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Hoopers Inlet, Otago Peninsula

Hoopers Inlet, Otago Peninsula

Hoopers Inlet is one of the main natural features on the Otago Peninsula. You can see it from a few different angles when driving around the winding gravel roads — we’ll show you the best spots as well as some tips to make the most of your trip to this section of the Otago Peninsula.

Getting to Hoopers Inlet

From downtown Dunedin it’ll take around 30 minutes to get to Hoopers Inlet. You can drive the harbourside road through Macandrew Bay and Portobello or the high road past Larnach Castle.

Views Above Hoopers Inlet

If driving the high road head for Sandymount Recreation Reserve first. There are two short tracks. One takes you up the Sandymount summit where you’ll get some amazing views of Hoopers Inlet and Allans Beach. Go on a nice day and the blue water of Hoopers Inlet really stands out.

The other track leads to a viewpoint overlooking Allans Beach. If you’re looking for some scenic short walks you’ll struggle to beat Sandymount.

You can also see Hoopers Inlet from the Mount Charles Track although it’s currently closed to the public (hoping this changes one day!) as well as the Harbour Cone Track (plus another track or two – there are heaps around here).

READ MORE: 18 of the Best Walks in Dunedin

Driving Around Hoopers Inlet

Once done at Sandymount you can drive down to Hoopers Inlet and then around to Allans Beach. It’s a nice stretch of road with some cute boathouses adding to the scenic beauty. Just before Allans Beach there’s a colony of sea lions you can observe hanging out in Hoopers Inlet.

READ MORE: 30 of the Best Things to Do in Dunedin

Allans Beach

Allans Beach is one of the South Island’s best beaches. It’s a lovely place for a walk and you’ll often see plenty of sea lions. The car park is at the northern end of the beach — you can walk all the way along to Hoopers Inlet just below Sandymount at the southern end of the beach.

READ MORE: Top 12 Beaches in the South Island, New Zealand

Southern Lights

Hoopers Inlet is one of the best places in Dunedin to see the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis). There’s very little light pollution and there’s a clear view south. We went there once and didn’t really see it, although if we’d have known how to get good photos we could have at least photographed it. I saw it over 20 years ago while at a party in Portobello (a kilometre or so away) and it was so vivid and clear — it doesn’t happen like that often but if it does then Hoopers Inlet is where you want to be.


Portobello is a short walk / drive from Hoopers Inlet. It’s a small town with a few places to sleep and eat — a good spot to stop for lunch before or after you explore this section of the Otago Peninsula.

Are you planning a trip to Dunedin? Check out our Dunedin Travel Guide for lots of tips!

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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.