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Motatapu River Track, Otago

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Motatapu River TrackBeginner

Submitted by Malcolm Law

Info Info
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Trail Information







Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Totally/mostly flat

Open farmlands


1:15 (Slow)
0:55 (Moderate)
0:40 (Fast)



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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.

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Features of interest

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

Make Up of Run

Easy Single Track: 100%

Route Data


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  • Access

    From Wanaka drive out of town on Mt Aspiring Road through Glendhu Bay until you reach the Motatapu River. Immediately after crossing the bridge turn left and 100m up the dirt road is a car park opposite the DoC toilet.
    From the car park walk back across the bridge. The trail starts just the other side of the river on the right hand side of the road.

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

    19 km

    18 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .

    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.

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