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Canoe Beach, Dunedin

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. 

The Arches, Dunedin, New Zealand

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.

Canoe Beach, Dunedin, New ZealandStunning view of Canoe Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

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.

READ MORE: 26 of the Best Beaches in Dunedin

Canoe Beach, Dunedin, New ZealandView of Purakaunui Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Purakaunui Beach

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

Purakaunui Inlet, Dunedin, New Zealand

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 Ecosanctuary. 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.

Exploring Dunedin? Check out our post about the best things to do in Dunedin!

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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.