New Zealanders don’t often utter the two words "Dunedin" and "beaches" in the same breath, but the truth is, there are at least eight or nine magnificent, unspoiled, white-sand beaches within an easy drive of Dunedin. You may not always want to swim in the coolish waters, but from a scenic point of view, they’re worth a visit. St. Kilda and St. Clair are probably the best known, made famous by a dedicated band of wet--suited surfers. A short drive north to the Port Chalmers area reveals Long Beach, Aromoana, and Purakanui, and on Otago Peninsula, Pilot’s Beach (near the Albatross Centre), Victory Beach, Sandfly Bay, and Seal Point are all generally deserted and beautiful. Closer to town you have Tunnel Beach, which is accessed through private property and a tunnel. Ask the staff at the visitor center for driving instructions. You’ll find great walks on Brighton Beach, a 20-minute drive south of Dunedin.
Dunedin may be hilly, but there are great cycling opportunities, especially out on the peninsula. Rent a bike from Browns, 110 Crawford St. (tel. 03/477-7259). If you’re more into fat tires, the visitor center’s excellent brochure Mountain Bike Rides in Dunedin outlines all the best tracks. Visit www.cyclingotago.co.nz for even more information.
Nearby Port Chalmers is known for its stellar salmon and trout fishing from October to April. If you want to try your hand at shark fishing, deep-sea fishing, saltwater, or light-tackle sport fishing, call Otago Harbour Salmon Fishing Charters, 7 Henderson St., Mornington (tel. 03/453-6614), or inquire at the Dunedin visitor center for other options. Wannabe Fishin’ (tel. 03/415-7146; firstname.lastname@example.org) knows all the best local spots for trout fishing and hunting.
The Otago Golf Club Balmacewen Course (tel. 03/467-2096; www.otagogolfclub.co.nz) has been operating since 1896. It’s an 18-hole championship course with a fully stocked pro shop. Members pay NZ$45, nonmembers pay NZ$75. St. Clair Golf Club (tel. 03/487-7076; www.stclairgolf.co.nz) is also popular; greens fees are NZ$55 per person.
Otago Harbour is the perfect playground for sea kayakers. You can explore the spectacular sea cliffs teeming with wildlife, or turn your hand to a surf landing on an isolated beach. Contact Wild Earth Adventures for the best outings.
Head for St. Clair and St. Kilda beaches on The Esplanade. This is the center of Dunedin’s surfer activity.
If the ocean seems too daunting, head for Moana Pool, 60 Littlebourne Road and Stuart Street (tel. 03/471-9780). It has a terrific leisure pool, lap pool, and diving pool, and the water slides are fully enclosed tubes; you can opt for a slow or fast descent. Other watery options include scuba instruction, aqua-fitness classes, underwater hockey, and water polo. Or laze around in the cafe while the kids run wild in the play area. Admission is NZ$5 adults and NZ$3 children for a casual swim. There are discount cards for multiple swims and there is a gym onsite.
Salt, Sea & Surf
St. Clair Hot Salt Water Pool, at St. Clair Beach (tel. 03/471-9780), is a 25m (80-ft.) outdoor pool right beside the ocean and, if your bones are aching from too much walking, a soak in the therapeutic waters will do you a world of good. The pool’s seawater is heated to a pleasing 82°F (28°C) and you can hear waves crashing on the nearby shore. It’s open from late October through March Monday through Friday from 6am until 7pm, weekends 7am to 7pm. Admission is NZ$6 for adults, NZ$3 for children 5 to 15, and NZ$12 for a family. Ask about their pool parties, which include fun activities, games, and a barbecue.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.