Hiking the Harbour Cone Track is one of the best things you can do on a trip to the Otago Peninsula. The views of the harbour and the green hills surrounding it are spectacular and you can also see over Hoopers Inlet and some of the Peninsula’s rugged ocean coastline. You can start at the bottom of the hill (Bacon Street) or halfway up (Highcliff Road) — whichever you choose your legs will definitely get a workout during the steep final ascent.
Hiking the Harbour Cone Track
I parked my car at the end of Bacon Street and started the gradual climb up to Highcliff Road. It was a nice relaxing start through dew covered fields. Close to the start you’ll see a gate you’ll have to pass through — from there it’d be fairly difficult to get lost (just follow the yellow markers).
At Highcliff road you’ll need to cross over and join back up with the track. This section, between Highcliff Road and the final ascent of the Harbour Cone features several stone ruins, including a wall and what looks like a small house.
The Harbour Cone summit
At 315 metres, the Harbour Cone is one of the highest points on the Otago Peninsula. It’s a remnant of the massive volcano which shaped the landscape in these parts. The final ascent is pretty steep — it goes straight up through a paddock home to a flock of sheep. The last section is quite rocky, but it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
The view at the top is well worth the effort. You can see right over the harbour towards the city, Taiaroa Head (the far end of the Peninsula), Hoopers Inlet and some of the harbour-side suburbs like Portobello, Broad Bay and Port Chalmers. Otago Harbour is an incredibly scenic place and the top of the Harbour Cone is one of the best places to view it.
Before I left I walked around the front a little bit and got some cool photos with large volcanic rocks in the foreground. It’s a really photogenic place — easily one of the best viewpoints in Dunedin — and the best time in terms of light seems to be early in the morning.
As it’s almost entirely downhill, the return journey shouldn’t take too long. I finished the hike (from Bacon Street) in two hours, which included quite a lot of standing around at the top. If you start at Highcliff Road you could probably halve that.
READ MORE: Looking for an easier Otago Peninsula walk? Check out the Soldiers Memorial Track
- Bacon Street: Drive along the low road (Portobello Road) until you get to Broad Bay. Bacon Street is right at the end of Broad Bay (just past Fletcher House).
- Highcliff Road: Highcliff Road is the scenic “high road” on the Otago Peninsula. Keep driving past the turnoffs to Larnach Castle, Sandfly Bay and the Sandymount Track. The sign for the Harbour Cone Track is fairly small and there aren’t many places to park, so you might have to park up before (or after) it and walk for a few minutes (having Google Maps on your phone will help you find it!).
Visiting Dunedin? Check out our post about 30 fun things to do in Dunedin!
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