Searching for Shells and Caves at Long Beach, Dunedin
Dunedin’s northern beaches don’t see nearly as much tourist action as their Otago Peninsula rivals. Long Beach, around 20 minutes from the centre of the city, is one of the best beaches in the area and has a couple of unique strings in its bow. It’s one of the best beaches in Dunedin for collecting colourful shells and there are several caves to explore at the northern end of the beach.
The Long Beach Caves
There are several caves at the northern end of long beach (turn left from the car park). The biggest is often referred to as Ballroom Cave and used to host infamous cave raves. It’s a really cool space for a party, and it’s obvious that small gatherings still take place there. People occasionally camp there and there are several burnt out bonfires scattered around the place. If you’re looking for a unique Dunedin experience it could be something to consider (bring warm clothes and blankets).
There are several other small caves nearby, some with little seats and the remnants of bonfires and barbecues.
Collecting seashells at Long Beach
From drug-fuelled cave raves we move to a more wholesome activity — collecting seashells. Gia is a fan of colourful shells and since I visited Long Beach alone I thought I’d bring her some home (in place of flowers and other romantic things I don’t buy). It was actually quite fun – I ended up with about a kilogram worth of shells.
Long Beach is quite, um, long. It’s around 2.5 kilometres long in fact and it was entirely deserted when I visited (admittedly it was a frosty Tuesday morning in June). The sand is almost white and the water is calm. There are some tracks through the forest behind the beach. I followed some in search of caves, but just ended up back at the beach again. It’s a cool place to walk though and I even saw a tiny waterfall.
Long Beach isn’t just a beach; it’s also a small community. There are some really nice little houses scattered around — it’s kind of a more upmarket version of Aramoana.
Getting to Long Beach
Long Beach is 25 km / a 30 minute drive from the city. Head towards Port Chalmers and turn up the hill towards Purakaunui. Just before Purakaunui you’ll see the turn-off to Long Beach. The road is winding and not well signed so drive carefully. On the way to Long Beach you’ll pass Heyward Point Road. Follow it to the end then walk a short distance to one of Dunedin’s best viewpoints (read more about it below).
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