Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Sandhills, Cannibals & Sea-Lions

Balclutha, Otago

Submitted by Keith Wright

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 10 ?

Gnarl Factor: 18 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Totally/mostly flat

Dog Friendly


Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +1.1%

Average Downhill Gradient: -1.1%


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Estimated Times to Run







Make your way from the carpark at Newhaven down to the edge of the estuary and follow it out onto Surat Bay, make your way down to the far end of the beach. At the end of the beach hunt around in the sand dunes until you find the marked trail and follow it for 600 metres across to Cannibal Bay. Run as far as you like down that beach, before returning the way you came.

There are great sea views along with a sense of history.
Surat Bay gets its name to the ship Surat, wrecked on the bar, New Years Day 1874.

Both Cannibal and Surat Bays are regular haul out sites for New Zealand sea lions. Sea Lions are large, not scared of people and can move surprisingly fast. Enjoy them, but do give them a wide berth (10-20m) and let them appreciate their quiet enjoyment of the beach.

At low tide follow the beach round to aptly named False Islet and turn onto the track that cuts through the sandhills. Amongst the sand is evidence of a forest buried by wind blown sand as well as moa hunter living areas.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

There's room for around 10 cars at the end of the road.

35 km

30 minutes




The only tricky point is finding the trail to take you across the headland to the second beach. You'll know it when you find it as it is marked and easy to distinguish.


Short-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Cellphone, Map

No drinking water available along this route.


Sea-lions can be territorial or grumpy, they can move fast and are heavy creatures that should be respected and given a reasonable berth.

Trail Legend


Daniel Pettigrew

has completed Sandhills, Cannibals & Sea-Lions once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Awesome trail dodging sea lions, with a particularly large sprightly one at the end.

Richele McKenzie

December 27, 2021

Fun way to see the wildlife

Raewyn Peters

March 17, 2021

If you fancy a beach run short enough to fit in around family time, where you see more sea lions than other people, this is it! If you're planning on parking the family on the beach while you run start at the Cannibal Bay end for a shorter walk between the car and beach. And avoid the couple of hours around high tide, you won't have much space to get round any sea lions.

Maggie Davies

January 28, 2020

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