Last Updated: 18th Feb 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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Motatapu Track - Full Monty

Last Updated: 18th Feb 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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Grunt Factor: 104 ?

Gnarl Factor: 64 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Point to Point (one way)


Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +13.3%

Average Downhill Gradient: -14.1%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.

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

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

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

15 km

18 minutes



Very hard.

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.

Trail Legend

Lorna Hill

Lorna Hill

has completed Motatapu Track - Full Monty once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Awesome but sooo hard

Adam Clifford

March 6, 2021

Awesome mission to do. Single track and lots of sidling. 4 decent climbs so if you do in one hit make sure you have some hills in your legs. First 7km's reasonably runnable but then running sections are intermittent. Great views throughout. Last section most fun when you follow the river, getting wet for a good 5km's. Make sure the flow is not too high otherwise take the high water track. Definitely deserve a beer at the end as you will feel like you have had a good day out. Enjoy!

James Brewer

May 30, 2020

A pretty solid tough trail. Lots++ of big climbs and siddling on single track. In my opinion one of the toughest going trails around. You will be very isolated on trail with little reception say take all the safety gear necessary and I don't recommend doing it alone.

Rachel Bridgewater

May 15, 2020

Amazing ridgeline running and the short bits of beech forest are a welcome change to the tussock landscape. Did this over two days, fastpacking, staying in Roses hut overnight. While it means carrying some extra weight and a bigger pack,tackling that last hill on fresh legs the next day felt like a breece, I had more time to manoeuvre the river and the downhill part was most enjoyable. The river option can be tricky to maneuver for vertically challenged lightweights - ensure you know the rain and weather forecast as it can swell easily overnight from rain falling at the headwaters, not necessarily in the Motatapu valley. I had to scramble up to the path for the last part as the current got too strong.

Inge Bahle

January 29, 2020

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail 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 activity for each.



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