Off The Beaten Track In Queenstown

lululemon x The Wilderness

 

The sky lit up in vibrant hues of pinks and oranges as we gathered down by Queenstown’s lakefront. Earlier this month, we took a group of four men out into the mountains, decked out in the lululemon’s Wilderness Explore and Escape collection, to explore the lesser-known corners of the world’s adventure capital. The plan? Start the day with epic Skippers Canyon and end it with local favourite, the Moonlight Track.

 

 

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OFF-ROAD IN SKIPPERS CANYON 

Our playground for the morning was Skippers Canyon, an epic gorge, carved over the years by the Shotover River. Once a gold mining area, it is now a dramatic landscape for tramping, camping, kayaking, mountain biking, rafting and for us, four-wheel driving.

Seconds after entering Skippers Road, we were already in awe and we couldn’t help but pull over to explore the rugged terrain with our own two feet. There was a light dusting of fresh snow on the slopes above us and a slight drizzle as we hiked through wild grasses and scramble up prehistoric-looking rock structures.

The drizzle turned into a light shower and so we piled back into the 4WD and rocked our way along the thrillingly narrow gravel road, with the river in mind. Along the way, the sky cleared up a little and the landscape around us turned into that unmistakable Central Otago gold. We spotted a track on the left and decide to follow it up to get a good view of the surrounding pines.

 

 

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The drizzle turned into a light shower and so we piled back into the 4WD and rocked our way along the thrillingly narrow gravel road, with the river in mind. Along the way, the sky cleared up a little and the landscape around us turned into that unmistakable Central Otago gold. We spotted a track on the left and decide to follow it up to get a good view of the surrounding pines.

Down by the Shotover River, the sound of rushing water filled us simultaneously with peace and adrenalin; though admittedly, more of the latter, and we found ourselves skipping stones (does that ever get old?) and even wading into the water.

As we turned out of Skippers Road, the suburbs around Queenstown came into view and we marvelled at how we could feel so removed from civilisation when being so close to it. We really do have the best of both worlds in this mountain town.

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NEED TO KNOW;

You could visit Queenstown time and time again and never get the chance to come down into Skippers Canyon because of its inaccessibility. Skippers Road is known as one of New Zealand’s most scenic, and also most dangerous, roads. It is only driveable by 4WD and is not covered by rental company insurance. You’ll have to enlist the services of a local guiding company or make friends with someone who has a 4WD.

 

WHAT TO WEAR:

Wear hiking shoes with a good grip for the trail and the Escape and Explore Short which is quick-drying for the glacial swims.

 

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OFF GRID ON THE MOONLIGHT TRACK 

Less than 15 minutes from the bustling town center of Queenstown and you can find yourself high in the mountains, out of range. We regrouped at the start of the Moonlight Track in Arthurs Point, with a few extra additions from the morning crew. As we set out, we realised that only one of us had been on this track, despite it being so accessible. This is one of many reasons why we love Queenstown; there is an inexhaustible list of adventures to be had.

 

The Moonlight Track joins Arthurs Point and Moke Lake. It clings to the side of the peaks towering above, looking over the Shotover River.  The Track is well-defined but singletrack and uphill in some sections to give that sense of challenge that we love to feel in the mountains. The vibe is laid back with lots of quality conversation and laughs. As golden hour approached, we veered off the track and climbed up to a large rock shelf. From here, we had 360-degree views of layers of mountains and ridgelines that tumbled down to the river. It had been cloudy all day with rain blowing in and out.

 

We weren’t expecting anything spectacular for sunset so when sun rays suddenly sliced through and set the ridgelines aglow, there was a collective gasp of wonder. We each took a moment to ourselves to let it all sink in.

 

 

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NEED TO KNOW:

The Moonlight Track is not a loop and this is probably why it is not hiked as much as it deserves. It is possible to get to the trailhead in Arthur’s Point by public transport but not possible to return to town from Moke Lake without a car. The easiest option, therefore, is to arrange a car shuttle and park one car at each trailhead. Note that there is no phone reception at Moke Lake so if that is your endpoint, you will definitely need to have pre-arranged transport unless you want to have a go at hitchhiking!

WHAT TO WEAR:

This track is exposed; pack layers and a windproof, water-resistant jacket. The Escape and Explore Tee and Escape and Explore Tight will keep you covered but cool with its sweat-wicking, anti-stink materials whilst the Escape and Explore Rain Jacket will protect you from the elements.

We came down from the mountains and rolled back into town to refuel after a long, adventurous day. Though we were physically back down, we were definitely still feeling up - wilderness makes you better and we are grateful to have so much of it in Queenstown, both explored and off the beaten track.

 

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