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Motatapu Track - Full Monty, Otago

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Motatapu Track - Full MontyIntermediate - Experienced

Info Info
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Trail Information







Back country - remote

Point to Point (one way)


Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Intermediate - Experienced

13:00 (Slow)
9:30 (Moderate)
6:30 (Fast)



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The route is challenging, but is well marked with DOC poles for the whole route. However it would be challenging in places in poor weather.
Follow track through the farmland (leaving gates as found) before entering a short bush section. This climbs steadily, before dropping down to the Fernburn Hut.
Leaving Fernburn Hut, the track climbs steadily through open country to the first high point at Jack Hall's Pass (1275m)
There is a steep descent, before a 2nd short climb over the next ridge to drop down to Highland Creek Hut.
Drop down from the hut across the small creek, and then head straight up the next ridge, turning L) at the top, continuing up to the fenceline, before traversing around to the next descent. This is another steep drop down the ridge, through a welcome stretch of beech forest (with a stream that can be accessed for water most of the year), before crossing to the next ridge and beginning the next climb up.
Once the next high point is reached, there is a further traverse along and down the ridge, with a final steep descent down to Motatapu Road.

Turn R) for approx 100metres on the farm road and re-enter the trail on the opposite side of the road using the stile (not signed but you can see marker poles on the far side). It's now just a few hundred metres to Rose Hut.
From Roses, the trail heads straight up a long climb and over the saddle in front - Roses Saddle (1270m).
There is then is a long gradual descent down the ridges, on mostly moderate trail, to get to the Arrow River.
If the river is high, follow the poled high route. If the river is low, you can use the river to get to Macetown. If following the river, cut corners using the animal tracks where able. If you get your lines right you'll cross the river frequently but spend very little time actually in the river.
When you reach Macetown, the trail either continues down the river following the 4WD track with numerous river crossings, or follow the poled route up through Macetown (interesting historically). The latter is slightly longer with a bit more climb, but they are similar in terms of time.
The river trail will eventually end up on River Right, above the river, the road will now be well formed and a relatively easy run to get your rhythm back.
At the 6km to go mark you will join the road from Motatapu again, and there a few small climbs with a few river crossings to finish in Arrowtown.

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Features of interest

You will see numerous lizards along the tops, and if lucky native Falcons.
Along Arrow River and Macetown there are old mine workings heading out to Arrowtown

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 5%

Technical Single Track: 55%

Moderate Single Track: 15%

Easy Single Track: 5%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 20%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate Strava activity for each



Length: 27.50km

Fern Burn Hut

Fern Burn Hut

Length: 14.00km

Jack Hall's Saddle

Jack Hall's Saddle

Length: 22.00km


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Head to Glendhu Bay from Wanaka.
    Once you pass the Motorcamp on the R), Motatapu Road is a couple of hundred metres on the L). Drive up here about 2.5k. The start of the trail is on your left, parking is across the road.

    Remote parking at start of trail - plenty of room. Toilet & info board too.

    15 km

    18 minutes



  • Staying Safe

    Very hard.

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

    The route is well marked with poles with orange markers.
    Once on the Arrow River, continue down river, following the 4WD track where available.


    Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Gaiters.

    Usually available at each hut, but don't depend on this during a dry spell.
    It's safe to drink from Fern Burn anywhere after entering the bush at the 2.7k mark. Also good creek water at the bottom of the big descent from Jack Hall's Saddle, just the other side of Highland Creek Hut, in the small bush section at about 19k and anywhere in the Arrow River as far down as Macetown. Between Macetown & Arrowtown I wouldn't risk it.

    Can be cold anytime of year, exposed ridgelines.
    Likely snow in the winter and can be very hot in summer.

    Hills are very steep - if you use poles take them, if you don't use poles then consider them.
    Take care of the river if the level is high.

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