Before I hiked the Milford Track we were staying in Queenstown and I wanted to do a big day walk as a last preparation/test before heading off to Fiordland. I found the perfect day hike in the Moonlight Track.
The start of the Moonlight Track is at the Skyline so it is an easy start catching the gondola up to Bob’s Peak. This is quite pricey (as are most tourist attractions in New Zealand) and annoyingly you have to buy a return ticket even if you are not going to use it.
Once we had got through the crowds and shops and negotiated the luge track it was time to start the walk. After the inevitable photo opportunity of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range….
Follow the signs for the Ben Lomond track, which climbs through woodland and then up towards the saddle. Keep looking back to enjoy the views of the lake and mountains. From the saddle you can run up to the summit of Ben Lomond, adding an extra hour to your day.
After the saddle it’s a gentle downhill, following the poled track that skirts along the top of the Moke Creek valley and enjoy the wonderful views across the backcountry.
I was disappointed to see a lot of non-native plantlife going wild but otherwise this is beautiful country.
After a few hours the track drops further and rounds Mt Bowen until you can see the massive sluiced-out terraces from the gold rush days in the 19th century.
Finally Arthur’s Point comes into view and touristic Shotover River attractions such as the jetboat, the Edith Cavell Bridge and the rope swing bring you back to reality.
Often when you see the hiking time signs you can assume that they are conservative and that if you are reasonably fit you will probably complete the walk in less time. However, this was not the case with the Moonlight Track so make sure you give yourself the whole day.
It is also quite a long walk – an extra half hour at least – from the track end to Arthur’s Point itself. You will also need to figure out transport from Arthurs Point (leave a car there or bus from Arthurs Point to Queenstown).
Take plenty of water and snacks, wear appropriate clothing, good hiking shoes and a hat and sunscreen to enjoy this excellent day walk from Queenstown. It’s a great option for a day out if you are backpacking New Zealand on a budget!
By Natasha von Geldern