New Zealand Destinations: Nelson Lakes National Park


The next destination in our New Zealand sojourn for 2013 was the town of St Arnaud. Its location is a prime position to base tramping in the area, particularly around Lake Rotoiti. Many photographers know the region for its iconic jetty images but the area as so much more to offer. The main emphasis of this article will be a write up of a few hiking possibilities in the area.

The town itself has a general store with necessities but little in the way of choice. There is also petrol and an ATM located in the same facility. We stayed at a lovely three bedroom rental house for what we thought was a more than reasonable price of 130 NZD nightly. From there, I went hiking to Lake Angelus while Marianne kindly took Charlotte for some of the shorter walks around the lake side. Lake Rotoiti is the more popular of the two locations but Lake Rotoroa 30km drive away is just as pristine and serene.

The following map is marked with a few pointers about doing a walk to Angelus hut.

Lake Rotoiti and surrounds

Lake Rotoiti and surrounds

  1. The starting point for most walkers is the Mount Robert car park. If you do not have transport arranged, there is mobile coverage there to ring a bus service in town. There are also many day hike options branching from there
  2. Robert Ridge: This is an incredible ridgeline walk which gives views over barren tarns and deep valleys. It is also highly exposed and it is very advisable to check the weather forecast immediately before taking this route. I managed to walk it in 4 hours in my haste to get out of the gale force winds which were giving a windchill of -23 degrees. The weather gets even worse up there!

    Tarns and steep dropoffs along the ridgeline route

    Tarns and steep dropoffs along the ridgeline route

  3. Angelus hut is located at the base of a cauldron of mountains with sharp drop off leading to endless cascades. An incredible location which is the base of many other walks branching out to surrounding saddles and peaks. By the time I arrived, there were westerly gales at zero degrees with horizontal torrential rain. Those of us who arrived were glad for the sturdiness of the hut. In the peak season from November to April, a booking is essential as the hut is very popular.

    Dawn near Angelus hut

    Dawn near Angelus hut

  4. Cascade Track: This is one of the other options to and from Lake Angelus. It is very steep and slippery but the scenery is something to savour. I could have stopped every few minutes to take photographs of the cascades as they tumble through rocky outcrops, open heath , beech forests and eventually pour into Lake Rotoiti’s outlet. I didn’t take the ‘Speargrass’ route option but would recommend this one. The only disadvantage is that it results in a longer walk back to St Arnaud.

    The aptly named Cascade Trail.

    The aptly named Cascade Trail.

  5. Coldwater hut. If the cascade track to Coldwater hut has tired you out, you can spend the night in this hut on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. Most of the striking scenery is behind you though and most of the remaining walk is flat and not as dramatic
  6. Whisky Falls. By the time I reached this location on my way out, I had gone through 3 sandwiches , 3 instant noodle packets, 1 250g block of chocolate and 6 muesli bars during my time there. It wasn’t enough, so I took a few shots and walked on out to the exit point 1 hour away. I never seem to learn – pack more than enough food, especially when the conditions are meant to be chilly. These falls are accessible as a day walk from a car park on the way to Mount Robert

    Whisky Falls

    Whisky Falls

  7. Kerr Bay is the home to two jetties. As a photographic tip, I think the jetty from the camp site (rather than the main driveway) offers a better view of the distant mountains. There are also numerous short walks in the area such the ‘Honeydew walk’.

    Honeydew walk

    Honeydew walk

Despite the conditions encountered, Angelus hut has well and truly been etched into my future plans for walking holidays. The mind boggles as to what it could look like in different conditions.

Today, we left St Arnaud’s to only the second blue sky day of our trip. We are currently in Kaikoura for our last stop in New Zealand for 2013. Perhaps we will be back next year in the North Island but for now, we will enjoy the last 2 days appreciating the scenery, wildlife and seafood that this town has to offer. Until the next update!

-D

Bye for now Lake Rotoiti!

Bye for now Lake Rotoiti!

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Posted on April 28, 2013, in How we..., New Zealand, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Andrew Burgess

    You really get he most out of your holidays. Great work.

  2. Terry Williams

    fabulous images guys you do great work…even on holiday.

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