Country ramble to lonely beach

Photo: ODT Graphic
Photo: ODT Graphic

In the final of a three-part series of cycle journeys close to home, John Fridd leads the way from Milton to Chrystalls Beach, Bull Creek and back again . . .

Milton to Chrystalls Beach/Bull Creek and return
Distance: 41km (add 8km for Bull Creek visit)
Main climb: 150m (twice)
Estimated riding time: 2 hours without stops

This ride starts in Milton and takes you on a country ramble to a lonely beach where a graceful French ship went to die.

You can then opt to explore one of Otago's best-kept secrets before cruising back to Milton, experiencing a thrilling downhill on the way home. Pack a snack if you fancy a lunch break at lovely Bull Creek.

The ride starts in the vast rear car park of the White Horse Inn, Milton.

Turn left on to Spenser St at the back of the car park, ride north, turn right on to Springfield Rd, then left on to Back Rd and head north. At 4km, turn right on to rural Glenledi Rd and head seawards.

This initially sealed road takes you up a delightful green valley. At 9km, the seal ends and you climb a short hill to reach the intersection with Coal Gully Rd. Turn left and head towards the shining Pacific Ocean.

At 15km, you'll reach the Irishman Rd intersection; go straight ahead, down to Chrystalls Beach. At the bottom, turn right for a short side trip to Cooks Head Rock, a strange volcanic vent which explodes from the beach.

Then, retrace your route and ride through the Chrystalls Beach cribs to the end of the road (you've now done 20km).

Shoulder your bike, scramble down to the lagoon and head north on the track to the other cluster of cribs, hopping over the stream if it's flowing.

Once you reach the road you'll see to the left the new cairn marking the wreck of the French barque Marguerite Mirabaud, which foundered here in 1907, sparking a salvage frenzy among locals. (Surf the web for details and photos).

Graft up the road and at the intersection with Bull Creek Rd you have the option of turning right for a side trip to Bull Creek, 4km down this road.

It's well worth a visit if you don't mind the climb back out _ it's a super spot for a lunch break and the walking track (built by the cribbies) up Bull Creek is Otago's best-kept secret.

Then ride back up Bull Creek Rd, and tour through a small valley; turn right when you reach Irishmans Rd and head back inland. At the Coal Gully Rd intersection, turn left and enjoy the ride through rolling farmland and forests before plunging down to the Tokomairiro River. Whee!

Cross the river on to sealed Toko Mouth Rd then recross the river on to Back Rd and cruise into Milton, watching for Spenser St and then the pub's rear entrance, which is where you started. Time for a cold one!

  • John Fridd organises monthly AOK Wanderers rides for older riders (mainly 55-plus) around Dunedin and further afield The Otago Mountain Bikers group organises weekly rides suiting riders of most ages and abilities. Search the group names on Facebook for more details. 

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