The Moonlight Circuit is an amazing and challenging one day adventure circuit that takes you up into the awesome, rugged back-country behind Queenstown. And get this - it's so close you can start riding from downtown...
You'll sidle up the dramatic Shotover Gorge on gnarly singletrack, follow steep 4x4 tracks half way round a mountain, all the while with stunning panoramas of rivers, lakes and sparse, soaring hills and mountains. After some gravel road you'll take in one of the best purpose-built single tracks in the area. Then it's back to town along the sealed road beside glorious Lake Wakatipu.
This circuit is challenging. Unless you are very fit, strong and skilled you'll have to push your bike for an hour or more.
Now for some details... The excellent brochure "Queenstown & Wakatipu Mountain Bike Guide" will help make sense of what follows.
The best way to do the circuit is anti-clockwise. Ride (or get a lift!) out of town along Gorge Road to Arthur's Point. Turn left up McMillan Road then McChesney where and you'll find the the Moonlight Track and eventually the start of the singletrack. This piece of grade 4 singletrack is the Moonlight Track from which this circuit gets its name. It is 4 km long and was an old miners trail. It is narrow, sometimes rocky, sometimes exposed, often steep and always breathtaking.
After that you leave the Shotover River and start heading for Moke Lake. You're on 4x4 tracks. They are often steep and always undulating. The panoramas are no less dramatic.
You can take the gravel road past Moke Lake but you'll want to ride round it on singletrack. Then take the gravel road past Lake Kirkpatrick over a saddle and start heading down towards Lake Wakatipu. But look out for the start of the Gold Digger Trail. You don't want to miss this 3 km piece of glorious purpose-built singletrack.
If you're still feeling energetic when you get to Lake Moke, you could take long way home by going down past Lake Dispute. That way is described in the Four Lakes Loop and allows you to take in the Seven Mile Bike Park before heading home.
Either way you're just left with a pleasant ride on sealed road along Lake Wakatipu back to town. You'll be smiling all the way...
Text revised by jimcummings, April 2015