Pineapple Track, Dunedin

Yesterday we decided to walk the Pineapple trail to Flagstaff Summit. This was a beautiful trek which consisted of a big up, a big down, and a whole lotta’ bush. We picked this trail mainly due to its name, but also because we were in need of an uplift by the spectacular Dunedin skyline.

The trail leads up about 660 meters to Flagstaff summit, where the track got its name. In the 1920s a local grocer had acted as a guide and had given out tinned pineapple as refreshment at the top. Flagstaff, along with Mount Cargill, makes up the majority of the Dunedin city Skyline, and offers a perfect view of the city.

As we set off up the trail, we were quickly engrossed by the native bush. We soon felt like Cook himself as we traversed through and searched on like a couple of keen explorers. My girlfriend had noted that it reminded her of the film Fern Gully. As someone who has not seen this, maybe someone who has seen it can confirm from the picture below. However, it looks like I will probably be watching it against my will soon anyway.

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After about 40 minutes of trekking you will reach the end of the bush, and come out into the openness of the Flagstaff hillside. As you gradually climb to the summit the view of the city will become more and more amazing. We noticed that when the sunlight touched the houses they all seemed to turn white and combine together to make Dunedin look like one giant stone. You can maybe get the idea from the pictures we had taken.

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The further you go up you will notice the odd large stone which can offer even better views of the city. However, to reach these you will need to stray from the path and walk through the knee-high (for me)/ waist high (for my girlfriend) bush. While wholly worth it at the start, we may have got slightly lost on the way back, and we may have joined the path from a completely different point. The problem with this was that the same woman passed us three times. It was like de-javu. I wasn’t sure whether we’d gone the wrong way, she’d just decided to turn around and we’d coincidentally ran into her a few times, or she was a bush witch. Personally, the latter explanation makes the most sense. If anyone else sees a lady with rad sunglasses and a pale blue T-shirt multiple times, you’ve probably just ran into the bush witch.

The top of the summit is by far the best part of the trail. The views there are tremendous. I have never been at a point where you can see such a contrast of environment all at once. At one side you have the city and the harbour, then you have Mount Cargill and the native bush, and behind those you have some snow-topped mountains. Most of all, though, there are these incredible green hills that look very much like the Shire. As a LOTR fan this was a nice bonus. But it didn’t just remind me of the Shire, it reminded me of home. Of Yorkshire. I’ve heard a lot of people describe New Zealand as Yorkshire on steroids, but it was not until that moment that I really believed it. The rolling green hills are strikingly similar here, if not simply on a much more grand scale.

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The steep decline down the track was probably harder on my legs than the way up, but it was all well worth it.Furthermore, we found running through the bush, both up and down, to be extremely enjoyable, and we have already noted our desire to go back for a jog there.

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For anyone that enjoys a good hike, an exploration, and incredible views to top it off, I would advise to walk this trail.With a distance time of around 2 and a half hours, it would make for a great morning or afternoon adventure, and you may even encounter the fabled bush witch.

Scenery: 5/5

Walking Difficulty: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

 

 

 

 

Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula

Another beach review coming at you here. This one was a particular favourite of me and the girlfriend, and we’ve been here twice (so far). Sandfly Bay offers everything you could possibly want in a beach: views, excitement, dunes, wildlife, and, if you’re into it, a pretty difficult walk back to your car.

Around 15km outside of Dunedin, up the glorious Otago Peninsula, you will find Sandfly Bay. Now, don’t let the name alarm you. The bay is not known for the irritating sandfly, that causes such distress in the summer months for Kiwi’s, it is actually called such because of the way the sand moves among the dunes. The sand does indeed dance majestically among the desert slopes, and I can confirm it is a must see.

Walking to the beach is pretty steep, but once you get onto the sand further down this becomes very fun. The more agile among you will have a great laugh skidding down here. The last time we came we brought my girlfriends parents, though, and it was more difficult than amusing for them. (I won’t mention the way back up just yet, we were very nearly in trouble though). On your way down there is a lookout where you get an excellent lookout of the bay, and a chance for a great picture.

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Once you get to the beach it is likely you will then come across a multitude, and I do mean multitude, of Sea Lions. The first time we came to this beach we could not believe it. They were HUGE. All along the bay. Coming in. Coming out. Sleeping. Playing. There were more the first time we came but still plenty to observe the second time. I really would advise to go no closer than 20 meters when they are awake, as they are territorial, and a healthy dose of respect seems to go a long way with them.

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The Sea Lions make for an exhilarating experience, but the rest of the beach would still be worth the trip without them. The soft sand and picturesque views make for a great picnic spot, and a few beers to drink in the specialness of the place. The beach is fairly long, but the addition of the dunes along the back of the beach make it a full afternoon trip. We have yet to fully explore the dunes, as we had a rather terrifying experience where a sleeping Sea Lion that was hidden away jumped out at us as we approached. However, if you are cautious as you walk there will be no issues. The real gem of this beach would be the huge dune you can see to your left from the lookout mentioned earlier. There you could do some sand surfing. We haven’t had the foresight to bring a sledge or ski’s yet, but I would advise this is a must and something that you would not be able to do anywhere else in the area. Furthermore, at the end of the beach there is meant to be an underground lookout bunker to view the wildlife. However, we have not seen this either of the times we visited the bay. If anyone spots it, give me a message!

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As mentioned earlier, the only bad note I can leave for the bay is the walk back to the car. A case of what steeply comes down, must come up. It would be fair to say the girlfriend’s parents were slightly annoyed by the effort needed to get up the sandy hill, but we all made it up fine in the end (I think). The first time we came my friend decided to run up it, and being the foolish boy I am I decided to join him… for about 20 seconds. Never again.

All in all I must say that this beach is a fantastic chance to experience New Zealand. You will struggle to find a beach that has both excellent dunes and so many Sea Lions. It really brings you face to face with nature, and it is exhilarating (if not a bit terrifying).

Scenery: 3/5

Walking Difficulty: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

Situated just south of St Claire, Dunedin, this beach is a must for anyone in the area. Tucked neatly away among the cliffs, it offers a picturesque, secret paradise, unlike any New Zealand beach I’ve seen before.

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The beach secured notability in the 1870s after John Cargill, a local politician, had a tunnel commissioned under the cliffs in order for his family to have access to the secluded beach. A trail track was opened on the site in 1983, and has since become a popular destination among locals and tourists.

The trail down to the cliffs from the car park offers some spectacular sea views as seen in the image below. The underfoot conditions could be better on this route, as it was found to be fairly slippy. Once you have reached the cliffs there are some benches for a spot of lunch or some comfortable viewing, and from there you can either go left to the beach through the tunnel, or climb to the cliff edge further right.

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We chose the tunnel route, and descended into the neatly chiselled cavern. As we came through the end threshold, we surprisingly encountered a small(ish) sea lion.  Both of us were perplexed at how, and why, the little rascal chose this spot, as it would have had to climb some uncomfortable boulders, but we left the lion of the sea to it, and searched on.

Turning right, you are then brought face to face with the open ocean and the stunning beach. It’s main features include mossy boulders, smoothed rocks, waterfalls and mussels. If you are a handy climber, or just a child at heart like myself, this beach is ripe with rocks to ascend, which give much better picture opportunities. A word of caution, though, as they are slippery. Following the beach to the right will bring you to another waterfall, depending on the amount of rain that has fallen. Going to the left you will see a small underpass which you can crawl through, and brings you to a large open cave. You can also access this by following the beach round, alas, we did not know this, and got some rather muddy knees.

Going back to the cliffs you will come across some awe inspiring views of the sea, and of the beach you had just been exploring. Ascending the cliff can be dangerous, as we both simultaneously slipped on the clay-like mud. It seemed very slapstick and certainly gave the locals a hearty laugh at my girlfriends muddy bum. The only blip on wonderful experience would be the steep incline for the walk back up to the car. However, for anyone that walks frequently it would offer no issues.

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Out of all the Dunedin beaches I have explored so far, this has certainly been my favourite, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Just be careful not to slip off and become seal fodder.

Scenery: 4/5

Walking Conditions: 2/5

Walking Difficulty: 3/5

Finding Difficulty: 1/5

Overall Rating: 4/5