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Karetai Track, Dunedin

Karetai Track, Dunedin

You can see Smails Beach from the series of car parks on Tomahawk Road, but if you’re keen for a hike and want to see this stretch of coastline from a different perspective the Karetai Track is a great option. Walking from Smails Beach up the hill to Karetai Road takes around 75 minutes return and there is heaps to see.

Karetai Track

The Karetai Track takes you along an old dirt road connecting Smails Beach with Karetai Road. It makes for an easy hike and you’ll see some wonderful views over Smails Beach, Tomahawk Beach and the long suburban stretch of St Kilda / St Clair Beach

The track cuts through farmland and is fairly steep at the start. It doesn’t take long until you’re well above Smails Beach and looking out over Dunedin. There are so many great coastal views to see in Dunedin and this is right up there with the best.

There’s a short detour (which you should see as it’s quite obvious) which takes you to a viewpoint overlooking the Otago Peninsula coastline towards Sandfly Bay and Sandymount. There are some spectacular short hikes in this area — check out our post about the best walks in Dunedin to find out more.

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

Hiking the Karetai Road Track, Dunedin, New Zealand

After the detour the track continues up to Karetai Road. This is the other end of the track and you could easily start there instead (although I much prefer to get the uphill walking out of the way first). There are several other tracks nearby including the Paradise Track and the Highcliff Track. I’m hoping someone connects all these tracks up at some point — you should be able to walk all the way from Portobello to St Clair.

Smails Beach

Smails Beach is part of a long chain of beaches on the Otago Peninsula / northern coastline. It’s an easy one to visit and can be combined with Tomahawk Beach and St Kilda / St Clair for a fun day out.

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

Getting to the Karetai Track

Drive along Tomahawk Road and then turn right once past the beach. The track is easy to find and there is plenty of room to park. The Karetai Track is a good option for people relying on public transport. You can catch bus number 3 to Tomahawk Road and then walk along the road (or part of the way on the beach) and then on towards the track.

READ MORE: 26 of the Best Beaches in Dunedin

Are you planning a trip to Dunedin? Check out our Dunedin 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.