Purakaunui Beach, Dunedin

Purakaunui Beach is one of the best and most isolated beaches in Dunedin. Chances are it’ll be quiet when you visit and there are some cool things to see nearby, including a Maori pa (fortified village) with great views, another couple of beaches, the “Arches” and the calm waters of Purakaunui Inlet.

Purakaunui Beach

This long stretch of beach is perfect for a stroll. The sand is hard and white and the headlands at either end provide some nice scenery. I visited in the morning (I had to time it with low tide, as you’ll find out later) and it was pretty idyllic. I didn’t see any wildlife but I’m sure it’s around. With so many beaches in Dunedin some get lost in the shuffle, but I highly recommend a trip out to Purakaunui Beach – not just for the beach but for what’s nearby.

Purakaunui Beach, Dunedin, New ZealandEarly morning light at Purakaunui Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Mapoutahi Pa

For stunning views above Purakaunui Beach and Canoe Beach head up to Mapoutahi Pa (it’s at the northern end of the beach). It’s a short walk to the top and the views are beautiful. I couldn’t see any evidence of what used to be here but you can see why this place was ideal for a coastal fortification. 

READ MORE: Looking for lots more Dunedin viewpoints? Check our post!

View of Purakaunui Beach from Mapoutahi Pa, Dunedin, New ZealandView of Canoe Beach and Doctors Point from Mapoutahi Pa, Dunedin, New Zealand

Purakaunui Inlet

Dunedin’s beaches are often windswept and rugged, but the ones that back onto an inlet have a different side to them. You’ll often see calm, crystal clear water at these beaches (Warrington Beach and Allans Beach are also examples of this) and Purakaunui Beach is no different. You can also drive up the other side of Purakaunui Inlet for some great views. You might even see a wood pigeon (a native NZ bird) like we did. There’s a small community there and it seems like a cool place to live.

READ MORE: Check out our post about the best things to do in Dunedin!

Purakaunui Inlet, Dunedin, New Zealand

Canoe Beach / Doctors Point / the Arches

I’ve written posts about these places already, so I won’t go into too much detail. A good way of getting to Purakaunui Beach is to park at Doctors Point and walk through the Arches (only at low tide though), along Canoe Beach and then to Purakaunui Beach. You can walk all the way along to Purakaunui Inlet — it’s easily one of Dunedin’s top short walks!

The Arches, Doctors Point, Dunedin, New Zealand

Getting to Purakaunui Beach

You can go via Doctors Point as I explained before or there’s a car park closer to Purakaunui Beach at the end of Osborne Road. It’s around 30 minutes from Dunedin. If you go through Port Chalmers and up over the hill it’s a pretty scenic drive, and you can also  continue on through Coastal Otago to Oamaru and beyond — there’s so much to see on this road (including the Silver Peaks Reserve, home to the best day hike in Dunedin).

Need some New Zealand travel advice? Check out our detailed South Island Travel Guide!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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