Best Walks in Dunedin

The Otago Peninsula is full of scenic, sheltered walks and pleasant, easy hikes from Dunedin. In this blog, you will find information on some of the leading walks and hiking trails you can spend time enjoying around Dunedin, New Zealand, and the inspiration to get out and explore them.

How cold will I be walking around Dunedin?

Here in Dunedin, we have a great climate for outdoor activities – not too hot and not too cold! Our temperatures typically range from 4°C and 18°C and rarely fall below 1° –  which means fantastic hiking conditions year-round.

Are there beginner-friendly hikes in Dunedin?

Dunedin’s coastal terrain offers secluded beaches, beautiful dunes, staggering cliffs, hidden coves, forested hills, and amazing wildlife all along the Otago Peninsula

Exploring the best walks in downtown Dunedin

See our top 5 recommendations to walk through delightful scenery while expanding your South Island hiking portfolio!

  1. Tunnel Beach
  2. Sandfly Bay
  3. Okia Reserve
  4. Pineapple Track
  5. Boulder Beach

Tunnel Beach

A woman at the Tunnel Beach Sandstone cliff.

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The Tunnel Beach walk starts from the Tunnel Beach Road car park just a 9-minute drive from our Pegasus Dunedin City branch. This is a beautiful spot right in Dunedin central, and the view from the steep track along the coastline is stunning.

On your walk, explore the sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches, and caves, and follow a tunnel leading to the spectacular rocky coastline. It is about a 20-minute easy walk each way, and you’ll find seating on the way down where you can rest. This is one walk in Dunedin that is great for the whole family.

Sandfly Bay

A hiking track along Sandfly Bay beachfront.

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Just a 13km drive in your Pegasus rental car from central Dunedin, will take you to a place that boasts the best views of the coastline. Don’t be fooled by the name – the wind makes the fine sand fly through the air, hence ‘Sandfly’. The track begins at the car park at the end of Seal Point Road, leading to a lookout point and information boards. It’s a great place to spot sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins; you could even mistake the fur seals for rocks around the beach. The walk boasts beautiful scenery, including a few islands off the coast.

It is worth the 45-minute hike, and your kids will love the huge sand dunes. This is a great place to hide out and escape the hustle and bustle of city life, and it is one of the more famous walking trails Dunedin has on offer.

Okia Reserve

Pyramids of Okia Reserve during sunset.

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36 minutes away from Dunedin, you will find New Zealand’s very own great pyramid right here at the Okia Reserve. Unlike the ones you’d find in Egypt, ours aren’t man-made but were created by Mother Nature through enormous volcanic activity once upon a time.

Okia is a hidden jewel that is full of native flora and fauna. It’s a lovely place to walk around and features some fantastic tracks, including the Victory Beach walk. It’s a relatively short walkit will take you approximately an hour and a half to complete the loop. If you head out at low tide, you can see a sunken ship, and you’ll find signs describing the history of the wildlife in the area along the way.

Side note, dogs are prohibited. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust and Dunedin City Council do an amazing job maintaining the reserve, so we ask that you follow their request and leave your dog at home on this occasion. While you are in the vicinity, you can easily add a visit to Taiaroa Head from the Okia Reserve and visit the Royal Albatross Centre – one of our favourite places to visit and see these famous birds.

Pineapple Track

panoramic mountaintop view at Pineapple Track.

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A short 20-minute drive from Dunedin city will bring you to Pineapple Track. Enjoy a scenic forest walk along Dunedin’s skyline, offering amazing views of the city and Otago Harbour. It passes through the tussock country above the tree line of Flagstaff Hill.

During pioneering times, a flag was hoisted on Flagstaff Hill when a ship would enter the harbour to berth. And in the 1920s, locals would guide people up the track and provide the trampers with snacks of tinned pineapple when they rested at the top of the steep sections. They often left the tins hanging in trees or on a fence, hence the track name. Thankfully, times have changed; we wouldn’t dream of leaving our rubbish behind nowadays!

This walk is one of the more incredible Dunedin tracks and is about a 10km round trip, or 2 hours each way. Be mindful of the long steep climb, but the descent towards the Bull Ring car park on Flagstaff Whare Flat Road is pretty easy. You’ll also find other hiking trails nearby – if you’re feeling adventurous and have the energy, you could find a way to Ross Creek and the city.

Boulder Beach

beach view of Boulder Beach with waves crashing.

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Boulder Beach gets its name from the long row of boulders backing the beach landscape. It is located about 15 km from the city centre, and you can access it by one of several walking tracks. The beach is west of Sandfly Bay; however, Boulder Beach has lots of rocks, with only one section composed of sand.

The hike to the beach takes approximately 20 minutes, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views. The hard white sand gives it a pristine feel, and at low tide, it’s an excellent place for a stroll, run and recreational sports.

Places to Hike

You’ll discover countless Dunedin walks; the following are a few hiking trails that deserve an honorary mention:

night view of Dunedin city from mountain.

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  • Nicols Creek Walk is a short back trail near Dunedin city. It features a waterfall and is suitable for all fitness levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is best visited from September until May. You may even see glow worms!
  • The Mount Cargill Walking Track is a well-maintained track that walkers up through a pine forest that turns into native bush. As you walk up the bush track, keep your ears tuned for Tui and Bellbird song and an eye out for Wood Pigeon scoffing berries in the treetops. The climb ends at the top of Mount Cargill with spectacular views of the Dunedin landscape. The return walk takes around four hours.
  • Hoopers Inlet Walk is one of two large inlets on the Pacific coast of the Otago Peninsula. The inlet is a peaceful location was part of a traditional Māori route for collecting shellfish. Its shallow waters are known for their diverse native birds. On a clear night, this is one of the best places for great views of the Aurora Australis.

Explore Dunedin with Pegasus rental car!

We hope that our suggestions for walks around Dunedin, New Zealand, will inspire your Dunedin hiking holiday. Why not map out your trip now, book with Pegasus today, and satisfy your exploration spirit. We have 2 Pegasus offices in the Dunedin region Dunedin Airport and Dunedin City.