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Where Are the Best Beaches in Oamaru?

Where Are the Best Beaches in Oamaru?

Oamaru is best-known for its Victorian architecture, steampunk style and penguins. But are there any good beaches in Oamaru? Yes, and you’re about to find out where they are!

Friendly Bay

Friendly Bay is the beach right in the heart of Oamaru. Only a few minutes’ walk from the old town, it features calm, clear water, a restaurant overlooking the sand and a playground for the kids.

You can walk down Holmes Wharf for a view back towards Friendly Bay, and if you’re walking around this area at dusk you might see some little blue penguins.

The Wrong Side of the Tracks

I couldn’t find a name for the beach on the other side of Holmes Wharf. So close to Friendly Bay but a world away in terms of looks – rocky and windswept and definitely not somewhere most people would consider swimming.

Bushy Beach

Bushy Beach is good place to see yellow-eyed penguins in Oamaru. Go just before sunset and you should see a few walking up from the water to their nests (there is one in the photo below it’s just hard to spot).

It’s worth a look without seeing penguins too. A short track takes you along the cliffs to the penguin hide — it’s an interesting looking beach with the golden sand mixed in with all the rocks — it kinda looks like someone dropped a thin layer of concrete along huge areas of the beach.

Second Beach

Second Beach is reached via a track in the Cape Wanbrow Scenic Reserve.  It took us about 40 minutes to walk there and back and there are some good views along the way. You’ll pass by a small, rocky beach (look out for shags) which doesn’t seem to have a name, and soon after is Second Beach. It’s similar to Bushy Beach — not somewhere you’d want to swim but interesting to look at.

READ MORE: 14 of the Best Things to Do in Oamaru

14s Beach

When we first visited this beach it had no name, and I was hoping to someday name it “ Beach”. Someone got in ahead of me and named it 14s Beach, apparently after the 14th hole of the golf course which sits above it.

I’m not convinced about the name, but you can’t argue with the beach — definitely the best beach in Oamaru in terms of views!

Beaches in Kakanui

Kakanui is a 15-minute drive from Oamaru and is the best option if you want to have a day out at the beach.  All Day Bay / Campells Bay is stunning and is a popular surfing and swimming spot.

It gets busy on weekends but you’ll easily find some space. There isn’t much shade there, but there are things like bathrooms and seats etc. There are a couple of places to buy food in Kakanui but you might want to bring a picnic if coming from Oamaru. Campbells Bay is apparently the name for the section of the beach pictured below while All Day Bay is the name given to the southern end of the beach.

The Drive Between Dunedin and Oamaru

There are heaps of beaches on the roughly 90-minute drive between Oamaru and Dunedin. Karitane, Moeraki Boulders and Waikouaiti Beach are some of the best spots to stop at.

So, Where are the Best Beaches in Oamaru?

Friendly Bay if you’re keen for some beach time but don’t want to travel far, 14s Beach if you’re after a long walk and Kakanui if you’re keen to spend a few hours at a beautiful beach.

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our list of the top 12 beaches in the South Island!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.

Ben cormack

Sunday 2nd of April 2023

You completely missed out all day bay between kakanui and wainakaru. Best beach in the district especially for swimming

Jon Algie

Monday 3rd of April 2023

Hey Ben, I counted that as one stretch of beach -- the names confused me a bit!


Friday 31st of March 2023

You may want to check your facts around Kakanui. The beach you identify as All Day Bay is most likely Campbells Bay based on your photograph and description. All Day Bay is at the southern end of the Bay and is'also a very swimable beach but not the beach you have photographed.

Jon Algie

Monday 3rd of April 2023

Hey Richard, thanks for the comment. I did a little research about the name but remember being a bit confused. It's all one stretch of beach though I guess!

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