Getting out and pushing play is a great way to make lockdown life move along a little faster, and with so many beautiful tracks and trails in our backyard it sure is getting harder to come up with excuses. Dunedin has a wealth of walking and running tracks right at your feet, and whilst they're currently closed to mountain bikers, you can tackle them with however your legs see fit. If these tracks are local to you, take them in stride. If in doubt, stay home. Oma, rāpeti!
Dunedin Botanic Gardens
Handily located in Dunedin’s north end, the serene reaches of the Dunedin Botanic Gardens feature multiple trails that weave through towering trees, hidden dells and ornate flower beds. Novice joggers will be happy doing laps of the flatter lower gardens, and those keen on more of a challenge can take on steeper inclines. Making your way to the upper gardens, there’s a bonus stop at the aviary. Take out those headphones and listen to the top 40 chart toppers of our native birds.
Otago Harbour path
Get a bit footloose and a little space from your bubble alongside the shimmering waters of the Otago Harbour. With pedestrians sharing the path with the cycleway, tackle the west harbour from the Water of Leith to St Leonards for a healthy 11.8km return journey, taking in the comings and goings of the various seabirds and other marine wildlife who have been self-isolators since forever.
Something of a secret Shangri-la tucked away up the Leith Valley, Ross Creek gully is spotted with picturesque bush tracks and plenty of variety to mix up your pace. Head up to the Instagram-worthy Ross Creek reservoir to catch the artwork brightening the dam or hunt out the waterfalls en-route. Start and end your mission with a leisurely trot through the Woodhaugh Gardens on George Street and stretch it out on the lawns.
St Clair Beach And St Kilda Beach
This city-side, white-sand beach has gorgeous views out over the endless Pacific and is one of Dunedin’s best walking or running experiences. Nail the 7km return from St Clair Esplanade to the end of St Kilda on your own, or take your dog out and about for a much needed gallop. Fresh air and a restored equilibrium guaranteed.
The Town Belt
Dunedin’s green reserve runs through the heart of most inner-city hill suburbs. An oasis of lush calm, it’s definitely the perfect spot for a little stress-relief leg stretching. Plenty of connecting trails offer sweeping views as they wind through bush, fields and neighbourhoods of heritage homes.
A peaceful, yet challenging trail that steadily climbs up all the way to Mt Cargill. One for the hill-running enthusiasts, your legs will get good gradient training as you ascend to the top, where your reward is taking in the most crisp, freshest air and amazing 360-degree views.
Flagstaff Loop and Pineapple Track
Pick a fine day and get going on this awesome skyline trail, overlooking the entire city and beyond. Run up to the summit marker and back or go epic and truck on to the Pineapple Track which winds its way back down into the upper reaches of the city.
The Big Easy
Very popular as a walking, running and cycling trail, zig-zagging up above the North Dunedin University campus and suburbs. Choose to tackle the 3.2 kilometres to the ‘Plateau’ or stretch your legs over 6kms to the impressive Signal Hill lookout for the obligatory hilltop selfie against the vista of Otago Harbour, the Pacific Ocean and greater Dunedin.
You can also find more excellent tracks on the council website right here.
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Image credit: Ross Creek and St Clair Beach by Dunedin NZ, Flagstaff Loop and Pineapple Track by the Department of Conservation (DOC)