Brighton Beach, Dunedin

Okay, I’ll admit that this isn’t as much a beach review as it is advice on how to spend a jolly good Saturday morning. We just happened to choose Brighton Beach which turned out to be an excellent setting.

We started our day early by going to the bustling Dunedin Farmers Market. This is a place we’ve frequented regularly on our Saturday mornings, as it is a great chance to pick up some regional fruit, veg, and what we love most, cheese & bread. We decided on a loaf of Focaccia, and four different segments of cheeses. The market sells fantastic products, and there are usually a few guitar, violin, or piano players around, which adds to the vibrant atmosphere.

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Once we had made our purchases we wandered home to pick up supplies and set off to Brighton Beach, which lies about 20 kilometres south west of Dunedin.¬†The beach is long, but doesn’t have as many of the cool features I have come across at other New Zealand beaches. That should not deter you though, as it makes for a great walk, run or picnic. It is a fairly popular destination, but in typical New Zealand fashion it was pretty deserted barring a few families, and so we set up our extravagant picnic in the perfect isolated spot. The views were wonderful, and the whole scene made for a relaxing lunch. All we needed was a bottle of Speight’s Golden Ale to bring it all together, but we settled for a nice cup of tea instead. We’ve become exceedingly British in the fact that we take a flask with tea in everywhere we go now. We probably keep it over water on most trips. On this occasion we took our cups with us while we went for a paddle. Not noticing the tide coming in rapidly we turned to find it was upon us and a large wave showered us. You’ll be pleased to hear our cups of tea made it out alive, much to our relief. Take our clothes but never take our tea.

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Our Saturday morning was well spent at a great beach and with great food. While I would encourage you to check out Brighton Beach, the more important message would be to get out and enjoy yourself outside. It’s been a long time since I’d had a picnic and if you are the same, get to the market, get your tupperware out and head to the beach. This is probably easier done than said for those in New Zealand, but everyone should do it. I may be preaching to the choir here with travel bloggers, but it’s called the great outdoors for a reason, right?

 

 

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Allan’s Beach, Otago Peninsula

Another of the Otago Peninsula’s gems is Allan’s Beach. As one of the four beaches that runs along the Pacific Coast of the Peninsula, it is must for anyone in the area. The other beaches include: Boulder Beach and Victory Beach (which I have yet to visit), and Sandfly Bay. We found that Allan’s Beach had a lot to offer, and was bountiful in scenery, rocks to climb, and even the night’s dinner!

Despite some arduous research, I was unable to identify why the beach is possessively “Allan’s.” If anyone knows why it is called this I would very much appreciate it if you could send a message my way. In typical Kiwi fashion I do reckon that it is as simple as a man named Allan used to walk along the beach. One of the best I’ve heard was for Wingatui. According to a local, the village is called such because an English settler was out hunting and he shot a Tui (a New Zealand bird) in the wing. Hence, Wingatui.

From Dunedin centre, Allan’s Beach is across the Otago Peninsula, and a short distance from the town of Portobello. If you travel this way I would advise to do one route there, and a different one back. You cannot experience the magnificence of the Otago Peninsula without driving along the harbour, and then along the hillside. Both offer spectacular views. The picture below is taken from the hillside.

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Once you arrive at the car park it is a short walk over a hill to the beach. We have now been to Allan’s Beach twice, and both times it gave us a completely different experience. This can be put as simply as whether you go left or right from the entrance to the beach. We will start by going right. Walking this way you will see some of the magnificent cliffs that make up the Otago Peninsula. I found the one on Allan’s Beach particularly interesting as it looked to me like a giant lizard. Maybe you can get the idea from the picture below. Following the beach along you will come to a stream that feeds into the ocean, and behind that you can see more of the Peninsula’s great hills. However, our second trip to Allan’s Beach was by far the more enjoyable. And thus we turn left.

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Following the beach to the left you will come across excellent rocks to climb. If you are into that kind of thing, these are the best I have seen on a beach. There are plenty to conquer and plenty of footholes.

The rocks are pretty good, but the best thing about this beach was the mussels. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Big. Small. All there waiting to be taken. It was an excellent surprise¬†as we had been to this beach before and not had the time to explore it to the left. What fools we were! Luckily, my girlfriend’s mother had brought a large, clear, plastic sandwich bag with her (the magic of mum’s eh?) and so we got plucking. After about 15 minutes we had gathered around 40 large mussels, and now had food for dinner that night. They were delicious, and we will certainly be travelling back there to snap up another free meal.

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This beach was a terrific experience all in all. We enjoyed ourselves the first time, and when we came back for more we were far from disappointed. And to think this beach is supposed to be known as a Sealion and Penguin hot-spot. If we’d have seen some I think we’d have moved there by now.

Scenery: 3/5

(I’ve had to make a new category) Did it offer free food? Yes.

Overall: 5/5