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Highcliff Track, Dunedin

Highcliff Track, Dunedin

The Highcliff Track is a short hiking trail on the Otago Peninsula which takes you to a viewpoint above Boulder Beach and then down to the sand. It’s an easy walk and the roadside views on the drive there are great too. Keep reading for all the information you’ll need about the Highcliff Track!

Getting There

The Highcliff Track is located at the end of McMeeking Road. From Highcliff Road turn down Karetai Road and then left onto McMeeking Road — some awesome views over Dunedin from Karetai Road. There’s also the Karetai Road Track, but I reckon it’s better to start that from the bottom (Smails Beach).

Highcliff Track

Access to Boulder Beach is restricted from November 1 – February 28 (due to wildlife breeding) but the track to the viewpoint is open year-round. You’ll start by walking down a gravel road before the track takes you through some farmland. The views are good from this part of the track, but they’re about to get better!

Boulder Beach Viewpoint

The viewpoint above Boulder Beach is one of the best in the Otago Peninsula. You can also see a bit of Sandfly Bay and the cliffs of the Otago Peninsula’s ocean side. A stunning view and not as popular as others nearby — we had it all to ourselves on a hot day in the middle of summer!

We walked a little further down the track, but since the beach was closed we didn’t go all the way.

Another Way to Boulder Beach

We’d visited Boulder Beach a couple of years prior, opting for the Braidwood Track. It’s a nice walk too and it seems a bit shorter and easier (although the Highcliff Track is short and easy too). Check out our post about Boulder Beach.

Boulder Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

The Details

It took us around 40 minutes to walk to the Boulder Beach viewpoint and back, which included 10-15 minutes enjoying the view. From there it doesn’t seem too far down to the beach. The track is easy, with a bit of an uphill walk on the way back. Again, access to the beach is restricted from the start of November until the end of February. The whole walk there and back should take around 90 minutes, but you could also do the Paradise Road Track back up to Highcliff Road and then walk back to your car that way. Or do the Karetai Road Track from Smails Beach then walk up the road to the Highcliff Track to Boulder Beach and up the Paradise Track / Braidwood Track, down Highcliff Road then Karetai Road you’ll be back at the top of the Karetai Road Track. That’d be a bit of hike, but it shows you the options on offer.

It should take around 20 minutes to drive from downtown Dunedin to the start of the Highcliff Track. The turnoff from Highcliff Road is easy to miss (we missed it and had to turn around). The views from Karetai Road, and Highcliff Road before you turnoff, are worth the drive there even if you’re not keen to do a walk.

Are you planning a trip to Dunedin? Check out our list of the best things to see and do!

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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.