Nestled amongst the farmland of the Taieri Plains, just outside of Dunedin, the Sinclair Wetlands is a cool place to visit if you’re into bird watching and low-key lake / pond views. It’s a peaceful spot — we visited on a holiday weekend in October and it was completely deserted! Keep reading to find out more about this off the beaten path place in (or very close to) Dunedin.
Getting to the Sinclair Wetlands
The Sinclair Wetlands are located a little way off the main road between Dunedin and Milton. To get there, turn down Phosphate Road or Henley-Berwick Road and follow the signs. Just before arriving at the car park there’s another little viewing area, and from there it’s a short drive to the main area. You can camp at the car park ($8 per person, or $12 for a powered site). There are a few information panels and a place to donate your gold (this is a privately-run conservation area, so every dollar counts).
Sinclair Wetlands Walking Tracks
The Pond Loop
This is the first track you’ll come to – it takes you around a pond area and the views are awesome on a clear, still day. This was the wettest part of the track and our shoes got soaked – I guess we should have worn hiking shoes!
After doing the Pond Loop Track the main track continues towards Lonely Island and Ram Island. They aren’t islands in the traditional sense, but they do allow you to get above the wetlands for some nice views. The first one you’ll reach is Lonely Island – it’s a short climb to the top where you’ll get (almost) 360-degree views. There’s a picnic table at the top too – this would be a serene place for a picnic!
After heading back down to the main track you’ll soon reach Ram Island. Again, it’s a short climb to the top but there’s a little more to see on this island. There are more great views in most directions and there’s another picnic table at the end. And that’s pretty much it – you’ll head back to the car park the way you came.
READ MORE: 30 Fun Things to Do in Dunedin
What about the Birds?
Sinclair Wetlands is most famous as a haven for birdwatchers. We saw a few birds (mostly ducks) but didn’t get any good photos. Personally, these kinds of birds (ducks, herons etc) aren’t particularly interesting so we weren’t too fussed about seeing them all / getting good photos.
Other Things to do Nearby
You can check out Lake Waihola, journey to Crystalls Beach or drive to Waipori Falls or Berwick Forest. We drove to Waipori Falls but the road was closed towards the end. It was only another 1.5 km, so we parked up and walked, only to discover that the track to the falls was also closed! The articles I saw online about Waipori Falls never mentioned this, so hopefully you see this before trying to go there.
Are you planning a trip to Dunedin? Check out my other posts!
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