Smails Beach, located a short distance from Dunedin’s city centre, is the perfect place to go for stunning coastal views. There are several viewpoints above the beach, and when the tide is low, parts of Smails beach look almost tropical (which is rare for Dunedin). It’s also an easy beach to visit if you’re relying on public transport.
Above Smails Beach
Smails Beach is just next door to Tomahawk Beach and there are incredible views of both beaches from the top of the hill which separates them. From the top of the hill you can walk down past a series of viewpoints, some of which double up as car parks. There are also some old ruined buildings at the top of the hill — walk between them and to the coast for a nice view back towards Tomahawk Beach. For even better views, walk up the nearby Karetai Road Track.
READ MORE: 30 Fun Things to Do in Dunedin
Sand dunes are always fun to walk up and down (unless you’re wearing shoes, in which case they are pretty annoying). The dunes are small (this certainly isn’t the Sahara we’re talking about) but they definitely add a scenic element to Smails Beach.
The beach itself, accessed via a narrow path, is one of the best in Dunedin. When we last visited the tide was quite far out, which left a patch of water resembling an exotic tropical lagoon. Of course the wind was howling and it was pretty cold, but it did make for some cool photos. Smails Beach mainly attracts local surfers and beach walkers, although I did see a couple of tour buses there one time. Tourists were admiring the beach from above — it really is one of the best viewpoints (or series of viewpoints) in Dunedin.
Getting to Smails Beach is exactly the same as getting to Tomahawk Beach, as they are right next to each other. I could have just copied and pasted my instructions from my Tomahawk Beach post but I do tend to make things more difficult than they need to be. If you’re wheel-less (AKA you don’t have a car) you’ll need to catch the number 3 bus from the city (George St / The Exchange). You could also walk — it only took me around an hour from the city centre.
Other Beaches in Dunedin
There are over 25 beaches in Dunedin and they are all interesting in their own way — check out my post if you’re planning on visiting some of them!
Holidaying in New Zealand soon? Read our two-week South Island itinerary!