Macandrew Bay, Broad Bay and Portobello, Dunedin
The Otago Peninsula is one of the main reasons to visit Dunedin, and there is heaps to explore. You’ve got the wild beaches of the ocean side, but the harbour side has its charms too. The small settlements of Macandrew Bay, Broad Bay and Portobello are good options if you want to stay outside the city centre and are also worth a quick look if you’re passing through on the way to Taiaroa Head.
This is the first proper place to stop along the road from Dunedin to Taiaroa Head (apart from Glenfalloch Gardens) and you’ll find some cafes, a dairy and a small beach. It’s a nice spot on a sunny day and the beach is actually pretty good. If you’ve got little ones who want to swim in some calm water it could be a good option, or it’d be a good spot to eat or a grab a coffee.
I lived in Broad Bay for a few months and it’s a great spot. There aren’t any shops like you’ll find in Macandrew Bay but there’s a similar beach area. It’s a good spot for a picnic or a swim, and you’ll also see some cute boat houses nearby.
Broad Bay is home to Fletcher House, an old Edwardian dwelling set up as a museum, but it’s only open for tours on weekends and public holidays.
Broad Bay is one of the starting points for the Harbour Cone Track. This is one of the best hikes in Dunedin and gives you incredible views over the Peninsula and Otago Harbour. If you’re going to do one hike on the Otago Peninsula, this should be it. You can also walk from Broad Bay (Camp Road) to Larnach Castle if you’re after a bit more exercise.
Portobello features a restaurant, pub and a few shops. There are a few places to stay in Portobello and if you’re planning on exploring the peninsula for a day or two it makes for the perfect place to stay. A good thing to do in Portobello is drive down Hatchery Road where you’ll get nice views back towards Portobello, including the Harbour Cone.
You can keep driving down this road for more awesome views of the harbour, including Quarantine Island. There’s an aquarium there too, which I remember visiting as a kid, but is mostly closed to the public these days. It says the last part of this road is private and not to drive there, but by the time I saw the sign it was too late to turn around, so I had no choice.
From Portobello you can also head over to Hoopers Inlet. It’s one of the best places in Dunedin to see the Southern Lights. I saw them at a party in Portobello when I was a teenager and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed. The road to Hoopers Inlet will also take you to Allans Beach or up to the Sandymount Track.
Soon after Portobello you’ll reach Otakau, which is home to a small golf course. After that you’ll see Wellers Rock, Harrington Point Beach and Taiaroa Head. If you’re visiting in a day I’d recommend driving the harbour side road to Taiaroa Head (stopping off at a few places I’ve mentioned) then head back to Portobello and over to Allans Beach and Sandymount before checking out Sandfly Bay, Larnach Castle, the Karetai Road Track and Smails Beach. There are so many options though, and if you want to see all the highlights you’ll need a couple of days.
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