Submitted by Katie Smith
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Front country - easily accessible
Out and Back
Native bushRiversideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
Not Suitable (Slow)
Kiwi area - strictly no dogs
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This run follows the Moonlight track up onto the tops. This description is of an out-and-back run, but with a car shuttle it would be possible to continue along the tops and either descend to Blackball or Barrytown along the Croesus track (or via Mt Watson).
Park at Andersons Flat at the road end. The track starts off gently alongside the creek, passing old mine tailings and relics. For the first 6km it climbs gradually through stunning pristine bush, following the Moonlight Creek, which it crosses several times on swing bridges. For this section any climbs are switchbacked and stay on a nice runnable gradient. However, after passing the derelict Meikle's Hut and crossing the right branch of the Moonlight the gradient increases significantly, climbing steeply through huge old trees before breaking out into subalpine scrub, full of dracophyllum trees.
This gradually gives way to open tussock, swampy at first. Follow the poles to the signposted tops junction. From here head left towards the Croesus track along the tops. There are plenty of short steep ups and downs and views for miles, both out to the Tasman and inland to the Southern Alps from Nelson Lakes to Mt Cook. You will also see the new Moonlight hut, built for the new Paparoa Great Walk that will join the tops to the Croesus once it is open.
Continue as far as you like along here - Mt Ryall makes a good goal but will add around 6km return to this description, which stops at point 1147. Once you've had your fill, turn around and enjoy the long downhill back through the bush. A great extension would be arranging a car shuttle so that you could start at the Croesus car park and run up the Mt Watson route along the tops to Mt Ryall, then continue down the Moonlight.
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Features of interest
Lots of old mine workings including a historic (dilapidated) hut. This area has kiwi and whio programmes and whio are often seen.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 20%
Technical Single Track: 60%
Moderate Single Track: 20%
Turn up the gravel Moonlight Road at Atarau and follow it right to the end.
Plenty of parking, no public transport.
The gravel road from Atarau to Anderson's Flat is pretty rough in places and folk with a low clearance 2wd car might choose to run or bike in. There is space for a few cars to park at the Moonlight info panels beside the Moonlight Rd turn off.
Avoid the tops in poor visibility as although there is the odd marker pole they are few and far between, and the ridgeline isn't totally straightforward.
Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.
Plenty of creeks on the way up through the bush, no easily-accessible water on the tops.
Exposed and gets very cold on the tops at any time of year and can snow almost year-round. Muddy after rain, and the Moonlight Creek right branch would be uncrossable after any significant rain, possibly one unnamed side creek before this too.
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