The Other 1
Here the itinerary is described north-to-south; for the other direction, see The Other 1 (northbound).
Highway 1 is mostly two-lane but average speeds are high, so this itinerary aims to create a slower-speed touring route serving the main destinations. In many cases the route given here is the old highway, so the itinerary is like Route 66. The recommended route is no more than 5 or so km to one or other side of the highway and does not use any gravelled roads. The intention is to create a route ideal for campervans and people admiring the view (and get these slowpokes off the main highway!).
Destinations (north to south)
Oamaru to Dunedin
Oamaru's main street, Thames Street runs north-south, and continuing straight ahead (where State Highway 1 veers off the the right) will take you past the historic town center of restored Victorian stone buildings. This is well worth a 10 minute get-out-and-walk.
Little Blue Penguins come ashore just south of here every day around dusk.
Follow the coastline past Oamaru harbor and over the hill to Kakanui, a small fishing port and holiday town.
The coastal route rejoins Highway 1 at Waianakarua, a hard left here takes you onto the highway and over a historic stone arch bridge (see it before you turn on to the highway).
Hampden (pronounced Hamden) on the highway has a fish and chips shop, pub and somewhat clean public toilets.
The highway follows the coast south to the Moeraki Boulders a worthwhile get-out-and-walk look at some interesting geological freaks.
South of here look out for the right-turn to Trotters Gorge, on Horse Range Road. This diversion climbs over the Horse Range through limestone country. Trotters Gorge has bush walks and a picnic area. The highway avoided by this diversion has its own scenic good points, running along the beachfront for most of the way, so keep it in mind on the way back.
Horse Range Road comes the back way into Palmerston where the highway is rejoined. At the town center take a left and cross the railway on to the loop road to Goodwood: it's three sides of a square but a nice bit of motoring.
At Goodwood it's a sharp left back onto Highway 1. There's a big highway construction at Tumai heading into Waikouaiti. Check out the oldest buildings in this district, Matanaka Farm – the best bit is the homely 3-seater toilet (a big one for the papa, a middle-sized one for the mama... ).
Just south of Waikouaiti, cross a river and look out for the right-hander to Karitane along Coast Road.
Coast Road is an old highway out of Dunedin, through one of the earlier farming districts of the European settlers. Karitane is an old whaling port and now has a small fishing port.
Seacliff is the site of an old mental hospital, mostly demolished due to land instability around here. There's a backpacker hostel (The Asylum) in the remaining buildings and the old hospital grounds are open to the public. New Zealand writer Janet Frame was a patient here.
Coast Road heads south to Blueskin Bay at Warrington. Just before the first rail crossing at the entrance to Warrington, there's a historic church on the left. St Barnabas Church is set in a wooded cemetery. If the building is open, check out the polished wood interior and stained glass windows.
Coast Road rejoins the Highway at Evansdale. Just south of here, take the left turn at Waitati. The main street takes you through the village past a school then winds up and over Mount Cargill. The Orokonui Ecosanctuary is a major wildlife project under construction here.
Mount Cargill Road crests the summit then winds down (as North Road) into Dunedin's northern suburb North East Valley. This is the old State Highway 1 bypassed in the late 1950s.
Halfway down the valley on the left is Baldwin Street, the 'world's steepest street'. Great for a demonstration of bravado: there's a drinking fountain and seat at the top.
Straight ahead at the traffic lights at the foot of the valley, and you rejoin the highway through Dunedin.