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Tomahawk Beach

Tomahawk Beach is a popular summer location and although there is no Surf Life Saving Club there are two (St Clair and St Kilda) very nearby. The beach is still very close to Dunedin and people come here to avoid the crowds that are present at St Kilda and St Clair. The beach is high in wave energy and will usually have some kind of wave present.

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Family friendly

This beach has limited facilities and may not be ideal for families. Not patrolled by Surf Lifeguards.


Tomahawk Beach is a popular swimming location during the summer months. The beach gets a lot of powerful swell and needs to be treated with caution by beach users. There are strong rips at each of the headlands and a third rip will usually be present around the middle of the beach. The beach slopes steeply into the ocean at the high tide mark but flattens out towards the low tide mark. Rips and holes are common at Tomahawk and swimmers need to be careful in their choice of swimming location. The beach has no Lifeguarding service.


Surfing is quite popular at Tomahawk although it is not as good as St Clair. The beach is very exposed to swell and can have good bars. Tomahawk can be surfed on all tides and surfers will usually go here in smaller swells.


Fishing is not that popular. Surf casters will fish from the western end of the beach near Lawyers Head and the stream mouth.

Activities and facilities


  • Dog walking
  • Horse riding
  • Motorbikes/4WD's


  • Car parking
  • Playground


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



Unpatrolled Beach
Unpatrolled beach.
Never swim or surf alone.

Forecast provided by SwellMap.com

Mainly fine with possible showers
Max Temp.
Water Temp.

Water Conditions

For boating and surfing
Average. 5/10
Good. 9/10



Safety at Tomahawk Beach

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

Unpatrolled Beach

Unpatrolled Beach
Unpatrolled beach.
Never swim or surf alone.


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 Tomahawk 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


Tomahawk Beach is located six kilometres drive from central city Dunedin. It is made up of a fine white sand and is 1000 metres in length. It stretches from Lawyers Head in the west to the gun emplacements at the eastern end. There are two large lagoons behind the beach and a stream runs from these over the western end. There is a playground located at the eastern end and the whole beach is backed by large headlands. The beach is high in wave energy and faces towards Otago’s dominant southerly swells.


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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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