Tunnel Beach Walk provides spectacular coastal views including a natural archway / land bridge alongside a buttress like headland covered in coastal turf. The walk includes access through a historic 1870’s tunnel to a small but beautiful beach nestled amongst towering cliffs.
From Tunnel Beach Road end, follow the fenced track downhill to the spectacular, rocky coastline. At the end of the track, a short tunnel with steps leads down to a secluded beach.
This track is steep in some sections. Care is needed on the way down to the beach and there is a steep climb on return to the car park. If you have low fitness or have children that you may struggle to walk back up the track, take plenty of rests and enjoy the view. Walking shoes are strongly recommended.
The coastal vegetation on the headland is special and easily damaged. Respect the vegetation by remaining behind the barrier and taking photos only.
Tunnel Beach is to the south of Dunedin. From Blackhead Road take the signposted turnoff to Tunnel Beach Road. Start at the car park on Tunnel Beach Road.
- Parking is available in the Dunedin City Council car park. Do not park on the roadside.
- Carpark is locked between the hours of:
- 5pm – 9am (April – August)
- 9pm – 8am (September – March)
- Tunnel Beach is still accessible outside of these hours, but nearby parking may be limited.
- Vehicles left in carpark after closing times or blocking private roads or driveway will be towed at owner’s expense.
- Don't leave valuables in your car – there have been break-ins.
- This track is steep in some sections. A good level of fitness and walking shoes are recommended.
- The beach area is tidal and prone to rogue waves.
- There are caves to explore but make sure to check the tide timetable to avoid getting trapped. Torches are recommended in caves.
- This is an exposed coastal site. Take care around cliffs as they may be slippery and unstable after heavy rain.
- This is not a swimming beach.
Repairing damage to turf plants
Coastal turf | Image: Shay van der Hurk
The headland at Tunnel Beach is home to a fragile, critically endangered, community of native plants. These plants and the soils they live in are permanently damaged if people walk on them.
DOC and the University of Otago are working together to test restoration methods to repair damage caused by human trampling.
You may notice aluminium tags and metallic protection marking experimental plots. We are trying to understand what the turf plants need in order to recover from the damage.
What you can do to help:
- stay on the track, keep to the track side of the barrier
- avoid marked areas
- do not touch markers and tags
- contact the Dunedin DOC office if any equipment is damaged.