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Best Dunedin Hikes and Walks

Here in Dunedin, New Zealand, we have the perfect climate for outdoor activities – not too hot and not too cold! Our temperature range is typically between 4°C and 18°C and is rarely below 1°, fantastic hiking conditions year-round!

Dunedin’s coastal terrain offers you secluded beaches, beautiful dunes, cliffs, hidden coves, forested hills, and wildlife all along its coastlines. You can walk your way through a range of areas with delightful scenery and trails whilst expanding your hiking experience within the South Island.

In this blog, you will find information on some of the leading walks and hikes you can enjoy around Dunedin, and the inspiration to get out and explore them.

Dunedin Downtown Walks

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 scenery is stunning.

Explore the sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches, and caves, and follow a tunnel that leads you down to the spectacular rocky coastline. It is about a 40 mins walk each way and there are seats on the way down, where you can enjoy a rest should your fitness need one. This is one of the walks in Dunedin that is great for kids and the whole extended family.

Sandfly Bay

A hiking track along Sandfly Bay beachfront.

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Just 13km from Dunedin city, you can combine coastal views with wildlife viewing. The track begins at the Sandfly Bay car park at the end of Seal Point Road, where it leads to a lookout point and information boards. It’s a great place to spot sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins, you could even mistake seals for rocks around the beach. It has beautiful scenery with a few little islands off the coast.

Don’t be fooled by the name…it is actually the wind that makes the fine sand fly, hence Sandfly. Sandfly Bay is worth your 45 min hike and your kids will love the sand dunes.  This is a great place to hide out and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and is one of the more famous walking tracks 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 manmade but 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 makes a lovely place for a day mission with amazing tracks and a good beach. It will take you approximately an hour and a half to complete the return walk. If you go at low tide, you can see a sunken ship, and there is a loop walk with signs telling you about the history of the wildlife in the area.

Side note, dogs are not allowed. 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 in Dunedin.

Pineapple Track

panoramic mountaintop view at Pineapple Track.

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After a short 20-minute drive from Dunedin city, you will find Pineapple Track. This is a trail along Dunedin’s skyline with magnificent panoramic views of the city and the Otago Harbour. It passes through the tussock country above the tree line of Flagstaff Hill.

During the pioneering times, a flag was hoisted on Flagstaff Summit whenever 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 would often leave the tins hanging in trees or on a fence, hence the track name. How times have changed, we wouldn’t dream of leaving our rubbish behind nowadays, thankfully!

This is one of the more incredible Dunedin walking tracks and is about a 10km roundtrip or 2 hours each way. Be mindful of long steep climbs but the descent towards the Bull Ring car park is relatively easy.

Boulder Beach

beach view of Boulder Beach with waves crashing.

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Boulder Beach is a rocky beach located about 15 km from Dunedin city. Boulder Beach can be accessed by several walking tracks. The beach is located west of Sandfly Bay but unlike Sandfly Bay, Boulder Beach has lots of rocks with only one section that is composed of sand.

It would take approximately 20 minutes to hike to the beach and the views are impressive. The hard white sand gives it a pristine feel and at low tide, it becomes a great beach for things like running and recreational social sports. Boulder Beach gets its name from the long row of boulders backing the beach landscape.

Places to Hike

There are countless hiking tracks available; the following are a few more that are worth an honorary mention for your “Dunedin Walks” consideration.

night view of Dunedin city from mountain.

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

Ready to visit Dunedin? Hire a Car with Pegasus Today!

We hope that these Dunedin hikes suggestions will provide you with the inspiration for your Dunedin hiking holiday. Why not map out your trip now, book with Pegasus today, and satisfy your exploration spirit. We have 3 Pegasus locations throughout the region Dunedin Airport, Dunedin City, and Port Chalmers.