Mount Cargill, Dunedin

 

Two posts in two days, I’m on a roll! The post will detail our hike up to the summit of Mount Cargill and the detour we did to the Organ Pipes. This has been a walk I’ve wanted to do ever since I moved to Dunedin. From our bedroom window we can see the towering summit of Cargill (granted you have to crane your neck to see it), and it is the biggest component of the Dunedin skyline.

I will start this post by talking about an extraordinary individual named Alfred Hamish Reed. Born in England in 1875, he moved to Dunedin at a young age and worked on gum fields with his family and for some time lived many hardships. When he was a child he injured his knee so severely that he was bed-bound for one year. In his very little spare time he took up the skill of shorthand, and eventually got a job with a typewriter company. In his early 20s he moved to Dunedin to open a branch of the company. From there he established his own publishing company which went on to be hugely successful. He wrote many books about New Zealand and published many religious texts. Due to this, he is regarded as one of the most influential literary figures of New Zealand in the twentieth century. Now, you may be wondering why I am telling you this. Alfred wasn’t just a writer, but he was also an avid walker. Even with all his knee trouble, he still rambled frequently into his ripe old age. At the age of 99, Alfred climbed Mount Cargill. There is meant to be a short track on the Mount dedicated to this remarkable man, but we could not find it.

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Our walk began in Bethune’s Gully which is a great spot near north Dunedin. It has the appearance of a place far from a city centre, and would have been a great place for a BBQ. As you embark on the track you are quickly consumed by the New Zealand Bush. Although there is incline the whole way there, it is a fairly easy going track for the first hour, and the creeks and greenery around you make for a scenic walk. As you start to rise higher all you can see is bush, and much of the track feels like an earthy tunnel. You can see the odd glimpse of the sky, but the summit cannot be seen for most of the walk.

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After an hour you reach the open air and find the steps up to the summit. These can be slippery, but make it much easier to climb than on the mud. Although Mount Cargill is only a mere 676 meters high, it did have the feel of walking on a mountain towards the end.

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Once you reach the top and see the views, I guarantee your jaw will come crashing down to the floor. It. is. incredible. I have seen so many different variations of this scene, and the theory holds true, the higher you go, the better the view. The Peninsula slithers through the land, the hills slalom in-and-out around it, the city sleeps ever-still, and the clouds and land assemble together in a triumphant transition. This is Dunedin’s best view, and one can understand why the aged Alfred Hamish Reed grappled with Cargill to see it.

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On our way back we decided to take the detour to the Organ Pipes. It was a 30 minute walk to the other side of the Mount, and the way down was fairly slippery due to the recent rain. The Organ Pipes are a geological formation, from lava that cooled, contracted, and formed cracks which propagated downwards as the mass cooled. While you can clearly see why it is called such from sight, the pictures I got were not as clear. Therefore, I decided to climb up them as high as I could go. This was to my girlfriends dismay as she thought it ‘was too dangerous.’ If you’re an able climber I would advise to do it. There was an abundance of foot-holes, and it was very fun. I had played a few games in the Tomb Raider series when I was younger, and I felt just like Lara descending an ancient temple. I climbed fairly high and managed to get a few better pictures of the Organ Pipes and descended back down.

The whole hike was around 5 hours in total, with the way up to the summit, the detour to the Organ Pipes, and the way back down.  To say the weather in Dunedin has been pretty miserable lately, this was a walk to brighten up the gloom. I hope that if I get to the age of 99 I can still hike as well as Alfred Hamish Reed, and if I can I’ll certainly return to do this walk.

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Harbour Cone, Otago Peninsula

It’s been a while since I have properly posted anything, but I’ve been a busy, busy bee. I do however have plenty of exciting walks to share with you. The most recent was on Harbour Cone. If you’ve read my posts before you’ll probably know that I’m an Otago Peninsula fanatic. I’m considering staring a fan club. Harbour Cone was brought to my attention while looking around the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. There I saw this very cool painting below, which detailed that it was the largest hill on the Peninsula. So the next day, when it wasn’t siling it down with rain, we embarked to the OP and set off walking over the rolling hills.

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(Robin White, Harbour Cone)

There were several different approaches you could go to on the hike, and we chose the one starting from Broad Bay. From there, we were given the choice of the left-hand Bacon St track, or continue right on the Highcliffe Rd track. We chose the latter after a local advised us it was a less arduous, but longer route, offering better views on the way. The first half of the walk was a beautiful country stroll through farmers fields. You are surrounded by sheep, lush green hills, and the odd glimpse of the ocean. Some of the crossings were fairly overgrown, which meant you had to cross over the main road a few times, but it was always clear which direction the route was meant to go.

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After about an hour you reach the bottom of a steep track up to the summit of Harbour Cone. This proved challenging but a lot of fun. The Bacon Rd track which we decided against was meant to have been like that for the entire walk. I think here we definitely chose wisely.

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As we made our way up we turned away from the hill every so often to see a more spectacular view each time. Once we had reached the top we were greeted with a stunning 360 panoramic of the Dunedin harbour, the peninsula, Hoopers Inlet, and many of the different beaches I have written about before. If we hadn’t hiked up to Mount Cargill the previous week, I would have said that it was the best view Dunedin has to offer. It is stunning. To me, the picture below has the appearance of an oil painting, and my memory of it is very similar. Hoopers Inlet, which is the body of water in the centre of the picture, looks rather boggy driving next to it. From above it is incredible. The beach to the right of the image is Allan’s.

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Harbour Cone is a fantastic walk that I would recommend to anyone in the area. Much of it is easy-going, and the last stint is fairly difficult, but the views along the way and at the top are well worth it. For anyone wanting to join the Otago Peninsula Fan Club, henceforth known as OPFC, drop me a message. T-shirts for all its members! (members must purchase there own T-shirts)

(I will write about our Mount Cargill hike and Wanaka Part 2 very soon I promise)

Long Beach, Dunedin (Part 1)

Lying just 30 minutes drive outside of Dunedin, Long Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area, and it is easy to see why. The journey there, the beach, the cliffs, and the caves, all make this place simply stunning.

Warauwerawera, as Long Beach is known in Maori, is a small settlement just past Port Chalmers, with around 100 homes. Due to the fact that the beach lies in a bay and is not very affected by swells, it is a very popular swimming destination. But to look at this place you would want to swim here even if the waves were higher than your head. It is a paradise. It is also popular due to the rock faces which offer great climbing opportunities. There are many clubs that use the cliffs in the area. The most favoured is called Driver’s Rock, which lies halfway along the north end of the beach. The rock got its name after a fourteen year old girl named Agnes Driver died there in 1890. People believe that Agnes was walking along the cliffs with her sister and a gust of wind blew her hat onto a tree near the cliffs edge. She supposedly then lost her footing when reaching for her hat and fell from the edge.

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Now, you may have been wondering why this post is called ‘Part 1.’ This is because we were strapped for time when we first came here and did not get to see the place to its full potential. In this post I will talk further on the journey to Long Beach, and the cliffs and beach itself, but we did not have the chance to explore the vast caves. I was under the impression that they were rather small but large enough to camp in. However, after talking to a friend about them he had explained that they go very far back and one would need a torch to see it all. I will report further on these when I return to them, which will be in the not too distant future.

The journey to Long Beach was fantastic, and this was due to the landscape. A perk of living in New Zealand is that the scenery on the way to your destination is nearly always as beautiful as the place you end up. We couldn’t believe that we had not seen these views before. They were amazing. I don’t usually like car journeys, as I tend to get some mild travel sickness, but when travelling around here you seem to forget about your ailments and just drink in the country.

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Long Beach itself is a scenic paradise. The cliffs surrounding the settlement very much remind me of Austria and that is a wonderful thing. It didn’t seem very much like New Zealand to me at all, but the landscape does seem to be ever changing, and I guess I haven’t seen all that much of this place just yet. Going to places like this really make you think you are on holiday. As I mentioned earlier, the cliffs are a popular place for rock climbers, and we managed to catch a glimpse of them. We both would love to have a go at it properly with harnesses, so maybe when I come back to finish ‘Part 2’ you may see some pictures of me half way up the cliffs edge (hopefully not crying out of fear).

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The beach itself is one of the best we have been to. Looking out to the ocean from it is mesmerising. There is not a thing in sight. No boats, no surfers, no nothing. It is not likely to be the same in the height of summer, but it was great to have it all to yourself. I can confirm too that the beach is ‘Long’ and offers a picturesque walk of around 2.4km. With the cliffs, the ocean, and the openness of the beach, it makes for great scenery as you leisurely stroll.

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All in all I must say that this beach has a lot to offer. I was annoyed that we didn’t get to see everything the first time but we will definitely be going back to check out more. The cliffs, caves, rock-climbing, and beach are fantastic features of this small scenic settlement, and I cannot wait to update you with ‘Part 2.’

Victory Beach, Otago Peninsula

Not only is this the longest beach on the Otago Peninsula, it is also one of the best. At 3.5km, it offers the chance for a great afternoon ramble, a picnic, and even the opportunity to climb The Great (little) Pyramid.

Around 30 minutes drive from the Dunedin City Centre, Victory Beach is situated on the Pacific Ocean coast of the Peninsula. If you’ve read any of my blog posts before you will probably know that I write about the Otago Peninsula quite a lot. But it is for a good reason, and it never fails to leave me astonished. While on our journey to Victory Beach we were amazed to find that we had risen to the heavens. We were above the clouds and soaring like birds. I expected to see Mount Olympus or Zeus fly by me. It was incredible, and a great way to start the trip. The pictures below don’t entirely do the scene justice, but you will get the idea.

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Victory Beach was named after SS Victory, a sunken ship that was meant to set sail from Port Chalmers to Melbourne on 3 July 1861. This was due to the major incompetence and intoxication of Chief Mate George Hand. In the seven minutes that he was given full charge of the ship he had managed to run the ship aground. The cargo and passengers were forced to be taken off the ship, and there the ship lies to this day. In low tide you are meant to be able to see the flywheel, but we were not so fortunate. But you can see it in the above photo I have found.

While the history behind the beach was reason enough for me to want to visit, there are plenty of other reasons why this place is popular. The natural forming pyramids just outside of the beach make for fantastic views of the area. As you walk through the Okia reserve coming up to the beach you will come across two large pyramids. These are geometric basalt volcanic columns, and are quite spectacular. While you can climb both we decided to tackle the smaller one on this occasion. This is known to the locals as The Little Pyramid. Reaching the top will only take you five minutes and it lets you see a magnificent view of the peninsula region. I really cannot stress enough how beautiful it is. Before I moved to Dunedin I didn’t even know it was here, and it is now my favourite part of New Zealand. As you walk closer to the beach over the sand dunes, you will be able to see the back of the pyramids, and get a glimpse into how they were formed. I’m not much a geology enthusiast myself, but it seems pretty cool.

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From the car park, to the pyramids, and finally passed the sand dunes is Victory Beach. It is a very open and wide beach, and although we had arrived on a beautiful and warm Sunday lunch time, there were hardly any other people. This seems very typical of New Zealand beaches, and as a British person I just cannot understand it. If that beach was in England it would be full to bursting. It could have been half as hot and there would have been multitudes of people. Not that I’m complaining at all though, it is far better this way. The beach is a private paradise, with the dunes to the back, ocean to the front, and cliffs to the side. It offers a great chance to have a picnic, walk, or even a spot of rounders.

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On a final note I think it is important to say that this was my first beach experience in New Zealand where it was hot enough to take my shoes and socks off, and have a little paddle in the ocean. It’s been a while since my skin has felt the warm embrace of the summer sun. I had come from England from the winter, straight into the New Zealand winter. For any Game of Thrones fans out there I somewhat look like a White Walker at present. The point of this is that I have been to many beaches since I have been here, and they have all been highly enjoyable even in the winter cold. I cannot wait to revisit all of the beaches I have been to again in the upcoming summer. I consider myself a pretty lucky person to get the chance to visit these places, and if you ever come to this part of the world, you should definitely check out the Otago Peninsula. Rain or shine. Summer of winter.