like this for strategic purposes, but they probably enjoyed the views as well. There are no remains from that time in history, but someone has carved some sea creatures out of hedges up there (at least that’s what I think they were).

The views down both sides of the headland are pretty amazing. To the left is Canoe Beach and a large section of coastline towards Oamaru, and to the right is a great view over Purakaunui Beach.

Purakaunui Beach

I’ll be writing a full post on Purakaunui Beach so I won’t go into too much detail here. It’s a great beach though — make sure to walk to the end of the beach and around the inlet for calm, inviting water to swim in.

Getting to Canoe Beach

The walk from Doctors point is really nice, but if the tide is high you’ll have to drive to Purakaunui Beach and then cut through to Canoe Beach (they are right next to each other).

  • Getting to Doctor’s Point: Drive north from Dunedin until you reach Waitati. From Waitati you’ll see a sign pointing towards Doctor’s Point. A more scenic (but slower) route to Waitati takes you along the harbour to Port Chalmers and then over the hill past Orokonui Sanctuary. You could spend a whole day exploring this area.
  • Getting to Purakauni Beach: Follow the same instructions as above but head towards Purakaunui village and go towards Osborne.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

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