Head for the Heyward Point hills

This ride starts with a tough climb but the rewards are some stunning views, particularly along Heyward Point Rd and down the spectacular Doc track to Aramoana.

Careys Bay, Sawyers Bay, Mt Cargill, Heyward Point, Aramoana.
Distance: 39.3km.
Main climb: 400m.
Estimated riding time without stops: 3 hours.

Start your ride outside the beautifully restored Careys Bay Hotel and head into Port Chalmers.

Ride down the main street and, just before you leave town, turn right into Wickliffe St, which quickly becomes Borlases Rd as it heads up the hill. This street is a safer route up and over to Sawyers Bay.

When you reach the Sawyers Bay roundabout, go straight through on Stevenson Ave and climb Brick Hill Rd until you reach the Upper Junction Rd intersection.

Take a deep breath, then a swig from your drink bottle, then turn right and head up the hill on Upper Junction Rd. This is a significant climb, but the up-side is that it's sealed and the inclines are not too savage.

As you climb, take time to look back at the views of Otago Harbour which open up as you get higher.

Keith Munro takes in the view from the top of the Heyward Pt track with the Mole and Taiaroa Head...
Keith Munro takes in the view from the top of the Heyward Pt track with the Mole and Taiaroa Head below.
When you reach Mt Cargill Rd, turn right and head up the easier climb to the summit of today's ride. Pause at the lookout to take in the views down to Port Chalmers and Taiaroa Head, and over to Portobello and the rest of the peninsula.

Before too long, you will be at the top after an impressive 400m climb from Careys Bay and you can set sail down Mt Cargill Rd. Nice to be tearing downhill for a change.

Once you have rounded the sharp left-hand hairpin bend, watch out on the right for Green Rd, as you have to turn up this gravel road. As you make the short climb, you will see Blueskin Bay stretched out to the north. Just over the top, you will meet Blueskin Rd - turn right and follow this sealed road uphill.

On your left, look for the predator exclusion fence which marks the top of the new Orokonui ecosanctuary.

At the next major intersection, turn left on to Heyward Point Rd and stay on this to the end. The road twists and turns from one side of the hilltop to the other, offering sweeping vistas over Otago Harbour one minute then north to Blueskin Bay and Purakaunui Inlet the next.

It has a few climbs, but nothing too bad, and before too long you will be at the gate marking the end of the road.

Note that this track is closed for lambing each spring (usually from late August until Labour Day weekend), so check with Doc when it reopens.

Hop over the stile or go through the gate and follow the fence, which is festooned with green and red track markers. This ‘‘track'' is rocky in places and almost impossible to ride, but don't be tempted to turn off on one of the farm tracks - keep following the fence with its markers.

This first section of the Heyward Point track will lead you to a promontory atop the cliff towering over Spit beach and Aramoana. It's a spectacular place where you will want to linger to soak up the views.

When you can tear yourself away, throw your bike over the fence on the south side and, after letting your bike's seat down a bit (makes the descent safer), set out on the tricky, steep descent down the grassy paddock.

Very few riders I know can stay in the saddle for the entire length of this track, so don't feel bad if you decide to take your bike for a walk in the interests of selfpreservation.

Traversing back and forth across the paddock makes the descent easier if you are determined to ride. Be extra careful if the grass is wet, as this will make it even more slippery.

Eventually, you will come out in a quarry and then arrive at Aramoana Rd. Turn right and head inland. Ahead is a pleasant 9km ride back to Careys Bay.

Otago Harbour laps the shore just a couple of metres away to your left and it's pleasant watching the boats and birds on the water as you waft along on this quiet byway.

Just before you get back to your starting point, you will pass (on your left) a simple 1880s-style cottage perched between the road and harbour at Deborah Bay. This was the only home known by Mungo Lewis, the Port Chalmers character who died in June.

In the early 20th century, the cottage's two rooms were home to the Lewis family numbering about 20, of whom Mungo was the youngest.

Just around the corner, you will see the welcome sight of the Careys Bay Hotel.

Congratulations - you've survived the toughest of our four Great Dunedin Bike Rides. Time for a cold one! See you out on an AOK social ride soon.

- John Fridd helps organise Saturday afternoon AOK Social Riders outings, which include rides suitable for most abilities, from Tuffnuts to Cruisies. New riders welcome. For more information on the AOK Social Riders, go to: www.mountainbikingotago.co.nz
Go to ‘‘forums'', then AOK.

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