Bushy Beach and Cape Wanbrow, Oamaru


The natural coastal vegetation at Bushy Beach Scenic Reserve is the last remaining in the area. Wind-sheared scrub, dominated by hebe, ngaio, mahoe and broadleaf, clings to the cliffs and shelters penguins, and other seabirds, and a variety of insects.

A unique flora and fauna exists here, because a number of native plants and insects are at either their southern or northern geographical limit.  

The oldest known fossil remains of a tuatara in New Zealand were found here on this geologically fascinating headland.


Bushy Beach from viewing platform. Photo: Catherine Warren.
Bushy Beach from viewing platform.

Wildlife viewing

Bushy Beach Track overlooks the coastal scrub habitat of yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho, little penguin/kororā, sooty shearwater/tītī and shags. From a platform you can see New Zealand fur seals/kekeno on the rocks below. Carry on further to the hide to get the best viewing of penguins.

New Zealand sea lions and elephant seals are occassional visitors to this beach.

To avoid disturbing the penguins, keep off the beach at all times from November to March. Adult penguins return to feed their young at any time of the day.

You may access the beach between 9am and 3pm. Penguins cross the beach before 9am and after 3pm.


Cape Wanbrow is a mix of volcanic and sedimentary rock features that are internationally significant. Pillow lava surge deposits and volcaniclastic sediments and breccias form steep cliffs with rocky platforms below.


Near Oamaru, a coastal town located 427 km south of Christchurch, and 117 km north of Dunedin.

Getting there

Turn off State Highway 1 at the historic city centre of Oamaru. Follow Tyne Street south up to South Hill. Near the top of the hill turn right onto Bushy Beach Road and follow to the end.


Bird and wildlife watching Bird and wildlife watching

Tracks and walks

Bushy Beach Track is 340 metres long and takes 5-10 minutes to walk to the viewing hide. The track is wheelchair accessible. The track zig-zags across the top of the cliff on the south side of Cape Wanbrow, but the tip of the cape is not accessible. 

Places to stay

There is no on-site accommodation and camping is not permitted. A range of accommodation is available in Oamaru.  

Plan and prepare


Find out more


Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for Otago places


Ōtepoti / Dunedin Office
Phone:      +64 3 477 0677
Email:   dunedinvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details