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Sandhills, Cannibals & Sea-Lions, Otago

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Sandhills, Cannibals & Sea-LionsBeginner

Submitted by Keith Wright

Info Info
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Trail Information







Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Totally/mostly flat



1:20 (Slow)
1:00 (Moderate)
0:40 (Fast)



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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.

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Features of interest

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.

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 10%

Easy Single Track: 90%

Route Data


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  • Access

    From Owaka, turn off Pounawea Road onto Newhaven Road and turn right for the carpark at Newhaven.
    Or if travelling from Balclutha, take the Owaka highwayfor 27.8 km, turn left onto Duttons Road and travel to its end (2.6 km), turn left onto Newhaven road travelling for 3.0km until you see the beach access sign. Drive for around 100 m and find a park.

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

    35 km

    30 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    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.

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