Being located at the bottom of the South Island, the Scottish-roots town of Dunedin feels the blast of cold Antarctic winds throughout the year, but summer is a different story. Being so far south means that the Otago region benefits from extra-long daylight hours in which you can explore and play. It has a rich and rugged coastline with many beaches and bays, as well as fantastic inland destinations. Here are our top picks for you to check out this summer, all easy to reach in your Dunedin rental car.
Tunnel Beach – Found at the end of an easy 20 minute walk from Tunnel Beach road, this secluded spot has an interesting Victorian history that gives it a romantic atmosphere. Although a naturally beautiful spot, what really makes this beach stand out is the enormous tunnel excavated in the 1970’s by John Cargill to create a private bathing space for his family. There’s also a natural arch, strange boulders and mysterious graffiti that give the place a strangely haunted feel.
Ross Creek – Although summer promises many fine days in Dunedin, in true New Zealand fashion there’s always the possibility of the weather caving in. On wet and windy days, the Ross Creek trail provides a sheltered walk through beautifully preserved native bush land. There are a number of intersecting trails so that you can start and end in a number of places, and is overall an easy and undemanding walk.
Karitane – Karitane is a beautiful bay with so much to do. A local charter service operates a boat that takes passengers out to try their luck fishing while enjoying a panoramic view of the coast from out on the water. You can also roll up your sleeves and take a kayaking trip yourself, choosing where to go and what to explore.
Victory Beach – The tragic sinking of the SS Victory in 1861 serves as the namesake for this completely undeveloped beach, a superb getaway for when you want to enjoy nature in its pristine state. Home to sea lions, seals and two types of penguins, it’s a natural sanctuary with dune country, wetland and rugged coast all coming together to form a unique environment. Also worth seeing are the geometric basalt-stone Pyramids.
Dunedin is a fantastic place to visit during summer as the long days give you plenty of time to explore in a Dunedin rental car and make the most of this naturally beautiful area.