Wind and Waterfalls at Tunnel Beach
Dunedin might be a city but it is surrounded by some amazing forces of nature. Already, we have seen Dunedin’s wild side on a tour of the Otago Peninsula spotting yellow-eyed penguins, sea lions and more, taking a boat along the harbour and out to sea to watch rare seabirds, and only last night we were at the Royal Albatross Centre having a close encounter with the world’s largest seabirds and the world’s smallest penguins. Today, we are going to see a Dunedin natural wonder carved by the ocean, Tunnel Beach!
Low tide excursions
The best time to visit Tunnel Beach, so that you can actually walk down onto the beach without getting your feet wet, is at low tide. It’s at 1.30pm today, so we have heaps of time to cruise down to Tunnel Beach! Because bus prices are cheap and we’ll do anything not to drive this campervan up and down the steep streets of Dunedin (Dunedin literally home to the world’s steepest street), we decide to take a city bus. What’s more, we’re joined by the lovely Anya from Germany, who we met in Hogwartz Backpackers.
Zip up your rain jacket!
On the down side, it’s not exactly “beach weather”. We swear, it has not stopped raining since we arrived in Dunedin… Nevertheless, we have squeezed out enough rainy day activities in Dunedin, with the Otago Museum, Dunedin Railways and Cadbury World. We will not let the rain stop us!
Rain jackets zipped up tight and rain covers over our backpacks, we march out into the streets of Dunedin, take the 33A bus, and arrive on the edge of the suburbs beside Tunnel Beach.
Not exactly the most beautiful walk to a walk in New Zealand…
We admit, the 15-minute walk along the roadside to the entrance of the Tunnel Beach Track is not the most stunning we have been on in New Zealand… It’s raining so much that we witness a car spin out of control on a corner about 200 metres ahead of us. (This driver clearly needed to read 12 Safe Driving Tips for New Zealand). From then on, we make sure we walk as far off the road as we can…
Thanks to the road signs and the directions given by our bus driver, we make it to the Tunnel Beach Track! Now it is a fairly steep and slippery track all the way to the headlands below. (We are so not looking forward to climbing back up here…)
Watching nature at work!
Waterfalls, arches and nature’s elements!
We are only walking five minutes when we see the first glimpses of the dramatic creamy white coastal cliffs below! Along with the rain, the wind is helping the waves crash into the cliffs. No wonder there are tunnels carved into the cliff faces!
The further downhill we march, the more the scenery reveals more aspects of the coastal cliffs until we arrive right on top of them! Down one side of this protruding headland, we can see two waterfalls gushing onto the beach below. On the other side, we see a huge arch being carved by the waves as we speak! From every angle on top of this headland we are capturing more and more views of this magnificent beach. But how the hell do we get down there?
We almost walk right past it – the tunnel that gives this beach its name! We’d love to say this is also a tunnel carved by the ocean, but it is clearly man-made for tourists like us to explore the beach below. The tunnel is only big enough to walk single-file and even Laura and Anya can barely walk upright.
Rock climbing, caves and the tide
Emerging just beside the base of one of the waterfalls, we hobble down some rocks onto the sandy beach. Huge pieces of the headland have fallen onto the beach, dwarfing us as we walk beside them. Footholds in these huge rocks showing how easily eroded this sandstone is, invites us for a bit of a climb! While Laura is climbing rocks and Anya is staying at the entrance of the tunnel to watch the tide creep up on unsuspecting tourists (admittedly, like us), Robin is finding small caves all over Tunnel Beach!
Between waterfalls, caves, tunnels and stunning coastline views, there’s far more to this beach than we realised! Although the forces of nature have carved this amazing scene, it’s about to get us drenched, so we head back to the bus stop, climbing that steep and slippery hill!
A useless bus shelter…
Despite having the luxury of a bus shelter to wait in, the wind is blowing the rain (and even hail at one point) into the bus shelter! The only place to hide is around the back of the bus shelter, but then who is going to signal the bus?!
When the bus pulls up, the driver just looks us up and down: “Been to Tunnel Beach, have you?”
Back to the wizarding world
Back at Hogwartz, we have a warm shower and hang out in the sociable dining area. (Or should we say “The Great Hall”?)
To mark our last day in Dunedin, a place where we have ended up staying two days more than originally planned, we are going to tour the city, see some of the sights we’ve missed, and pop into the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Join us then!
Amazing Coastal views in all directions!
Amazing Coastal views in all directions!
Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
Amazing Coastal views in all directions! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
This pleases us greatly! Have a look at these articles:
- 12 Free or Cheap Things to do in Dunedin
- Dunedin – Guide For Backpackers
- 22 Stunning Beaches in New Zealand
See you tomorrow!