Doctors Point

Doctors Point

Doctors Point is a beach with a number of caverns on the northern coasts of Dunedin. It boasts two large sea caves that you can walk and crouch through to a hidden beach. Both the caves are easily accessible and take very little time to reach from the car park. After only a short walk along through grass and gauze along an unmarked track followed by a stroll along the beach to reach you find discover these caves. There are no signs apart from the road signs labelled Doctor’s Point which finally leads you to Doctor’s Point Reserve. The walk is truly a hidden roadside gem waiting to be discovered in the Dunedin region. The caves at Doctors Point are also known as Taoka’s Arches.


30 mins


25 min from Dunedin


Yellow-eyed penguins, Caves, Beaches



45°43′59″S 170°36′15″E

In Detail

Doctor’s Point can be difficult seem like you are on a dead-end trail to nowhere when you begin walking from the reserve. Rest-assured as you make your way further up the path you should eventually strike a large outcrop of rocks that has a small cavern located at the beginning that you may have to crouch to get through. It does take some walking before you are able to recognise that there is a small hole in the rock that you are walking towards. There aren’t any signs or information boards in the area but if you follow the beach, you should find the caves in the end.

Looking through from the beach after the second cave through to the first cave and its small inlet

Getting There

From Dunedin, take State Highway One towards Oamaru. Follow the road through Leith Valley and down to Waitati. From the small township of Waitati turn right off SH1 onto Harvey Street, left onto Pitt Street, then right again onto Doctor’s Point Road. Just before you reach Doctor’s Point reserve the road turns to gravel and you the beginning of the reserve. Here you should find a grassy car park to park up. An unmarked trail leads in the direction of the cliffs along a well-formed path through some long grass.




The walk to Doctor’s Point Caves takes approximately 10 minutes. It begins with an unmarked track which starts from the car park parallel to the beach. Either side of the trail is lined with shrubs, bushes. There’s only a couple of spots where you can scoot out of the bush and down to the beach. Keep your eyes peeled, for a good point to access the beach from the path.

Top: Walking along the unmarked track towards Doctor’s Point
Bottom: Finding a gap in the bushes to get down onto the beach for a beach stroll to the caves

Once you’re out on the beach you should be able a large rocky outcrop in the distance. Walk in the direction of the cliffs. It’s difficult to see the caves at first but eventually, once you get right up closer they’ll become visible. As the caves are situated right next to the sea, it’s a good idea to check the tides before you head to Doctors Point. The best time to visit the caves is just as the tide is heading out. The sand is hard from the sea lapping up against the sand making the walk to the cave much easier.

Looking towards Doctor’s Point Caves, seen as the darker patch in the rock right from the centre

Doctors Point Cave

Doctor’s Point cave themselves are spectacular. The first cave is the smaller of the two. You have to crouch down to be able to walk through the small hole. Often you’ll find the sand through the caves is really soft from never seeing the sun, it’s quite damp at the same time so you don’t have to ever worry about taking your shoes off as you walk through. The first cave opens onto a sandy inlet separating the two caves where you can walk out and meet the sea. It’s quite a contrast from being a reasonable distance from the sea when you first enter the caves.

Top: Lauren jumping with excitement between the first and second arch
Peeping through the cave at the start of where all the caves begin

The second cave has a larger hole cut-out of the rock that you can almost walk through completely before opening up to a much larger cavern. It’s a pleasant surprise to find yet another beach among the caves. The view from the second is much like the very popular Cathedral Cove up north in the Coromandel Peninsula. The difference is that this one is much quieter and if not more beautiful with no crowds at all.

Top Left: Looking through the caves from the hidden beach back to the first cave
Top Right:
Footprints in the sand leading to a hidden beach around the caves
Nathan (the author) capturing the scenes in the first section of the cave

Doctor’s Point Beach

The beach that you get to through each of the caves is a calm flattish beach with not the same sort of large rolling sand dunes that you might hope for. There are some shrubs and gorse that makes up the landscape closer to the cliffs with some smaller buffers of soft sand before it reaches the sea. On a warm day it would make an ideal small beach to lie out and tan at when the sun was pointing in the right direction.

Top: Nathan (the author) dodging the incoming water
Looking out over the beach and out to a Maori Pa site Mapoutahi in the distance

Doctors Point Tides

Probably one of the best pieces of advice for visiting Doctor’s Point before you check out this place is to look over the tides for Dunedin before heading out if you don’t want to get your feet wet. When we went to Doctor’s Point and checked out the caves it was only 2 hours after high tide. Check the latest tide information on this Tide Forecast website.

Sums up the caves pretty well… all smiles

Further Exploration from Doctors Point

From the caves at low tide according to a local that we met explained to us that you are able to walk right around to a Maori Pa site. The Pa site is marked on the map as Mapoutahi and can be seen from the beach accessed after passing through the second cave. There is a marked track featured on the Department of Conservation website.

1 comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    I ended up walking all the way down Purakaunui Beach and around the inlet, so I was a bit late getting back to the Doctors Point car park. I had to climb over lots of rocks on the way back but it was easy enough. If you re worried about climbing on rocks or getting wet, you could go back after Canoe Beach and then drive around to Purakaunui Beach.