9 of the Best Dunedin Walks and Where to Treat Yourself Afterwards
Dunedin was designed for adventure. And not only is it beautiful, it’s also home to some of the tastiest brews and bites in the country.
Words by: Sophie Morris
Photography by: Neat Places & Dunedin NZ
With a volcanically formed peninsula, meandering coastline and artistically progressive city, there are a plethora of places to explore in Dunedin.
Whether you want to stroll the central city streets, breathe in the ocean air, watch for wildlife, or immerse yourself in native bush, this scenic southern hub has it all. And not only is it beautiful, it’s also home to some of the tastiest brews and bites in the country.
Dunedin was designed for adventure. Here’s our guide to the best places to stretch your legs in Dunedin and where to feed your appetite and rehydrate afterwards.
Allans Beach + Tuppence
146 Larnach Road, Waverley, Dunedin (Tuppence)
Allans Beach is a wild and rugged piece of paradise just half an hour out of Dunedin. Stretching over a kilometre long, this beach is peaceful and remote - making it a great home for many cute creatures including fur seals, sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins.
Head to Hoopers Inlet for a sheltered spot and some top-notch views. To level up your adventure, make a stop at Victory Beach afterwards – the longest beach on the Peninsula named after the ship that sank off its shores. Beautiful and slightly eerie, it’s home to many treasures including two basalt pyramids. Pro tip: visit at low tide to see the flywheel of the shipwreck in the surf.
All that walking is worthy of a serious appetite. Head back towards town and give your feet a rest at Tuppence – a neighbourly café done well. Check out their cabinet and menu for creatively made food showcasing locally sourced ingredients - try their house-made nut and seed loaf followed with a cacao, tahini and puffed millet slice – delicious and nutritious.
Doctors Point + Arc Brewing Co.
1870 Waikouaiti-Waitati Road, Evansdale (Arc Brewing Co.)
Doctors Point is Dunedin’s version of Cathedral Cove but without the crowds. Peaceful and awe-inspiring, it is the perfect place for an adventure. Head along at low tide and make your way through black stone caves and arches for a rewarding walk on the long stretching beach.
Some clever orienteering here will direct your journey to Arc Brewing Co. – a funky brewery and taproom located in the converted Blueskin Hotel. Shake off your shoes and settle in for a warm welcome and introduction by friendly staff to their range of small-batch handcrafted beers and other fermented refreshments.
Warm your feet by the fire before grabbing a bite from one of the local food trucks parked up on rotation outside serving satisfying snacks. From loaded nachos to venison burgers – it certainly beats scroggin.
Organ Pipes + Union Co
2 George Street, Port Chalmers (Union Co Café)
The Organ Pipes are a 10-million-year-old geological marvel resembling, well, organ pipes. A steady climb through pine forest and native bush will reveal columnar basalt pillars rising out of the Mount Cargill forest, created long ago during the volcanic formation of Dunedin. Pack shoes with good grip as a short climb up the pillars themselves will reveal breathtaking panoramic views across Dunedin City and its surroundings.
Tackling this walk certainly deserves a treat. Make your way to historic Port Chalmers and pop into Union Co Café – a local favourite serving up locally roasted espresso and freshly baked goods from smoked fish pies to panforte and vegan chocolate chunk cookies. Settle in to watch the Port and bask in the glory of your adventures.
Otago Harbour walk and cycleway + Glenfalloch Gardens Café and Restaurant
430 Portobello Road, Macandrew Bay, Dunedin (Glenfalloch Gardens Café and Restaurant)
The Otago Harbour walk and cycleway is another iconic Dunedin spot and a must-do for visitors and locals alike.
This walkway has been thoughtfully established to allow for walking, cycling and running while taking in the sights of the Otago Harbour. Seats are dotted along the path, where you can take a quiet moment to rest your legs and soak in the changing vistas. With views well-worthy of an aesthetic Instagram feed, you can park up and keep watch for visitors to the city - including boats, ships, sea birds, seals and even dolphins (if you’re super lucky).
After the sightseeing you can satisfy your cravings at Glenfalloch – a café and restaurant picturesquely set in 30 acres of historic woodland garden. Take a stroll through native ferns, indigenous trees and exotic imports before settling in for a locally roasted coffee alongside beautifully presented and flavourful food.
Sandfly Bay & Pack a Picnic at Marbecks Foodstore
Wall Street Mall 16/211 George Street, Dunedin (Marbecks)
If you’re craving a dramatic landscape – think massive sand dunes made for sliding down and rugged coastline - then this walk is for you. Rather than the pesky insects, Sandfly Bay is actually named after the tendency for sand to fly in strong winds on this phenomenal stretch of beach.
A trail over farmland turns into a sandy track where you can stop at various viewing platforms for magnificent views and make your way to the beach to check out the wildlife, headlands and coastal rock formations including Lion Rock.
For this trip, we recommend packing a picnic from Marbecks Foodstore before heading off down the Peninsula. Offering a range of specialty groceries, their friendly French deli staff can help you pack a luxurious lunch box or take away charcuterie of high-quality meats, cheeses and condiments for your ocean adventures.
St Clair Beach, Second Beach + The Esplanade
250 Forbury Road, Saint Clair (The Esplanade)
The Saint Clair to Seconds Beach walk is an iconic Dunedin stroll if there ever was one. Start by taking an amble along the St Clair Esplanade – a promenade dotted with bars, restaurants and seaside shops.
Watch the surfers and maybe even some sassy seals before following the path past the Hot Salt Water Pool to another Dunedin sandy paradise – Seconds Beach. Keep your ears open as you walk – volcanic boulders roll in the tides, creating a soundscape worthy of a meditation app.
A gently meandering trail ends at a headland, providing the perfect spot to take in the spectacular views back up the Otago Coast. This walk is a short trip from the city centre and is wheelchair accessible.
When you’re ready to refuel, pop into Esplanade – an authentic Italian eatery with great service and one of the best views in town - hands down. Park yourself up in a window seat to enjoy one of their ever-popular Mediterranean meals with a homemade soda or a refreshing spritz. Buon appetito!
Street Art Tour + Vogel Street Kitchen
76 Vogel Street, Dunedin (Vogel Street Kitchen)
A southern town filled with vibrancy and creativity, Dunedin is home to a world-class street art trail.
The brainchild of a passionate group of volunteers, the project combines high profile and up and coming local artists looking to make their own unique mark - and what better place to do that than on the buildings of the second-largest South Island city. A quick Google will give you a map to the trail where you can look, and then look again at the colourful and sometimes colossal creations.
While in the Warehouse Precinct it’s worth treating yourself to a stop at Vogel St Kitchen – a funky and open spaced café appropriately located in a converted warehouse, with quirky features inside and larger than life murals on the outside.
The menu focuses on regional flavours and local ingredients, with fan favourites including woodfired pizzas named after Otago locations (George Street, Careys Bay, Saddle Hill to name a few) and all-day breakfast options made to be washed down with delicious smoothies, juices and Supreme coffee.
Woodhaugh Gardens to Ross Creek and Sculptures + ADJØ
10 Bank Street, North East Valley (ADJØ)
A native bush sanctuary in the city centre, Woodhaugh Gardens and Ross Creek make the perfect place for a respite from the daily grind. A collection of tracks will take you through pretty paths where you can satisfy your inner child by jumping on stepping stones through the creeks and bird-watching to your heart’s content. Remember that quote about art imitating life? The Ross Creek Reservoir dam is now home to an art installation of stars created by artists Katrina Thomson and Ross Sinclair, to represent the southern constellations seen in the Dunedin night sky.
When the hunger kicks in head down the hill to ADJØ – a North East Valley café serving up Danish delights in Dunedin. Inspired by Nordic flavours, their menu staples include decadent porridges (think stewed berries with roasted nut and seed crumb) and open sandwiches with fresh and tasty toppings, as well as a vast array of Schnapps (infused in-house) and natural wines on tap – all of the required elements for a great rehydration station.
Sutton Salt Lakes + Kissing Gate Café
2 Swansea Street, Middlemarch (Kissing Gate Café)
Venturing one hour out of Dunedin will take you to Middlemarch, a small but charming southern town. Here you can head to Sutton Lake, the only inland salt lake in New Zealand.
The scenic and serene spot is set out below the ridges of the Rock and Pillar Range and is surrounded by interesting rock formations reminiscent of moonscapes, tussock, and wildflowers. The walk is about an hour loop, but it’s worth taking your time to soak in the sights and breathe in some tranquillity while spotting for birdlife and marine activity.
All that salt makes for thirsty work, so it’s time for a stop at Kissing Gate Café. Old school at heart, this quaint country café in a pioneer cottage serves up delicious scones and cheese puffs with great coffee, cold beer and Central Otago wines. Take a seat under the apple tree in their scenic garden and enjoy a sweet little stop on your journey.
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