There is nothing between the white sand of St Clair beach and the Antarctic.
Life doesn’t get much better than spending an afternoon sitting at a pavement cafe in this leafy suburb watching people wander along the Esplanade or counting surfers (St Clair’s beach is the most consistent surf break in NZ). On a summer’s day with the waves gently rolling into the beach it’s hard to imagine how cold the winters are this far south in New Zealand, or how the wild the Southern Ocean waves will become. It’s even harder to imagine why the midwinter plunge, which is held at St Clair’s every year, is so popular with Dunedin residents.
There is a shark bell in the middle of St Clair’s Esplanade which, I imagine, is like waving a fistful of red rags to a herd of bulls here in Dunedin – a city of boisterous university students. There’s BIG trouble for those who ring the bell for a laugh and apparently people take it quite seriously. Quite right too, there are occasional shark sightings here and the memory of the young surfer who died in a shark attack off the beach has not been forgotten.
Like many city seaside suburbs, St Clair has always attracted wealthy residents. Their homes perch haphazardly above the beach or sit side by side on wide leafy streets. In a city that exists predominantly to support student life, St Clair seems to be the exception, even though it is only 5kms from the city centre. It’s quiet and elegant and charming. Students who have found accommodation here are probably keeping the secret to themselves.
Categories: New Zealand