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Motatapu Adventure Run: March 5th 2017

Fernburn, Motatapu Trail, New Zealand
Fernburn, Motatapu Trail, New Zealand

The hooter sounded at 6am from Glendhu Bay & we were off in the dark. It started as an easy 6km of 4WD & single track leading into the bush where the track became more technical and precipitous winding its way up to Fernburn Hut. Sunrise about 1hour into the run revealed most spectacular views and resulted in less people disappearing off the side of the track!

After a quick gear check & a water top up it was onwards & upwards this time on steeper precipitous sheep tracks with opinionated tussock which was rather pushy at the most awkward of moments & delighted in hiding boggy holes! Eventually Jack Halls saddle delivered even more stunning views & it was a steep descent down to the creek before ascending another 2 ridges to Highland hut nestled in a beautiful basin. Feeling that I had run at least 25km I was rather disappointed to see I had only covered 16km!

But “Hey this was an adventure” & there was a river to be crossed so I could climb up another steep spur and continue negotiating the precipitous tussocky sheep tracks which were getting a good jabbing from my running poles by this point! I just had to look around & the scenery washed away any dark thoughts that had popped into my head as my legs screamed that I wasn’t even half way! Then guess what? more up ,down, up, down, getting close to Knuckle Peak, some sidling, more up then a steep down to the Motatapu River & a close encounter with the mountain bikers before skipping (ha, ha) across the flats to Roses hut for a much needed fuel stop prior to taking on the final BIG climb!

Up, up and away we zig zagged up a non-precipitous, less tussocky and non-opinionated track to Roses saddle. Yay! now I had to cajole my legs into running again as there was still 20 odd km to go and after a bit of stern talking they got me down to Arrow River where we took the low water option of running along the river. I enjoy this sort of terrain but didn’t realize it was going to be for 5km in freezing water. By the time I reached Macetown my toes, feet & calfs were completely numb. However there were only 15km to go & I had caught up with the 2nd woman, it was great to have some company.

From Macetown to the finish it was plain sailing, honest! All we had to do was follow the 4WD track & the river crossings were miniscule compared to what we had already covered. Most was downhill but there were a few sneaky wee inclines that felt like mountains before we popped out into Arrowtown Green & a most welcome finish line.


Poles or 4 legs

Technical running skills

A love of heights & ridges

Don’t get hooked up on distance covered and time taken

Cover heaps of steep ascents/descents prior to the race.

A sense of humor & a slightly crazy perspective of a fun day out in the mountains!

Course Info:

3010m Ascent


4 Big Ascents/Descents plus lots of minor ones

Narrow Trails

Precipitous Tracks/Ridges

Technical Roots, Tussock

5km+ Riverbed Running

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