postcards from dunedin – tunnel beach edition

Things you might not know about me No.277 :: I will totally plan a weekend away around a place I’ve found to stay in, a restaurant, or an interesting walk.

And, our whole Dunedin weekend was planned because (a) we haven’t been away recently, (b) I love adventures and get seriously twitchy when I haven’t had one for a while, and (c) because I read an article about Tunnel Beach and we didn’t go there last time we were in the neighbourhood.

My memory has gaps in it and sometimes, even though it’s distressing, it can work to my advantage. We drove around the Otago Peninsula about 15 years ago on a road trip with friends and I don’t remember most of it. This made the experience of driving it again seem like it was the first time. Even though there were parts of it that triggered memories, I have 15 years of other travel experiences under my belt now and I see it with new eyes anyway. I fell in love with all the little boat sheds and ramps reaching out into the water, and the quiet roads with small villages tucked into little bays.



Tunnel beach is a marvel. It’s a fairly steep track to the bottom making for a hot and arduous climb on the return trip, but the views down the hill and on the beach below are totally worth the effort.

John Cargill, a son of Captain William Cargill, dug the tunnel that leads down to a secluded beach in the 1870’s, so that the Cargill families could bathe in privacy away from the prying eyes of St Clair. The beach has huge sandstone boulders, graffiti carved into the cliffs at heights that have me wondering how people got up there, and a dangerous rip that means its really not safe to swim! It’s best visited at low tide, and the odds were not in our favour that morning. Despite the high tide, we spent an enjoyable hour down there, listening to the waves booming in the sea-sculpted arches and crashing gloriously against the shadowed cliffs.


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