8 of the Best Dunedin Walks and Where to Treat Yourself Afterwards

Canoe Beach in Dunedin on a sunny day.

Dunedin was designed for adventure. And not only is it beautiful, but 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 and around 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, but 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 on a sunny day.

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 creatures including fur seals, sea lions and the cute 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, it was 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 satisfier. Head back towards town and give your feet a rest by parking up 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, or perhaps the cacao, tahini and puffed millet slice. Both 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 the beach at low tide and make your way through black stone caves and arches and see what you discover. 

Some clever orienteering from here will take you 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 rotating local food trucks parked up outside. From loaded nachos to venison burgers, these satisfying snacks certainly beat scroggin.

Photo supplied by Dunedin NZ. 

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 the 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 activity and bask in the glory of your adventures. 

Photo supplied by Dunedin NZ.

Otago Harbour Walk and Cycleway + Glenfalloch Café and Restaurant

430 Portobello Road, Macandrew Bay, Dunedin (Glenfalloch Café and Restaurant)

The Otago Harbour walk and cycleway is another iconic Dunedin 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, from which 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, seabirds, 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.

Photo supplied by Dunedin NZ. 

Sandfly Bay + Pack a Picnic from 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 along this phenomenal stretch of beach.

A trail over farmland turns into a sandy track along which you can stop at various viewing platforms for magnificent views. Make your way out 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 a selection of charcuterie, cheeses and condiments for your ocean adventures.  

Photo supplied by Dunedin NZ.

St Clair Beach, Second Beach + Esplanade

250 Forbury Road, Saint Clair (Esplanade)

The St Clair to Second 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 spy some sassy seals before following the path past the Hot Salt Water Pool to another Dunedin sandy paradise: Second 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! 

Photo supplied by Dunedin NZ.

Street Art Tour + Vogel St Kitchen

76 Vogel Street, Dunedin (Vogel St 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 leave their 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 and Saddle Hill, to name a few) and all-day breakfast options made to be washed down with delicious smoothies, juices and Supreme coffee.

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. From here you can head to Sutton Lake, the only inland salt lake in Aotearoa.

This 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 loop walk is about an hour, but it’s worth taking your time to soak in the sights and breathe in some tranquillity while keeping an eye out 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. 

Photo supplied by Dunedin NZ.

Neat Dunedin Places

Dunedin Public Art Gallery

A featured exhibition in the foyer.
Place Dunedin
Galleries and museum key icon.

The jewel in Dunedin's crown.

Best Café

Orange neon sign on the exterior of the cafe.
Place Dunedin
Restaurants key icon.

This Dunedin institution is well worth a visit and perhaps a return to your student days.

The Regent Theatre

The staircase.
Place Dunedin
Theatre and performance key icon.

Re-inspire the romantic side of your brain and pay a visit to The Regent.

Charmaine Reveley

Clothes on racks.
Place Dunedin
Fashion key icon.

Discover original designs that here, always begin with fabric that delights the senses.