Off the Beaten Track to... Nelson Lakes
During the last Ice Age massive glaciers created troughs in the mountainous headwaters of the Buller River. Today these troughs are filled by Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa, the largest lakes in the area.
The lakes are surrounded by craggy mountains covered in beech, with the red and silver species growing in lower, warmer sites and mountain beech at higher altitudes. You'll probably notice an abrupt change in the vegetation at the bush line though, as forest gives way to alpine plants. This is a unique feature of the park.
As you walk or hike through the park, you may notice the tiny rifleman in the trees, this charming little creature is New Zealand's smallest bird. Another feature to look out for in the park is the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project, which aims to create a pest-free refuge for native species in the honeydew beech forests beside Lake Rotoiti.
Things To Do
- Lake Rotoiti Short Walks – From the St Arnaud visitor centre, you can get information about the local short walks: Anglers Walk, Bellbird Walk, Black Hill Walk, Black Valley Walk, Brunner Peninsula Nature Walk, Honeydew Walk, Moraine Walk and Loop Track.
- Travers-Sabine Circuit - The 80 kilometre Travers–Sabine Circuit reaches deep into the heart of the mountains of Nelson Lakes National Park. Requiring 4-7 days and a good level of fitness to complete, this tramping circuit features tranquil beech forests, fields of waving tussocks, 2,000-metre-high mountains and clear rushing streams are highlights.
- Angelus Hut and Tracks – It's a challenging climb to the hut at 1650 metres especially in winter, as Lake Angelus freezes over and you may have to dig your way through snow to the hut. However, the hut is a comfortable refuge and sited in a grand landscape. Good hiking fitness is required.
- Hunting - Good red deer and chamois hunting can be had in the Nelson Lakes area. Pigs and feral goats are also present in some locations. Permits are required for those hunting with rifles, bows or dogs.
To help plan your holiday itinerary in the Nelson Lakes area, simply choose from the main categories below: