Won­der­ful Walk

The splen­dour of na­ture is at its most spec­tac­u­lar at Tun­nel Beach, where wild waves col­lide with tow­er­ing sand­stone cliffs and a cap­ti­vat­ing his­tory.

Good - - CONTENTS - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy Carolyn Ent­ing

Tun­nel Beach, Dunedin

Avisit to Dunedin’s Tun­nel Beach is guar­an­teed to spark your sense of ad­ven­ture – and imag­i­na­tion. Ev­ery time I come here I feel as though I’ve stepped into the pages of an Enid Bly­ton mys­tery or the Cor­nish set­ting of Daphne Du Mau­rier’s Ja­maica Inn.

The hand-carved tun­nel cut into the 60 me­tre-high cliff that leads you down to a wild, boulder-strewn beach is the type of se­cret pas­sage of­ten writ­ten about by Bly­ton. And stand­ing atop the penin­sula as the ocean sweeps around it is awe-in­spir­ingly beau­ti­ful and spine-tin­glingly thrilling. Yes, this is Cen­tral Otago, not the Cor­nish cliffs of Eng­land, but the windswept and wave-beaten dra­matic land­scape holds a sense of mys­tery.

Tun­nel Beach is easy to get to, though the path there and back is quite steep. Ac­cess is via a track across pri­vate farm­land, and it's open year round (ex­cept in lamb­ing sea­son from Au­gust to Oc­to­ber). The start of the track be­gins at a carpark on Tun­nel Beach Road, sign­posted off Black­head Rd, 7.5km south­west of Dunedin.

The first thing that comes into view is the span­ner-shaped rocky promon­tory and mag­nif­i­cent sand­stone sea arch. You can walk upon the promon­tory and look down at Tun­nel Beach, out to the South­ern Ocean and along the rugged coast­line.

Then step back in time through the rocky pas­sage that leads to the beach it­self, ex­ca­vated in the 1870s by lo­cal politi­cian John Cargill, son of Cap­tain Wil­liam Cargill. It was the pri­vate beach for the Cargill fam­i­lies. Lo­cal leg­end tells of the tragic drown­ing here of John Cargill’s youngest daugh­ter (though his­to­ri­ans have found no ev­i­dence). Sev­eral kilo­me­tres away his brother Ed­ward Cargill built a cas­tle, The Cliffs (now known as Cargill’s Cas­tle). Today it lies in ru­ins and is closed to the pub­lic, though one day the Cargill’s Cas­tle Trust hopes to re­open it, along with a walk­way that would con­nect it to Tun­nel Beach.

The best time to visit Tun­nel Beach is at low tide. This al­lows you to ex­plore the beach, look for fos­sils in the rocks, and marvel at the weath­ered sand­stone cliff that rises ma­jes­ti­cally like a sen­tinel. If you look hard enough, you’ll see a face in the rock. g Tun­nel Beach Dis­tance 2km re­turn via the same track Walk time 1 hour re­turn (20 min­utes each way, but al­low time for ex­plor­ing)

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