Six reserves and a climb on Oamaru circuit

The hills behind Oamaru are bare and beautiful. Photo: Clare Fraser
The hills behind Oamaru are bare and beautiful. Photo: Clare Fraser

The hills behind Oamaru have got its back. They’re bare and beautiful with a track along the ridgeline.

This circuit visits six reserves in just three or so hours.

You can start the Skyline Walkway on State Highway 1 at Orwell St. It’s nice to warm up on the flat as pretty soon there’s some steep climbing with instant views over Oamaru.

At one stage you look down over what looks like a big grassy ampitheatre with a Pacific Ocean backdrop. Woodstock got it wrong. They should have had it here.

There’s a couple of interesting detours - a pocket of bush and an old quarry site.

But the best bit is the sense of walking the top of a wall between town and country.

Out east is the Kakanui Range and down below, the big piece of whitestone art that is Oamaru.

It’s appealing to have unimpeded views, especially in multiple directions. It feels safe.

Looking side to side is actually part of a form of psychotherapy, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Developed by Dr Francine Shapiro in 1987, EMDR has a patient guided to recall disturbing memories while using repeated sideways eye movements.

Dr Shapiro initially noticed the phenomenon when on a walk, noting her distressing thoughts had decreased after she’d been moving her eyes around.  The neurobiology underlying EMDR’s success isn’t yet known but the same with lots of drugs. Watch this space.

After an idyllic little creek there’s some pine forest. At one stage you’ll be faced with a choice between a clear road and a smaller path.

Counter intuitively, opt for the path at left, although there are tasty roadside blackcurrants at the right time of year.

Photo: Clare Fraser
Photo: Clare Fraser

Round a corner into suburbia and randomly there’s a giant dome of smooth, white modernist art.

Oh, it’s actually an observatory. Maybe it was here first and new houses grew around it.

An impressive new rest-home needs navigated past but walkway markers soon reappear.

Photo: Clare Fraser
Photo: Clare Fraser
An arboretum of labelled eucalyptus trees creates a mini Australia.

Knobbles of bark are made out of flesh gone wrong.

Treat of all treats, there’s a tip shop opposite the public gardens. The dilemma though is being on foot. No worries - there’s handy scrub nearby for temporarily stashing your wares.

Photo: Clare Fraser
Photo: Clare Fraser
The route now joins the Alps2Ocean Trail, with burnt out cyclists nearing the end of their journey at Oamaru Harbour.

Head back to the start along the waterfront, with the sound of the sea on one side and the view of the hills you just walked visible on the inland skyline.