Victory Beach

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Victory Beach from the south
Western side of Little Pyramid
A Hooker's sealion asleep on Victory Beach

Victory Beach is located on the Pacific Ocean coast of the Otago Peninsula, in the South Island of New Zealand, 24 kilometres (15 mi) by road from Dunedin city centre. The longest beach on the peninsula, Victory Beach is located northeast of the entrance to Papanui Inlet and stretches for 3.5 kilometres. It is backed by a series of high sand dunes. The beach's name derives from the wreck of the SS Victory on the beach in 1861. The beach and headlands to the north and south form Wickliffe Bay.

Administered partly by the Otago Peninsula Trust, the beach is a habitat for many rare species, notably yellow-eyed penguins. Other notable birds found in the area include spoonbills, and the beach is located close to the Royal Albatross breeding colony at Taiaroa Head. Both Hooker's sealions and New Zealand fur seals are also found in the area.

Access to the beach is via a narrow metalled road which links to Portobello on the Otago Harbour coast and also, via further narrow roads, with the Highcliff Road which runs along the spine of the peninsula. At the end of the road, a 2 kilometre walking track leads to the beach past two large outcrops of columnar basalt known as The Pyramids. The southern, smaller outcrop is called Little Pyramid, or Te Matai O Kia.[1]

The beach was used as a location for the television movie Out of Ashes, starring Elisabeth Lanz.[2]

Victory wreck[edit]

Flywheel from the SS Victory, in the surf at low tide

The steamship SS Victory departed Port Chalmers bound for Melbourne at 4:30 pm on 3 July 1861, carrying passengers, mail and cargo. It ran aground at the southern end of the beach (45°50′33″S 170°43′56″E / 45.8425°S 170.7321°E / -45.8425; 170.7321[3]) at about 6 pm, seven minutes after chief mate George Hand took charge of the ship. Captain James Toogood ran the engines full astern for around 90 minutes, but the ship was embedded in 6–7 feet of sand, so the passengers and mail were unloaded. Hand was found guilty of being intoxicated and in neglect of duty, and sentenced to serve three months hard labour on 20 July;[4] the court also criticised the captain.[5] On 24 July and the following day the ship's cargo, equipment and hull were auctioned off on the beach, recovering around £1,900 from an estimated value of £25,000.[6]


  1. ^ "Super Sites for Conservation Education – Okia" (PDF). Department of Conservation. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  2. ^ Fox, Rebecca (21 March 2009). "German star keen to help penguins". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  3. ^ "Place Name Detail: Victory". New Zealand Geographic Placenames Database. Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  4. ^ "Chronological Index of the Settlement Of Otago 1840-1898". Otago Witness. 31 March 1898. p. 28. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  5. ^ "The steamer "Victory"". The Wellington Independent. 6 August 1861. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  6. ^ "Sale of the Wreck of the Steam-ship "Victory"". Otago Witness. 27 July 1861. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 


  • Bishop, G. & Hamel, A. (1993). From sea to silver peaks. Dunedin: John McIndoe. ISBN 0-86868-149-0.

Coordinates: 45°49′39″S 170°43′56″E / 45.8275°S 170.7322°E / -45.8275; 170.7322