The Upper Clutha track above the Clutha River, near Wanaka
Airport. Photos my John Fridd/ Mark Goodwin.
We're back in the Wanaka district for the final of our
Summer Times bike rides. This is because Wanaka has so many new
tracks I couldn't fit them into one article.
In my first article, I explored the Upper Clutha section of
the 3000km Cape Reinga-Bluff Te Araroa trail. One of today's
rides is being incorporated into another significant new
walk/ride, the Mighty Clutha River Trail.
A hillclimb on the Deans Bank track.
This trail, also known as the the Clutha Mata-Au River
Parkway, will follow the Clutha River from its outlet near
Wanaka 338km to the Pacific Ocean, near Kaka Point.
Just as with Te Araroa, there is still lots to do before this
trail is finished, but again the resourceful Upper Clutha
district has its section virtually completed and that's what
we'll explore today.
Find your way out to the Lake Wanaka outlet (from the Wanaka
central business district, bike out on the lakeside trail) or
drive there on Beacon Point Rd.
Start pedalling down the trail beside the mighty Clutha,
imagining how it will be when you can bike all the way to the
ocean. The outlet track is a special place, as it's the only
track in New Zealand which is part of both the Te Araroa trail
and the Mighty Clutha River Trail.
Soon you'll arrive at Albert Town. Cross over the state
highway near the bridge, bike along the street by the river
and pick up the track again. This soon leaves the Clutha and
heads up beside the Cardrona River for a short distance, to
cross Pawson's Crossing bridge.
Soon, the track starts climbing up and over the Halliday
Bluffs and you'll need reasonable fitness to ride all this
Before too long, you'll be up on the river terrace, which
allows great vistas over New Zealand's biggest river. The
undulating track has a variety of surfaces from gravel to
clay and some sections get a little soft if the season has
The trail winds through kanuka stands, willow trees and open
areas and a Wanaka rider tells me it has become a favourite
with many riders, because it has a bit of everything.
About 15km from Albert Town, you'll arrive at the Red Bridge
across the Clutha. Cross the highway to pick up a short track
that takes you down beside the river to a spectacular bend in
the Clutha, the Devil's Nook.
Unfortunately, this is as far as the Mighty Clutha River
Trail goes for now, but you can keep riding.
Near the Devil's Nook, you'll see a wooden arch bridge
marking the start of a new track up to Luggate township just
south of here.
This 2km track winds up into rocky country above Luggate
Creek and finishes at a new subdivision on the outskirts of
If you are hungry and/or thirsty, the Luggate Hotel awaits.
From Luggate, you can join your pick-up driver or bike back
along the trail to your starting point, enjoying the great
views to the Southern Alps.
Deans Bank Track
This 11.5km loop is the place to go if you want some fun on
your bike close to Wanaka. Built by the proactive Bike Wanaka
club on conservation land, it includes twisty downhills
through forest and scrub areas, grunty climbs and sweeping
corners, with some great views over the nearby Clutha River
and Lake Wanaka.
It's mainly for intermediate or expert riders, but the
trickier sections have bypasses for the more conservative
To get to Deans Bank from Wanaka, cross the Clutha bridge at
Albert Town and immediately turn left into the camping area.
Look for the sign to Deans Bank and note this is a
directional track, so you're only supposed to ride one way. A
video on the Bike Wanaka website gives a good idea what the
track is like.
• More info on Wanaka tracks at these websites:
Upper Clutha Tracks Trust:
Te Araroa NZ trail: www.teararoa.org.nz/otago/
Mighty Clutha River Trail:
At a glance
Distance: Lake Wanaka outlet to Luggate, 21km. Deans
Bank loop 11.5km.
Main climb: 100m (Halliday Bluffs).
Estimated riding time without stops: Outlet to
Luggate, 1 hours. Deans Bank, 50min per lap.