John Wilson Ocean Drive, Dunedin

John Wilson Ocean Drive, sitting above St Kilda beach in Dunedin, is one of the most scenic city roads in New Zealand. It’s perfect for a stroll or for somewhere to park up and eat your takeaways. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about John Wilson Drive!

Where Is It?

John Wilson Ocean Drive (just John Wilson Drive to locals, which is what I’ll refer to it as in the rest of this post) is in the suburb of St Kilda, Dunedin. It’s 5 km from the Octagon (city centre) and only 3 km from St Clair Beach. Combine John Wilson Drive and St Clair / St Kilda Beach for an awesome beach day in Dunedin!

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

Walking / Driving

The first part of John Wilson Drive is open at all times but the last couple of km is blocked off, with vehicle access between 11am – 3pm weekdays. You can walk / cycle all of it at any time, so if the road is blocked just park up and walk to Lawyers Head (it’s much better for walking when the traffic is blocked).

John Wilson Drive is a popular spot for exercise for a wide range of people. You’ll pass by joggers, kids on bikes, parents with strollers, sightseers and many others, and if you’re a golf fan you can watch people struggle around the course below.

READ MORE: 18 of the Best Walks in Dunedin

Lawyers Head

Lawyers Head makes a good goal if walking all the way along John Wilson Drive. From there you’ll get a great view back along St Kilda / St Clair Beach as well as Tomahawk Beach and Smails Beach. You can walk on the golf course too if you’re keen for a better look at Tomahawk Beach (obviously be careful of balls!).

Beach Access

There are several tracks through the dunes along John Wilson Drive. They head steeply down from the road — not for the feint hearted! You can also access the beach via much easier tracks at the start of John Wilson Drive (by the surf club and another small car park to the right as you go up the hill.

READ MORE: 26 of the Best Beaches in Dunedin

The Details

John Wilson Drive is a favourite with locals for many reasons and therefore gets quite busy. Go early morning or late afternoon for a quieter experience. If you’re looking for food to bring you’ve got takeaways nearby (Camp Store) and heaps of food options a couple of kilometres away in South Dunedin. You’re also close to the cafes, bars and restaurants of St Clair — maybe walk over to John Wilson Drive and work that big meal off!

READ MORE: 10 of the Best Things to Do in St Clair, Dunedin

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

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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.