Time for a challenge! I’ve never climbed Harbour Cone (or as I immaturely like to call it: Harbour Boob), the distinctive 315m Otago Peninsula hill, but it’s been on my to-do list for a long time.
We reached the start of the track by travelling along Portobello Rd until we reached Turnbull’s Bay and then turning right into Bacon St, a short narrow road ending with a small patch of bush.
After following the track for a few minutes, we were presented with a choice, keep going ahead through the trees, or climb over a stile which led to a bridge and out on to open farm land. “Well the sign says Harbour Cone, this way!” I declared, and hopped the stile.
We embarked on a lengthy climb through paddocks, and soon Harbour Cone came into sight. Strange…we seemed to be moving away from it.
Eventually we made it to Highcliff Rd, where the track continued on the other side. We were now on a ridge adjacent to the mighty cone, commanding magnificent views of both the north and south sides of the peninsula.
Several tracks seemed to converge at this point, and our way was not clearly marked. We milled around in the general direction of the cone and eventually rejoined another track that clearly headed in the right direction. We were now on the slope of the cone itself.
At this point the track lost any pretence of weaving back and forth to save our legs and instead charged directly up the steep slope. Suddenly we felt the need to stop for a rest every dozen paces. Eventually we reached the rocky nipple zone and picked our way over the treacherous terrain.
Finally we panted up to the summit. Marvellous views in every direction comforted us as we recovered. One notable feature was the lime kilns which were clearly visible from our vantage point. I attempted to take a full panorama with my phone but it kept going wonky.
After a good breather, we headed down the north face of the hill, where another track was marked. Near Highcliff Rd we came across the ruin of an old stone dwelling, nothing but the lower part of the walls remaining. After crossing Highcliff Rd again, we followed the track directly down the hill…and discovered we were on the forested fork I had so foolishly dismissed earlier!
Two hours to climb, twenty minutes to descend, and an afternoon to rest our aching muscles.
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