Tomahawk Beach, Dunedin

Why go to Tomahawk Beach?

The sun is shining in Dunedin (I know it’s rare) and you want to visit a quiet beach close to town — definitely consider heading to Tomahawk Beach. The beach itself is great, but the best part is the view from above the sands. Also, it has the coolest name of any Dunedin beach!

Tomahawk Beach

Dunedin’s beaches aren’t exactly tropical, but their rugged, windswept charm makes them fun to explore and photograph. Tomahawk Beach is no different. The white (ish) sands, wavy water and rocky cliffs attract a few local walkers and surfers. There is also a large network of sand dunes which is cool to explore. There are various paths through the dunes, some of which aren’t particularly easy to follow. I had a little adventure trying to climb up the dunes and then through the trees at the far end of the beach. It seemed like the place you’d hide a dead body. I eventually found my way out, with a few scrapes and scratches for souvenirs. There are more defined paths so I’d recommend sticking to them.

Tomahawk Beach, Dunedin, New ZealandSand dunes at Tomahawk Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Above the Beach

Dunedin beaches are generally more impressive from above, so when visiting Tomahawk Beach it’s advised to head up the hill on the far side. The views from up there are amazing. You can see right out over the beach, the dunes, Lawyers Head and even all the way to St Clair. You can also see Smails Beach from above if you continue up the hill for another couple of minutes.

The view from the dunes at Tomahawk Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Tomahawk Lagoon

You probably read the word lagoon and expected to see a blue-watered tropical paradise just begging to be swum in. Tomahawk Lagoon isn’t quite up to those standards and I definitely wouldn’t swim there — it does play host to a variety of birds though. While walking by the lagoon I met Edward, an older gentleman who lives nearby and he told me all about the birds (swans. herons, egrets etc) in Tomahawk Lagoon. If you’re into these kinds of birds (AKA the non-colourful / non-cute ones) make sure to bring your camera.

Getting to Tomahawk Beach

Most people explore this part of New Zealand by car, but Tomahawk Beach is easily accessed if you don’t have your own transport. You can walk like I did, which took me around an hour (it was a pretty quick pace though) or catch a number 3 bus from the centre of town to the suburb of Tomahawk (George St or the Exchange would be the best places to catch it). Tell the driver you also want to go to Smails Beach and he’ll drop you off on the hill at the far end of the beach, meaning you won’t have to walk very far.

Visit Smails Beach while at Tomahawk Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Make sure to visit nearby Smails Beach

Nearby Beaches

  • Smails Beach — This stunning beach is right next to Tomahawk Beach — don’t miss it if you’re in the area. You can freedom camp there but only if you’re self-contained.
  • St Clair / St Kilda Beach — This long stretch of beach is also right next door. You can cut across the golf course (apparently there’s a track but I couldn’t find it) but it’s quite a long way.

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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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