This is an awesome cross-country ride from Queenstown around Ben Lemond Peak. You'll enjoy magnificent views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountains beyond it to the south. You'll then climb to the serene Moke Lake, where you can take the Moke Lake Road
and Moke Lake Loop Track
Next, you head into the backcountry behind Ben Lemond Peak and you'll ride a few hundred feet above Moke and Moonlight Creeks and the Shotover River on Moonlight Track
with mile high peaks towering over you. Moonlight Track
is a fun, challenging ribbon of singletrack contoured onto the side of Ben Lemond Mountain.
This trail traverses the private Ben Lemond Station farm, so tread lightly. Be sure to leave any gates that you encounter in the same position that you've found them. And be careful not to spook any farm animals that you may encounter.
From downtown Queenstown, head west along the main Glenorchy-Queenstown Road. After a half mile, veer right onto Fernhill Road for the short climb (400 ft; 1 mi) to Fernhill. Follow Fernhill Road until Arawata Terrace, which eventually becomes the Arawata Bridle Track
From this singletrack, you'll have awesome views of Lake Wakatipu below and the Remarkables Mountains behind them. A fun descent on the Arawata Bridle Track
takes you back to the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road along the shore Lake Wakatipu.
Follow the main road west for a mile and then turn right onto the paved Moke Lake Road
to begin the second major climb (900 ft; 1.8 mi) to Moke Lake. Shortly after the crest, the road surface becomes gravel. Moke Lake is nestled at the head of a beautiful valley flanked by Mount Crichton (6,135 ft) and Mount Hanley (5,348 ft) to the west, Ben More Peak (6,043 ft) to the north, and Ben Lemond Peak (5,735 ft) to the east. You may find sheep and/or cattle grazing in the valley. If you've got time and energy, take a short diversion around the lake on Moke Lake Loop Track
The Moonlight Sonata continues north along the Ben Lemond Station Road
. This backcountry gravel farm road passes through stunning terrain and you're likely to have the place to yourself save for the cattle/sheep.
The first 3.5 miles are relatively easy going along the eastern side of Moke Creek Valley. The crystal clear Moke Creek meanders its way slowly lower in elevation as you head north along the road. At the 12.8-mile mark, you've got a half mile, 300 ft plunge down to the creek. You'll cross an icy (in the winter and early spring) tributary to Moke Creek and then you've got a half mile, 300-ft climb back up to continue your journey a few hundred feet above the valley floor.
At 13.5 miles, you'll pass the remains of Sefferstown, a historical gold mining community, but there really isn't much left to see. You might want to take a break at Sefferstown, because after that you've got a mile of climbing at about 10% (average) grade. Also you'll enjoy a beautiful view to the north up the valley formed by Moonlight Creek. There is a fork in the road at Sefferstown.
Continue to the right to head towards Moonlight Track
. The left fork takes you north into that beautiful valley, but that might be more epic than most people want. Below you, Moke Creek flows into Moonlight Creek which is a bit more turbulent on its way to the Shotover River.
After Sefferstown, you'll reach the high point of the loop at 14.5 miles. Here a steep trail rises to the right which goes to Ben Lemond Peak. Ben Lemond Station Road
continues for a quarter mile where it forks into two separate trails. Moonlight Track
continues to the right at this fork. The left fork heads down and over Moonlight Creek.
is the highlight segment of the this loop. It's a singletrack with magnificent views that is also fun and challenging to ride. You'll wind your way high above Moonlight Creek and the Shotover River on a narrow ribbon of singletrack carved into the side of Ben Lemond Peak. Meanwhile, Ben Lemond Peak towers above you and many other 3,000 - 5,000-foot peaks bristle in the distance.
The cross slope is impressive at times and there are a few places with some exposure where a fall could have greater consequences (but these have the best views). The Moonlight Track
ends in the town of Arthurs Point. Here you pick up Gorge Road, which takes you back into Queenstown to the south.