Aramoana and the Mole
The seaside village of Aramoana (“pathway to the sea” in Maori) is 27 km north of Dunedin, a 20 minute drive from Port Chalmers along the edge of beautiful Otago Harbour. The Mole is a breakwater 1200 metres long which was constructed in the 1880s to form a channel at the harbour entrance. The pounding of the Pacific Ocean and arson have caused damage over the years, and the Mole has been made larger and longer, and ships scuttled in the waters beside it to add strength. You can walk the length of the Mole and enjoy the history, fabulous views and wildlife. Fur seals can be seen at the end, white fronted terns flash past and to the east on Taiaroa Head the Northern royal albatross can be seen on their nests. On windy days over summer you can often see them wheeling and soaring around the headland.
The Carey’s Bay Hotel has it all. Built from Port Chalmers bluestone and in a picturesque setting with a view to the harbour entrance, it’s been at the heart of the local boat building and fishing community since it opened in 1874 as The Crescent Family Hotel. With a menu heavy on local seafood such as clams, scallops, flounder, brill, sole, blue cod, whitebait and oysters, it’s a favourite with locals, Sunday drivers and visitors from out of town. Fish and chips, pies, steaks, sandwiches and curries are also available and there’s Emersons beer on tap. A refurbishment in 2001 in true Victorian style has made this pub a delight, worth visiting for so many reasons.
There’s nothing quite like a horse ride through glorious scenery. The pace is slow and the gentle rhythm of the horse’s stride takes you back to an older and simpler way of travel. Hare Hill Horse Treks know all about the joy of horse trekking because they’ve been taking riders of all abilities across their farm and along Aramoana beach on their Irish sport and standard bred horses for many years. They provide helmets, half chaps, boots, raincoats and vests plus well mannered horses. With a thermos of tea in the saddlebag and a talk on the history and geography of the area, you’ll be sure to have a comfortable and informative couple of hours in the saddle. They even provide Welsh mountain cross ponies for children.
For a true Kiwi experience a trip to Long Beach is hard to beat. It’s roughly a half hour drive from Dunedin by car via Port Chalmers and the views of the harbour, ocean and surrounding hills are superb. From the carpark in the reserve it’s a short walk through sand dunes to the shoreline where the beach to the left leads to a pinnacle used by rock climbers, and at the far end a vast cave. To the right there’s a lagoon which is home to birds such as royal spoonbills. Long Beach is a popular swimming and picnicking spot for families in summer and a peaceful place for a beach walk at any time of year.
Dunedin’s northern beaches run around the coast from the entrance to Otago Harbour to Blueskin Bay, vast stretches of sand beneath towering cliffs, separated by rocky headlands. Locals love them for their surf, wildlife and tranquillity. Aramoana, Long Beach and Purakanui are small beachside villages with a mix of permanent residents and holiday houses. Murdering Beach, a remote and perfect gem facing north and reached via a steep unsealed road, has no houses. It’s best to visit this area via Port Chalmers. It’s a flat drive along the harbour’s edge to Aramoana, while the other three beaches are on the other side of the hill, accessed via Blueskin Rd and Purakanui Rd which give sublime views of the hills, harbour and ocean.
Mike McClelland’s family had a crib (holiday house) at The Spit (Aramoana) way back in 1912. His Aunty Doll next door had a table which was salvaged off the Tyrone, a steamer wrecked just outside the harbour entrance in 1913. He remembers a time when nets put out off the Mole would feed the whole village with moki, greenbone, trevally and trumpeter. A staunch member of the Aramoana League which was set up in 1931 to provide a New Year sports day for children and which took up the fight to save Aramoana from an aluminium smelter in the late 1970s, Mike has always given a large amount of time to community projects. The Harbour Board, Rowing Club, Boys Brigade and Lions Club have all been avenues for him to use his skills to make life better for local people. Now he’s supporting the campaign to restore the historic Pilot’s Wharf at Aramoana.
Mike McClelland passed away in January 2016.