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St Clair Beach

St Clair is located very close to central city Dunedin and also has a large residential base. Surfers are the main users at the beach and they use it year round on most days. The Surf Club is located 500 metres from the western headland and this is where the concentration of swimmers are located during the summer months. St Clair is a very popular beach with many regular users.

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Family friendly

This beach is well suited for families, make sure your family is prepared for the beach conditions, the beach is patrolled by Surf Lifeguards during the summer months.


The beach is a popular swimming location during summer. St Clair is close to town and has facilities such as shops, showers, changing sheds, shelters and a picnic area. The beach has rips and holes which can be powerful. A strong rip generally runs out along the western headland. The beach often gets large swells, and waves will pound against the seawall under such circumstances. The beach is home to St Clair Surf Life Saving Club and swimmers should bathe in the patrolled area and ask a lifeguard for advice.


St Clair beach is perhaps Dunedin’s most popular surfing location and this is mainly due to its location. The beach generally has a nice, gentle rideable wave. St Clair is a beach break that is surfable on all tides but is usually better from low to mid tide. The beach faces to the south which is the dominant swell direction. St Clair is offshore in a northerly wind.


The beach is not that popular for fishing although people do surf cast from here.

Activities and facilities


  • Canoeing/kayaking
  • Dog walking
  • Shell fish gathering
  • Wind/kite surfing


  • Car parking
  • Food and beverage kiosk
  • Public toilets


The beach is our favourite playground, but it can also be a dangerous place. Learn about the hazards at St Clair Beach and be prepared so you and your family can enjoy the sun, sea and sand safely this summer.



Patrolled Beach
St Clair Beach is a patrolled beach.
Stay safe - swim beween the flags.

Forecast provided by SwellMap.com

Mainly fine with possible showers
Max Temp.
Water Temp.

Water Conditions

For boating and surfing
Average. 6/10
Average. 4/10


Safety at St Clair Beach

We want you to have a great time whilst visiting St Clair Beach. But take a moment to learn more about being safe on New Zealand Beaches. More ►

Patrolled Beach

Patrolled Beach
St Clair Beach is a patrolled beach.
Stay safe - swim beween the flags.

Patrol Hours

St Clair Beach is patrolled on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays between 16 November 2019 and 8 March 2020. Volunteer lifeguards patrol from 12:00pm to 5:00pm.
A Regional Lifeguard Service is provided Monday to Friday from 11:00am to 7:00pm from 18 December 2019 to 31 January 2020..


Click a safety symbol for more information on the risk

4 simple rules to keep you safe

We want you to have a great time whilst visiting St Clair Beach. But take a moment to learn more about being safe on New Zealand beaches and looking out for each other. More ►

The Water Safety Code:

  • Be prepared
  • Watch out for yourself and others
  • Be aware of the dangers
  • Know your limits
DIAL 111 in the event of an emergency


St Clair Beach is located five kilometres from central city Dunedin (the Octagon). St Clair Surf Life Saving Club is located at the beach around 100 metres northeast of the Esplanade Road that runs past the shops and foreshore. St Clair Beach lies 1600 metres southwest of St Kilda Surf Life Saving Club and lies on the same stretch of beach that extends from the western headland at St Clair for 3.5 kilometres where it reaches Lawyers Head in the east. St Clair Beach is a fine golden sand at its western headland. There is a rocky outcrop that reaches into the surrounding hills. There is a large seawall protecting shops and houses directly behind the beach on Esplanade Road. St Clair is backed by a large residential community with a racecourse and golf course at the beach.


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Beach Water Quality

The Overall Recreation Risk is a guide to give a general picture of water quality at a site. Updated annually, it is calculated from bacteria (enterococci) data collected over the last three years. The Overall Recreation Risk indicator is a precautionary approach to managing health risk and is not designed to represent health risk on a particular day. As such, a site can have an Overall Recreation Risk of ‘Caution’ but still be suitable for swimming some of the time.

Overall recreation risk

The long term risk status based on three years of data

Very Low Risk

Less than 1% risk of illness

Many councils also provide the results of their weekly monitoring. This lets people know what the most recent bacteria levels were. Remember, even sites with low risk can be unsuitable to swim at from time to time and we recommend that you avoid swimming for 48 hours after heavy rainfall.

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