Once busy with gold miners and travellers on the Dunstan Trail, Moa Creek is the last stop before Poolburn Dam – Lord of the Rings country. An off-trail trip, turn off the road at Poolburn in the Ida Valley and head for the hills.
There is only one hotel at Moa Creek now (you can stay, but cater for yourself) and the old school building still stands.
Poolburn Dam can be reached by travelling further up the road (a 4WD vehicle would be useful). The craggy scenery and its isolation made it an obvious choice to star as the mythical city of Rohan in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Trout fishing is popular at the dam, and fishing huts were transformed into village houses for the movie.
It’s not really the end of the road here – if you are an “extreme sports ”fan you could do the last leg of the Dunstan Trail over the hills to Galloway on the Rail Trail. And if you want to take a step back in time (take a tent as there are no hotels, no food), follow the rugged Dunstan Trail in the other direction. You can escape partway by diverting down to Paerau, then Patearoa, and finally join the Trail at Waipiata. The full Dunstan Trail will take you to Clarks Junction, north of Middlemarch – and you will have missed most of the Rail Trail. Joining the annual Otago Goldfields Cavalcade on a horse might be easier!