Moonlight Valley & Ben Lomond Backcountry Hike

Moonlight Valley & Ben Lomond Backcountry Hike

Trip Highlights

  • Relax in the comfort and beautiful setting of Moonlight Lodge
  • Exclusive backcountry hike on a private station
  • Hike beneath mountains, over golden tussock ridges and through native beech forests
  • Overnight wilderness camping with views of Skippers Canyon
  • Scenic jetboat transfer up the Shotover River
  • Explore goldmining history and alpine flora and fauna
  • Heli-hike to the dominant peak of Ben Lomond
  • Summit Ben Lomond (1748m) with views over Lake Wakatipu
  • Learn about NZ high country life from station owners John and Ginny Foster

Trip Summary

This exclusive five day walk is a fabulous way to experience the rugged ranges behind Queenstown within the high country property of Ben Lomond Station. The walk extends through a variety of spectacular landscapes from tussock ridgelines high above the Shotover River to a heli-hike along the sub-alpine flanks of Ben Lomond (1748m). You will explore abandoned gold mining relics, water races, razorback ridges, beautiful beech forests, and river valleys right until the finish with an optional summit of Ben Lomond (1748m).

Accommodation is in the well appointed Moonlight Lodge where the comfortable lounge room has views of nearby peaks and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the delicious three course meals and kiwi-hospitality from the Foster Family who own the station.

The walking experience is completed by spending a night wilderness camping on a secluded spot in the Shotover Canyon then a utilising a jetboat for a scenic upriver transfer which gives access to remote trails.

Trip Grading

To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the walking trails, daily climbing and descending and the duration of the trip. While part of this itinerary does utilise formed trails, you must be comfortable walking across technical terrain including rocks and boulders, slippery tree roots, scree slopes and tussock. There are some unbridged streams and rivers to cross and some steep rocky hillsides to scramble up and down. This itinerary requires good fitness, balance, coordination and a good head for heights.

The sense of isolation and wilderness is a strong feature of this trip. For you to be able to really enjoy this trip we recommend that you are confident walking across uneven terrain and are able to walk comfortably for multiple hours at a time (breaks included) with plenty of uphill.


We will collect you from a central city pick up point in Queenstown around 09:00am. We drive a short distance to the Moonlight Track trail head to commence todays walk. The Shotover Valley was an early Maori trading route to the West Coast which then became the site of one of the world's most significant 19th century gold strikes. A narrow but well defined trail follows one of the most dramatic and scenic valleys in the Wakatipu Basin. The walk initially traverses high above the Shotover River, once called "the richest river in the world". Our route descends into the old gold mining settlement of Sefferstown which was a gold rush tent village with over 3,000 occupants at its peak in 1863. Named from its occupation by the large Seffers family (of Crimean/Russian origin) and contained several stores, a hotel, post office and library. Following Moonlight Creek, the trail undulates beneath bluffs with views of soaring tussock covered ridges and native forest before coming to a plateau where the impressive Moonlight Lodge is located, overlooking sweeping tussock terraces and stunning beech forest. As day turns to night we savour the sun setting behind mountain silhouettes and a star-studded sky - one of the clearest and darkest skies in the southern hemisphere and enjoy a delicious meal prepared by our hosts, John and Ginny Foster. The lodge consists of comfortable double/twin ensuite rooms along with open plan lounge and dining areas (licensed bar) which are the perfect place to relax and enjoy the large stone fireplace and commanding views. Please Note: Tomorrow night we will be wilderness camping near to the historic Blue Jacket Hut. You will need to carry your clothing and personal items you require for one overnight and the following day. Tents and cooking equipment will be waiting onsite. Hiking distance: approx. 14km - Time: approx. 6hrs with breaks

Meals:  L,D

From the lodge we climb along a ridgeline which separates the Shotover River and Moonlight River valleys and offers breathtaking views of the Southern Alps. After lunch we drop off the ridge and descend via steep switchbacks to cross Blue Jacket Creek and follow a rough trail to our campsite, located on a terrace overlooking the Shotover River. 2 person tents will be supplied and meals will be prepared and enjoyed in the rustic hut before enjoying the 'star show' once the long evening night sky turns dark. Those who have paid for a single supplement will get their own tent. Please Note: There are no showers and the toilet is a traditional longdrop loo with a view! The hut is fully equipped for cooking, yet has no facilities for sleeping. It provides a homely and unique setting for our night in the outdoors. Hiking distance: approx. 11km - Time: approx. 8hrs with breaks

Meals:  B,L,D

An early morning breakfast prepared by our guides will fuel us for another day of hiking along the exclusive high country trails of Ben Lomond Station. We break camp and drop down to the Shotover River where a jetboat will be waiting to take us up river for a scenic and informative ride and give us an opportunity to see the river and canyons from a different perspective. We disembark at Maori Point which was one of the earliest and richest alluvial gold mining beaches in the Shotover Valley (1863). Its name reflects the finding of gold by two Maori prospectors, an uncommon record amongst the European-dominated mining sites. We follow trails back to Moonlight Lodge via the Stoney Creek water race. This spectacular water race was built nearly 150 years ago to carry water to the Skippers gold sluices and in places is carved out of sheer bluffs (fenced for your safety of course!). The majority of this part of the walk is on well-formed tracks, passing through native beech forests where the song of bird calls is clear. We return to Moonlight Lodge where a well deserved cold drink and shower awaits and can be enjoyed along with another delicious meal and warm hospitality from the Foster family. Does life in the mountains get any better? Hiking distance: approx. 13km - Time: approx. 7hrs with breaks

Meals:  B,L,D

Todays hike will take us deep into beech forests, exploring mountain streams and waterfalls. We discover the remnants of the gold mining times whilst walking along the historical water races and Moonlight Creek where a cooling swim is possible. After a picnic lunch we return to our accommodation where the remainder of the afternoon can be spent enjoying the comfortable surrounds of Moonlight Lodge and the mountain vistas. Hiking distance: approx. 7km - Time: approx. 4hrs with breaks

Meals:  B,L,D

After a final hearty breakfast, we farewell our hosts and leave Moonlight Lodge by helicopter. Todays hike and magical views have the potential to be the highlight of the trip. A heli-hike takes us trekking far from the valley floor and into the extraordinary sub-alpine environment of Ben Lomond (1748m). The skilled pilot will land us on the north west ridge of Ben Lomond and then we are left in silence. Depending on the prevailing weather and group ability, we will aim to walk through the tussocks up a broad ridgeline to the summit of Ben Lomond. From here there are awe-inspiring panoramas of Lake Wakatipu, the distant Remarkable and Richardson Ranges, along with the mountains and valleys we have been exploring over the past 4 days. We descend until we reach the Skyline Gondola, which provides a quick ride down into Queenstown and then a short walk to the central luggage collection point. A final drink together to celebrate our Moonlight adventure concludes the trip. Hiking distance: approx. 11km - Time: approx. 5 hrs Please Note: The flight is subject to weather conditions; if todays weather forecast is poor we will attempt to reschedule the helicopter to earlier in the itinerary - subject to availability.

Meals:  B,L

What's Included

  • Delicious home cooked meals (4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners)
  • 3 nights well appointed lodge with electricity and hot showers (twin share)
  • 1 night wilderness camping using a private mountain hut for meals (shared facilities)
  • 2 professional qualified hiking guides
  • Scenic jetboat transfer on day 2, heli-hike on day 5, Skyline Gondola descent on day 5 of tour
  • Luggage transfer (15kgs max) on day 1 and day 5
  • Snacks and water while hiking
  • Private vehicle transport to trail head
  • Packs and poles (on request if required) - please let our staff know in advance
  • Pre departure information kit to help you plan and prepare
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

What's Not Included

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure airport transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping mat for camping (can be rented, please let us know in advance)
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own drink bottle or hydration system)
  • Optional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, alcohol, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Tips

Upcoming Travel Dates



Duration:5 Days
Starting Point:Queenstown
Finishing Point:Queenstown
Wilderness Camping
Jet boating
Grade:Moderate to Challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:MSQ
Prices From:NZD$2995
Single Supplement:NZD$895