Recharging the batteries

A still, rather than sunny, day turned out to be perfect for exploring the Otago Harbour shared...
A still, rather than sunny, day turned out to be perfect for exploring the Otago Harbour shared path. Photos: Clare Fraser
Clare Fraser makes the most of Dunedin's new shared path on the eastern side of the harbour. 

After a week of doing battle, it can be tempting to retreat into one’s castle and pull up the drawbridge. Sunday night rolls around and we’re somewhat recharged.

Another option is to run away. Or just feel as if you have.

The beautiful new path down the east side of Otago Harbour provides an urban escape. It appears highly wheelchair accessible and cyclists seem to love it. Each step or revolution leaves the city behind.

Shags take a break on one of the many boat sheds dotted along the peninsula.
Shags take a break on one of the many boat sheds dotted along the peninsula.
The route has always been there, but walking roadside used to feel a bit like walking a tightrope. Now walking down the harbour feels like a serene, contemplative, magical mystery tour. Every corner presents a different view. The smooth, wide, new path makes it pure pleasure.

With cars no longer on the radar, the senses are freed to roam. The even surface underfoot lets the eyes wander over expanses of water and sky. Walking’s slowness means there’s time to watch the hills across the harbour change shape as you go.

Randomly, right beside the footpath near Macandrew Bay you suddenly see what looks like a native turf plant. It’s Selliera radicans, remuremu, ‘‘affectionately’’ known as bonking grass. Although this little toughie is pretty common in coastal areas it’s still a bit of a buzz to see this tiny thing thriving among surrounding standard grass.

Simon Blake refuels his vegetable oil-powered car for the trip to Dunedin 
from Broad Bay.
Simon Blake refuels his vegetable oil-powered car for the trip to Dunedin from Broad Bay.
Rest areas have young pohutukawa, getting ready to grow up and add to the waterside vibe. There are plenty of seats and random steps down to the water to let you dip your toes.

The further you go, the fewer cars there are — to the degree that distant traffic sounds from the other side of the harbour become more salient.

Other users whizz quickly past or approach on foot. Thus, it’s the ideal wide open space to listen through earbuds to anthems from your youth and warble along freely. Who cares? As you put one foot in front of the other, nothing matters. All is in perspective. Best keep left though, to allow for other users and avoid a hard dose of reality.

Funnily enough, ideal weather is not necessarily a sunny day. If you’re heading north that would mean the sun in your eyes. Calm stillness is idyllic.

Eventually, the shared path will reach the end of the peninsula. What an asset to the city and what a great way to put your troubles behind you.

Selliera radicans, otherwise known as bonking grass, near Macandrew Bay.
Selliera radicans, otherwise known as bonking grass, near Macandrew Bay.
I walked from Anderson’s Bay inlet to Broad Bay, which took over three hours at a reasonably beefy pace. This included stops for water in and out (Macandrew Bay has a public toilet) and for ‘‘Dunedin moments’’, running into acquaintances or friendly strangers.

The bus shuttles back and forth so often that, towards the end, it felt almost rude not to wave at the driver. Like an idiot, I did and felt immediately dicky.

Nevertheless, it would have made the perfect transport back except for the fact my friend in Broad Bay offered me a ride home in his vegetable oil-powered diesel. When he pulled away, having dropped me off, I think I got whiff of barbecue.

 

Comments

Banking grass? There's that word again - "Revolution". :)

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