In Focus: The Making of the Coronet Loop Trail

30/09/2021

With work on the Coronet Loop circuit expected to be complete this coming summer, we thought it would be good to share some updates on the project as excitement builds for the official opening.

This track is the culmination of over five years of hard work for the Queenstown Trails Trust in collaboration Soho Properties, QEII, Walking Access Commission and will provide one of the most spectacular overnight backcountry MTB rides in New Zealand. A total distance of (56km) will see riders depart Arrowtown and begin with a climb up the recently upgraded Bush Creek Track.

The Trust has funded the development of eight new bridges to keep feet and drive chains dry, as well as several trail realignments to ensure an easier climb and better flow for dual use. We were extremely fortunate to have the very generous support of Helibike NZ and Heliworks who provided the heli-time to fly in the bridge materials to exactly the right place for Elevate Trail Building to work their magic – nice work team!

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At the head of Bush Creek, the trail continues along the Coronet Face Water Race, which was the first part of the loop to be developed and was opened by the Queenstown Trails Trust and Soho Properties a couple of years ago. A descent line to Alan Reid’s Road provides a shortcut back down to the soon-to-be constructed Queenstown Trail between Arrowtown and Arthurs Point. Currently just a rough-cut digger track, we have future plans to upgrade this trail into a grade 4 descent, which will also provide a link to the Coronet Forest Recreational Reserve when logging is completed.

The Water Race Track weaves along the front face of Coronet Peak through remnant Beech Forest, passing old sections of flume pipe and the site of the old Racemans Hut at Station Creek. The Race was developed in the goldrush era, with water taken from McMullen and Station Creeks being channeled all the way across the front face of Mt Dewar to sluice the Shotover faces at Arthurs Point. The Trust is working with Origin Consultants on a restoration plan for the Racemans hut chimney to ensure it stands the test of time and is there for generations to come.

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Just before the 2-way climb to Skippers Saddle, the now famous Hot Rod Trail is an excellent excursion and must-do side trip for any keen mountain biker. Hot Rod was negotiated by the Queenstown Trails Trust and landowner 2 years ago, with construction half funded by QTT, half by QMTBC (via philanthropist Rod Drury) in a spectacularly successful collaboration. We are currently working on plans to develop a new downhill link directly into Hot Rod from Rude Rock, which will avoid the 2-way connector trail – with another team effort between QTT and QMTBC, we hope to bring this trail extension to you soon.

From the bottom of Hot Rod, a return to the Water Race is available on the Dan O’Connell Track, before climbing up and over into Skippers on the excellent ‘Tradesmans’ and ‘Pack, Track and Sack’. These trails got an awesome makeover last year from the QMTBC and were riding better than ever – certainly the descent into Long Gully is a real highlight of the circuit.

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At Baldersons Hut, a right-hand turn leads up and old farm track to Greengates saddle. This track will get re-worked once the loop is complete to make the climb more enjoyable; but it’s worth it – from the saddle a flowing downhill follows the historic pack track, past the restored historic Greengates Hut before it opens out high above Deep Creek overlooking the remains of the Old Greengates Hotel.

Before the Pinchers Bluff section was solved and the Skippers Road was completed, this was the original miner’s route to reach Skippers township, with the Greengates Hotel being the last stop before crossing Deep Creek and heading over the saddle to Stapletons Terrace. Legend has it that the Greengates Hotel spent its final years being run as a piggery, serving bacon sandwiches to weary miners heading in to make their fortune!

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The Coronet Loop Track continues upstream, over Picnic Rock with its amazing vistas before a long steady descent into Deep Creek, passing a couple of spectacular waterfalls on the way to the Golden Terraces visible in the distance. 

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The track sidles in and out of the Creek and up the ‘Willows Climb’ before crossing Parkers Creek and emerging onto the high plateau of Golden Terraces. This section gives a  stunning backcountry experience out here, linking sections of old pack track between the bluffs and interpreting the old mining ruins and water races as it passes.

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The terrain eases up a little before the Eight Mile Saddle, and passes beneath The Coronet Saddle Turk which is the final hut on the Mahu Whenua Traverse. The trail is constructed as far as Eight Mile (Coronet Creek), and the flagging team is now focused on starting at the Macetown Road end, where we will follow a water race up the true right to meet the track at the saddle.


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We’re also in the process of applying for the ultimate finish to the circuit, by linking a new climbing trail to Big Hill Saddle and following a purpose-built descent route below the walking track to meet with the old road formation, crossing Eichardt’s Flat and following a water race on the West side of German Hill to a flowing descent al the way back to Butlers Green!

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We can’t wait to share this trail with you, and we’re so fortunate that we’ve been able to facilitate its development. Massive thanks to Russel, Barry, Innis and Jo and team at Soho Properties, Rob from QEII, Ange from Walking Access Commission and Tom from Elevate Trail Building and a huge thank you to all of our Friend of the Trust supporters, your regular donations play a big part in enabling us to create this epic trail network in the district.

If you enjoy our trails and would like to help us build more, please show your support by becoming a Friend of the Queenstown Trails Trust today. All donations go back into making the Queenstown's trails even greater.

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