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Family fun

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Favourite Instagram spot

  • 2 minutes

Otago, South Island

Sandstone arches, fossil cliffs a visitor magnet

Low tide is the best time to visit as the high tide mark surges up to the cliff faces making access to the sandstone arches impossible.

Explore a natural landform of wind and water carved arches and caves. Walk throug a man made tunnel to a quiet beach with its soaring fossil filled cliff faces.

The tunnel towards the beach at the Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
The tunnel towards the beach at the Tunnel Beach

Tunnel Beach is a great photo moment. Access is via a relatively steep path that leads to a rugged beach framed by soaring cliffs. You get a sense of desolation and wild beauty that characterises much of the Southern beaches. You will pass through a hand cut tunnel. The story behind the tunnel starts on a good note, three girls wanted to swim regularly at the beach, their father John Cargill commissioned the tunnel. According to legend one of the daughters later drowned. The drowning is conjecture and unproven. The tunnel was opened to the public in 1983. Look for the hand cut tools on the sides. If you visit only one beach for insta moments Tunnel Beach is a recommended choice.

St Kilda beach is a well known local beach. It can experience wild surging waves in stormy weather. This can make for dramatic backdrops for photo moments.

Tunnel Beach Track: Dunedin area. Otago region

  • Tunnel Beach is to the south of Dunedin. From Blackhead Road take the signposted turnoff to Tunnel Beach Road. Start at the car park on Tunnel Beach Road.
  • Parking is available on the roadside and is limited.
  • Only park in the designated spaces. Your vehicle can be towed if you block a private road or driveway.
  • There is no point to turn on the road. If you have a large campervan, it can be a challenge.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car – there have been break-ins.
  • Take care walking on the road as it can become busy, particularly between 9 am – 3 pm.

From Tunnel Beach Road end, climb the stile and follow the fenced track downhill to the spectacular, rocky coastline. At the end of the track, a short tunnel with steps leads down to a secluded beach.

The track is steep in some sections and walking shoes are advised.

The coastal vegetation on the headland is special and easily damaged. Respect the vegetation by remaining behind the barrier and taking photos only.

  • Length: 2 km return via same track
  • Duration: Walking and tramping 1 hour return
  • Easy walking track


Cliff formations at Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Cliff formations at Tunnel Beach, Dunedin, Otago

For more information about Dunedin beaches and what to do visiting Dunedin & Otago Peninsula check out Dunedin Travel Guide.



Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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