On the outskirts of Dunedin is a place called Tunnel Beach. It’s a rocky shoreline with sheer cliffs and rocks jutting out of the water. We had one more day left in Dunedin before our flight to Rotorua, so Andy and I decided to go check it out on New Year’s Day. After some research, we found out there is a bus that goes in that gets close, but not quite, to Tunnel Beach. We had at least 20 minutes to walk from where the bus left us, which would’ve been fine had it not been cold, windy, and threatening to rain the whole day.

A small parking lot was the only indication that we were in the right place. The parking lot was a good ways up from the beach, so we had to walk down a winding path through a field to get there. The sign at the entrance to the path told us it would take 45 minutes to walk back up the steep path. I was not happy at the prospect of the steep climb, but I really wanted to see the beach.

Narrow strips of land stuck out into the ocean, shaped by years of weather. In some places only rocks remained, sticking up from the water. It kind of reminded me of a smaller version of the Great Ocean Road.

Finally the beach itself came into view. From where we were standing, it looked impossible to get to, but we knew that wasn’t true. The reason it’s called Tunnel Beach is because a tunnel was dug through the rock and stairs were built so people could get down to the beach.

Despite the weather, we lingered on the beach for awhile just admiring the rocks. Andy put his feet in the water, but I decided against risking hypothermia. (Seriously, it was summer in New Zealand and we were wearing winter coats!) We also geeked out and wrote our blog names in the sand, which other people stared at in confusion.

Eventually we started the uphill walk back up to the top. I hated every minute of it, it was so incredibly steep. I’ve mentioned I’m not in the best shape, right? This hill was torture. We had to keep stopping for breaks, which meant another couple would pass us. Then a few minutes later when we started walking again, we’d pass them taking a break, also gasping for breath. I wanted to cry. (Ok, maybe I did cry a little.) But somehow we still managed to make it up to the top just under the 45 minutes the sign claimed it would take.

Though the climb back up was tricky, at least we knew where we were going. Once we reached the top and started walking back to catch the bus, we realized we didn’t remember exactly where the bus stop was. After passing through some farmland and seeing some sheep and a llama (Or an alpaca? Not really sure. Also, I had no idea there were llamas/alpacas in New Zealand.) we were back in a residential neighborhood.

We wandered for awhile, knowing the bus stop didn’t really look like much of anything. We thought we were in the right place a few times, but eventually we ran after someone driving into their garage a few houses away from where we were and asked where the bus stop was. It turns out we had another block or two to walk. And then it started raining while we waited 20 minutes for the bus to show up.

This might not be the easiest or most convenient place to get to if you don’t have a car, but getting there by bus wasn’t bad. We just should’ve paid better attention to where the bus stop was. I highly recommend checking out Tunnel Beach if you’re in Dunedin, just be sure to bring some water for the trek back up.

Want to see more pictures from New Zealand? Check them out on my Facebook page: New Zealand

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15 comments on “Dunedin’s Tunnel Beach – the Uphill Climb

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Andi! It really was a beautiful beach!

  1. Jennifer

    Great photos! I especially like your blog names written in the sand. And the blue color of the water is just stunning!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Jennifer! It was such a gorgeous beach, I loved that water too!

  2. Matthew Cheyne

    When I first saw the pictures they reminded me of a mini Great Ocean Road too. I think it was the way the cliffs are formed. One major difference though and that is that the Great Ocean Road is typically packed full of tourists during summer. New Zealand is a bit of an untouched wonder (save for the oil spill about 7 months ago) in that its so far away from the beaten path for the world’s tourists that when you finally get there you think the whole place is wonderful, probably because it is.

    Most of us Aussies go there during the winter to take advantage of the better snow that’s on offer there compared to here and the fact that the currency buys more than ours does here.

    1. Ali Post author

      There definitely weren’t nearly as many tourists at Tunnel Beach, so that was nice. New Zealand is such a gorgeous country, and you’re right, it is a bit tough to get to because of how far it is from everywhere else. It looks like it would be a great place to go for winter activities, but I think I would hate how cold it gets. The south island was cold enough in the summer!

  3. Matthew Cheyne

    @ Andrew. Llama or Alpaca? I’m not too sure.

    1. Ali Post author

      Andy and I couldn’t figure it out, no idea what the difference is between a llama and an alpaca. I was just surprised to see it in New Zealand!

  4. Victoria

    What beautiful photos. New Zealand is certainly somewhere we’d like to visit at some point. I went when I was 18 but it was a bit of a whirlwind adventure tour. Dunedin will be on the itinerary next time.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thank you Victoria! Dunedin was a nice city, and we especially enjoyed Tunnel Beach. I hope you make it back there one of these days!

  5. Pingback: Tunnel Beach, Dunedin - Ctrl Alt Travel

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