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Hiking the Tavora Reserve Track, Coastal Otago

Hiking the Tavora Reserve Track, Coastal Otago

There are so many options for places to stop between Dunedin and Oamaru, and I’m going to tell you why the Tavora Reserve should be one of them! Roughly halfway between Dunedin and Oamaru, the Tavora Reserve Track takes you to a long stretch of beach and then up to a headland featuring awesome views both north and south. It’s an easy enough walk and you’ll likely have the place all to yourself – keep reading for all the info you’ll need!

Hiking the Tavora Reserve Track

From the car park (I’ll explain where it is at the end of this post) you’ll walk along a track through some farmland to South Beach. Towards the start of the track there’s mailbox with laminated information sheets. Grab one and leave it in the box at the end of the track. There’s also a sign saying dogs will be “destroyed”, so it’s probably best to leave yours at home. I’ve seen plenty of signs around New Zealand saying dogs aren’t allowed, but I’ve never seen them threatened to be destroyed! Before reaching the beach you’ll see some wetland areas, and the beach itself features golden sand (and quite a bit of seaweed). Apparently there are penguins in this area but you’ll likely have to go around sunset to see them.

Bobby’s Head

After visiting the beach you’ll see a track heading up the hill. It’s a short climb to the top, and once there you’ll get a beautiful view of the beach you were just on. The view stretches north towards Dunedin and gives you a good zoomed out look at the rugged coastline of Coastal Otago.

Once at the top you’ll head down slightly and then around Bobby’s Head. It’s a nice section of track and it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere. After a short walk you’ll see some great views of the coastline stretching north towards Oamaru. The light wasn’t ideal (we did this walk at around 11 am in late May) but you get the idea.

You might see some seals (or sea lions) relaxing on the rocks below, and from there you’ll walk through a field towards the end of the track. Remember to put your info sheet in the box! From the end of the track it’s five-minute walk down a gravel road back to your car. All up the walk should take around an hour and it’s fairly easy.

Getting to the Tavora Reserve

I’m going to assume you’re coming from Dunedin. If so, drive the turnoff you’ll want to take is a few kilometres past Waikouaiti (Goodwood road). Follow the signs and you should easily find the car park (it’s on Bobby’s Head Road, which turns off Goodwood Road). If continuing towards Oamaru you can keep going up Bobby’s Head Road afterwards, then turn right onto Goodwood Road, and that should take you all the way to Palmerston, one of the biggest towns in the area. If you’re hungry it’s a good place to stop for a bite to eat.

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Get heaps of great tips in 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.