Blueskin Bay - Waitati and Warrington
Blueskin Bay is the large estuary which sits beside State Highway 1 just 19 kilometres north of Dunedin. The village of Waitati is nestled against the hills on its southern shore, while Warrington to the north is a popular spot in summer with its safe swimming beach, holiday houses, freedom camping site in the domain, and leisurely walk to the mouth of the estuary. Head north on Coast Road from Warrington to Karitane for stunning views of the sea and countryside. Doctors Point is a great place for a picnic and a walk and possibly some trainspotting on the railway line which clings to the cliffs above the beach.
Departing in the afternoon, The Seasider runs between Dunedin and Waitati with spectacular views of the Pacific Coast, including Otago Harbour and Peninsula, Port Chalmers and Blueskin Bay. The return 3 ½ hour trip includes a 2-hour stop at Waitati to explore the nearby attractions including Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Doctors Point Blueskin Nurseries or Arc Brewery.
Ex-train transfers with Head First Travel: For passengers aboard The Seasider wanting to explore the wider area during the stopover, Head First Travel is offering return transfers to attractions in the Blueskin Bay area, including Arc Brewery, Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Doctors Point and Warrington Beach.
Just 20 minutes north of Dunedin, Orokonui Ecosanctuary is a conservation success story. Sitting at the top of the hill above Waitati on Blueskin Rd, this 307 hectare piece of regenerating forest enclosed by over 8 kilometres of pest-proof fencing was established in 2007. Since then most of the pests such as possums, rats, stoats, cats and mice have been eradicated, allowing the forest to regenerate and native birds to flourish. Kiwi, takahe, saddlebacks and kaka have been re-introduced, and many other native birds such as kereru and tui are in abundance. Tuatara and large Otago skinks can be viewed in enclosures, and the award winning visitor centre, a model of sustainable design, contains a café, a shop, and comfortable places to relax and take in the view. Both guided and self-guided tours are available, there is bird feeding to watch, and holiday activities for children.
This picturesque and peaceful walk was follows the edge of the Orokonui Lagoon. This saltmarsh features a flax swamp, grasslands and regenerating lowland forest and is an easy 1 hour return route.
Harvey Street Merchants is a boutique delicatessen offering a delicious array of artisanal foods, fresh produce and flowers from Otago and New Zealand. Ideal for impromptu picnic supplies; pick up freshly-baked breads, cheeses, meats, ice creams and other treats to enjoy during a day in the bay.
This locally owned and operated garden centre is a gardener’s delight with a wide range of plants of every description including many native New Zealand species. The tranquil café is nestled among the plants and flowers with a sunny courtyard perfect for relaxed dining. Local favourites include the Gardener’s Big Breakfast but kids can't go past the legendary hot chips, which some say are the best around.
This funky fully-licensed gallery and cafe space showcases a range of contemporary art, ceramics, jewellery & sculpture. With lovely indoor and outdoor seating, the cafe has a small but excellent menu, offering lunch, afternoon tea and dinner with daily specials. Weekends often bring live music performances on the sheltered lawns to the rear of the gallery. It's an idyllic spot to enjoy an hour or so during a stopover on The Seasider train excursion from Dunedin.
A destination brewery has set up shop in the shimmering surrounds of Blueskin Bay, just 18 minutes north of Dunedin. A popular spot with the locals, Arc is the latest addition to the blossoming craft beer scene in the city with ultra-fresh brews that sell out on a daily basis. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the brewery is an awesome spot for a relaxed bevvy accompanied by
food truck fare of the day.
Evansdale Glen is a picnic area with several swimming holes and a big playing field. There are two notable features, the Evansdale Waterfall and the Careys Creek walking track. To reach Evansdale Glen drive north from Dunedin for 28km, drive through Evansdale village, and 200 metres uphill on the highway you will see a small road heading down towards your left. At the bottom of the road is a creek you can drive across carefully (or walk across the bridge).
If you want to see the waterfall there is a trail, often muddy, on the other side of the walking bridge. Walk for around 15 minutes and you will see the waterfall.
Those with sturdy walking shoes will enjoy the Careys Creek Track, which follows the old farm track to the foot of Rongomai Ridge. If you feel adventurous (and have warm and waterproof clothing, food and water, and you’ve let someone know where you are going.) you can continue on the track, which becomes quite rough and narrow. It makes its way up to the creek's source and finally ending at Semple Road in the Silver Peaks.