One of our readers Jennie recommended we check out Tunnel Beach on our next visit to Dunedin. One of her and her husband’s favourite spots while they lived in New Zealand, we put it on our ‘to do’ list and with our last minute plan to explore the Catlins it was a perfect time to check it out during our road trip with friends Brent & Kristina.

Tunnel Beach Walkway

A steep decent from the carpark, the trail towards Tunnel Beach provided breathtaking views of the rocky shoreline below. We ran down towards the grassy sea-carved sandstone cliffs, taking in an up-close view of the remarkable rock archway.

Brent & Kristina on top of the world!
Taking in the view

Tunnel Beach’s most famous feature is the hand carved passage way that was created in the 1870’s to provide access to the secluded beach below (hence where it got it’s name). The tunnel descends 72 steps to the beach at the base of the cliffs.

Hand-carved tunnel to the beach below

The beach reminded me a lot of Cathedral Cove and Sting Ray Bay that we visited up in the Coromandel Peninsula with its sea caves and beautiful beach. Luckily the tide was low enough to be able to explore the beach caves, but it was quickly coming in making it a bit of a wet adventure!

Tunnel Beach sea cave
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Beautiful Tunnel Beach

Looking back up at the cliffs you felt dwarfed by their size. The beautiful colors of the moss painted a mural across the cliff faces as they were lit by the afternoon sun.

Admiring the colorful cliffs

On our way back I noticed one of the large boulders on the beach had steps that had been carved out, so Kristina and I went exploring, climbing to the top of the rock to get a better view!

Exploring the beach boulders

Tunnel Beach was an awesome detour along our coastal drive from the Catlins – big thanks to Jennie for recommending it! Feel I could have spent the whole day there if we had the time!