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Tunnel Beach

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Tunnel beach (to the left) from further down the coast.
Tunnel beach (to the left) from further down the coast.
Collage showing the tunnel and the beach.
Collage showing the tunnel and the beach.

Tunnel Beach is a locality 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) southwest of the city centre of Dunedin, New Zealand. Located just south of St Clair, Tunnel Beach has sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves.[1] Beyond the beauty of the rugged sandstone cliffs, its claim to fame is the tunnel down to the beach that a local politician, John Cargill, son of Captain William Cargill, had commissioned for his family in the 1870s.[2] Local legend says that one or more of Cargill's daughters drowned while swimming at the beach, but there is no truth to this story.[3]

The tunnel itself is rough-hewn, and still shows the marks of the hand working which created it. Originally a simple slope, concrete steps were added when it was opened to the public in 1983.

Access to the beach is via the DOC Reserve, and is open year round. The track is a popular walking excursion. It descends from 150 metres (490 ft) above sea level at its start, a short distance off Blackhead Road, winding for some 1200 metres to the top of the tunnel close to a natural sea arch. The tunnel descends 72 steps to the beach, and is dimly naturally lit.[4] Note that the path down is steep and can be very slippery following wet weather.


  1. ^ Dunedin New Zealand, Tunnel Beach New Zealand Tourism Guide
  2. ^ Tunnel Beach (from the New Zealand Department of Conservation website. Retrieved 2007-10-09.)
  3. ^ Isaacs, C. "Tall tales told in (graphic) novel form," Otago Daily Times, 9 November 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  4. ^ Hamel, A. (2007) Dunedin tracks and trails. Dunedin: Silver Peaks Press. ISBN 978-0-473-13772-4. p. 3.05

Coordinates: 45°55′16″S 170°27′31″E / 45.921229°S 170.458556°E / -45.921229; 170.458556

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Tunnel Beach
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