Round-harbour run picturesque at every turn

Dunedin city is built around a pretty natural harbour. Peter Mackenzie discovers it has some great motorcycling roads as well.

Riding right around Otago Harbour's water's edge and hillside roads is a satisfying motorcycle trip on many levels - not just by virtue of the varied elevation of serpentine ascents and descents.

The journey's motorcycling buzz is matched with one inspiring view after another appearing around almost every other corner - and there are literally hundreds, each unique.

Starting from the city centre on a Suzuki DR650SE and Yamaha TDM900, we headed to Otago Peninsula, along Portobello Rd and right out to the albatross colony.

It's a flat road with mostly good seal but there are some traps for the unwary: especially the tight, decreasing-radius right-hander just after Broad Bay, a handful of extra-tight corners interspersed along the way (some look safely normal on entry), plus the odd mid-corner patch of gravel around Otakou by the Monarch jetty and Te Rauone before Harington Point. Ridden sensibly, it's fine and you can enjoy the views, particularly over Aramoana sand-spit from the elevated road as you reach Taiaroa Head.

From there it's turn around back to Portobello and left at Highcliff Rd - a tight twisty climb opening out to superb panoramas down to the harbour mouth and over peninsula back beaches to the Pacific Ocean.

Again, watch out for an extremely sharp left-hander and some tight, narrow, drop-away turns.

From the crest it's down Highcliff Rd and right into McKerrow St, then right into Doon St back to sea level for the trip around Portsmouth Dr, Anzac Ave then the Port Chalmers road (State Highway 88) and out to Aramoana.

A comfortable run, with more open bays down to Port Chalmers, then smaller ones again with some very tight corners to keep you alert.

At Aramoana's mole you can look back up to where you were at Taiaroa Head.

Turn around and head in towards Sawyers Bay, right into Station Rd, left at the roundabout along Stevenson Ave and up Brick Hill Rd, then right to Upper Junction Rd - another climb up strongly cambered, tortuous turns.

Right at the top into Mt Cargill Rd - a more open stretch with great views - before descending through the bush (watch for the tight 180deg left-hander) until Blueskin Rd appears on your right.

Back up that road takes you up and over the hill - watch out for the T-intersection with Purakanui Rd, which comes up quickly over a right-veering crest - all the way back down to sea level, via Borlases Rd at the bottom.

Take a right there and go back through Sawyers Bay (Stevenson Ave again) and along Blanket Bay Rd.

Then it's a right back on to State Highway 88 and on into the city for one of the most stimulating 130km rides anywhere - but an appalling choice for straight-line cruisers.

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