Karitane Beach / Huriawa Peninsula, Dunedin
The coastline north of Dunedin is ripe for exploring. Deserted beaches, ocean views and rolling hills abound, but you’ll have to get off the main highway to see the best bits. Karitane, with its golden beach, overlooked by the rugged Huriawa Peninsula, is one of the highlights of this underrated region of New Zealand.
If driving from Dunedin (along the coastal road), your first view of Karitane Beach will be from a viewpoint above the village. The light wasn’t the best when we were there, so go in the afternoon if you want a better photo. From there it’s a short drive down to Karitane. The beach is frequented by fishermen and surfers far more than tourists, but it’s a nice place for a walk and there are some cool natural features.
The track around this small peninsula makes for one of the best coastal hikes in Dunedin. It’s a short and easy walk with heaps of stunning views. Huriawa Peninsula was once the site of a Maori pa, a kind of fortified village. There aren’t any remnants from those times (that I could see), so this walk is all about the views. The start of the track is easy to find and it goes in a loop, so there’s no need to backtrack.
There are several coves and bays, spots with sweeping views down the coast and lots of rugged coastal features. The photo opportunities to walking time ratio is high on this track — be careful though as it gets really windy and the paths are quite narrow and slippery. We saw some young guys climb down to the top of the arch (shown below) which didn’t look safe at all. It’s a fairly easy walk and is suitable for most levels of fitness. If you’re lucky you might even see some dolphins. The whole thing takes around an hour and could well be one of your Dunedin highlights.
Getting to Karitane
Karitane is around 30 minutes drive from Dunedin, slightly longer if you take the coast road (which you definitely should). If you want to make a day of it you could drive to Port Chalmers, up the hill to Heyward Point, then around the coast to Long Beach, Purakaunui and Warrington. There are heaps of beaches in this area and it’s just as nice as the Otago Peninsula.
You can also continue on to Moeraki to see the famous boulders and then to Oamaru. Driving from Dunedin to Oamaru normally takes around 75 minutes but you could easily spend a whole day on this journey.
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