Tunnel Beach

Hello, everyone!

I hope you all are doing well. I’ve been sick for the last few days, which is why this post is so late, but I only missed a couple hours of class and I’m feeling better now. This week was the second week of classes, and my flatmates and I are still adjusting to the change. It’s been a big shift from having over two months of break, with tons of freedom and the ability to take trips around the Dunedin area whenever we wanted, to being stuck in classrooms all day and having sports and cubs taking up our free time. We’re all making a point to do fun stuff and take lots of day trips on the weekends to tide us over through the week.

Last weekend I went to Tunnel Beach with my flatmates Caty and Zach, and Caty’s friends Sarah and Kyra. It took us a little over an hour to get there, taking two buses (missing our first bus, taking a different line and then having to run to catch our connection) and walking a half-hour from the bus stop to the beach trailhead. This part of Dunedin is very rural, and we passed lots of farms and sheep on the way.

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Once we got to the trailhead, on top of a huge grassy hill, it was a steep twenty-minute walk down to the beach. The path was sheer and slippery, but afforded some amazing views of the ocean, rocky cliffs and islands, and the beach below.

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Once we got down the cliff, we eagerly explored the rocky bridges and cliffs above gorgeous views of turquoise waters, crashing waves, and roiling masses of black seaweed.

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And, of course, we couldn’t go to  Tunnel Beach without visiting the famous structure that gives it its name. In 1870, local politician John Cargill (son of famous Captain William Cargill, who helped found the Otago settlement) carved a tunnel from the cliff-top down to a private sandy cove for his family vacations. Now, it is a great place to go swimming, dip your toes in the water, or sit and read awhile atop one of the huge boulders on the beach.

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Standing on a boulder, Sarah (left; Caty’s friend), Anna (middle; a nice Italian woman we met on the beach) and Caty (right) look out over the water.
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Zach braves the cold waters to dip his feet in the waves.

After exploring for an hour or so we sat at the top of the cliff, looking down into the sandy cove, reading, talking, and eating snacks. The sun was warm on our backs and the refreshing ocean breeze blew into our faces. Seagulls clustered around us, hopping around, biting at each other, and keeping a sharp eye on our food.

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A note on the seagulls: they can be found all over the Dunedin area and look like regular seagulls, except with black and white-tipped tails and bright orange beaks and feet, but they make the strangest sounds. When aggravated they stretch their necks out, point their beaks at the ground, and scream. There’s really no other word for it, a screeching shriek that’s surprisingly loud for such a small animal. It looks hilarious too- every time I see them do it I start laughing. I call them scream gulls, or scree-gulls for short.

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I had so much fun at Tunnel Beach. The day started out cloudy but got sunny in the afternoon, bringing out the vibrant blues and turquoises of the water. I fell in love with the rocky cliffs, smooth boulders, and sandy cove, all so breathtakingly beautiful that these pictures really don’t do it justice. It is in the top five most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and though I was tired, sunburnt, and hungry at the end, I was reluctant to depart. With luck, I’ll be able to go back before I leave New Zealand.

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Until next time,

Rachael

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