Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Motatapu River Track

Wanaka, Otago

Submitted by Malcolm Law

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 10 ?

Gnarl Factor: 13 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Totally/mostly flat


Open farmlands

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +4.1%

Average Downhill Gradient: -4.1%


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Estimated Times to Run







The track starts with a series of steps that take you above the river but within a km (and after crossing a few stiles) you drop back down to river level.
Following the red poles and obvious trail it's a mellow few kms following the track upstream, sometimes close to the river & sometimes a bit further back from it. All the way there are great views of the surrounding high peaks.
After 5k you pass through a gate to reach the downstream end of the Motatapu Gorge, which is well worth a stop to take a look. Then it's a series of steps up to the car park (just to say you did the whole trail.) Before re-tracing your steps downstream make sure you take the 100m stroll to the bridge over the gorge for some gobsmacking views down into the deep bowels of the gorge.

The Motatapu Gorge at the far end of the track is quite spectacular and well worth a look.

Car park is safe but take the usual precautions with valuables.

19 km

18 minutes




Follow the poles and obvious trail. It's a real challenge to take a wrong turn on this one!


Windproof jacket, First aid kit, Cellphone

Don't drink any of the river water as there are lots of cattle around. Take your own fluids.

Can be muddy after heavy rain, but nothing that will stop you. Can be icy in winter, especially early morning as the sun reaches here quite late.

This is a dual use track so watch out for MTB's.

Trail Legend

Brad Geen

Brad Geen

has completed Motatapu River Track once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Did this one after completing Rocky Diamond Route which is just up the road. Nice flat run along the river. The Autumn colours of the trees were absolutely stunning at this time of year.

Kat Webber

April 27, 2022

Best to start on the correct side of the river, unlike us...The western side where the rock climbers frequent is a little tricky to run...

Matt Rowbotham

March 6, 2022

Nice easy 1 with a good stair climb at each end to get the heart going!

Adam Clifford

February 28, 2021

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