Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

Why go to Tunnel Beach?

This small beach surrounded by sandstone cliffs is one of Dunedin’s most iconic sights. The steps leading down to the beach were commissioned by William Cargill way back in 1870s so his family could frolic in the tropical water (or not, this is Dunedin after all). The combination of history and nature makes Tunnel Beach a must-visit, but it does require a bit of effort.

Walking to Tunnel Beach

From the car park at the top of the hill you’ll need to walk a short distance down to the beach. It’s quite steep so make sure you wear good shoes. The views from the track are stunning — the powerful Pacific Ocean has created a rugged coastline full of interesting features. The most notable of these features is the big arch protruding out into the sea. Once at the bottom of the hill you’ll see a flight of stone steps leading to Tunnel Beach.

A massive arch at Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, New ZealandA path to the Pacific Ocean near Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Walking through a 140 year old tunnel is an interesting way to get to a beach. The beach itself is quite unique — it’s backed by cliffs and boulders and features a massive slab of earth extending into the water. If you visit Tunnel Beach at high tide you won’t be able to access much of the beach – check the tides before you go!

Steps leading to Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, New ZealandTunnel Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Above Tunnel Beach

It’s worth walking up to the top of that the small outcrop that juts out into the ocean — from there you can get a great view of the beach from above. This whole area is really beautiful — if you want to see some of Dunedin’s famous coastline this is a great place to do it.

Read More: Cargill’s Castle, Dunedin

Tunnel Beach from above

Getting to Tunnel Beach

Some tour buses visit Tunnel Beach but most people visit by car. It’s a short distance from town heading south, further along you’ll find Blackhead, Waldronville and Brighton, all of which feature awesome coastal views. You could easily spend a day exploring this part of Dunedin. You can also visit Tunnel Beach by bus but you’ll have to walk a bit — take the bus to Corstorphine and get off at the corner of Middleton Road and Stenhope Crescent (tell the driver you’re going to Tunnel Beach and they should tell you where to get off).– it’s around 30 minutes from there to the car park.

Coastal scenery near Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand

Read More: Don’t have your own transport in Dunedin? Check out the bus timetables — it’s not the easiest city to get around on public transport but it can be done. Also, check out our article on Brighton Beach!

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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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