Nelson Lakes National Park

More information is available at the DOC website.. Click Here.


Nelson Lakes are centred at the northern end of the Southern Alps. Road access is to its northern perimeter, by way of Blenheim (east coast) on Highway 63, or from WestPort (west coast) via Highway 6 then 63.

St Arnaud is the nearest town with facilities to the National Park. Rainbow Valley skifield is located a short distance from St Arnaud.


Nelson Lakes National Park is a mountainous landscape. It has been formed by a combination of heavy glaciation, and fault line thrusting (the Alpine Fault passes through Lake Rotoroa enroute to Tasman Bay).

Deep glacial valleys, filled by beautiful lakes, alpine vegetation, snow capped peaks would be an apt description of the National Park.

St Arnaud is the gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park. From this alpine village on the shores of Lake Rotoiti, a network of trails explore the lake edge and the park's glacial features and tranquil beech forests. Tramping in the Park is excellent, many routes traverse the range of mountains, and dive deep into the water filled valleys.


For those who seek an easy stroll, several pleasant short walks are available...

Black Valley (30min) - Glacial deposits, forest, stream canyon

Peninisula Nature Walk (1hr 30min) - Alpine Fault, Native Plants, Lake shore

Black Hill (1hr 30min) - Kanuka & manuka stands, Beech Forest, Volcanic Rock Mound, views.

Moraine Walk (1hr 30min) - Glacial Moraine Piles, Traverse around Black Hill, "Kettle Ponds"

Anglers Walk (1hr 30min) - Buller River, Forest

Loop Track (1hr 30min) - Rock Terraces, Lake Rotoiti


For those with more time & energy, several rewarding full-day walks begin at Saint Arnaud...

Mount Robert (5hr return) - Spectacular Views, Forest, Shelter & Hut

St Arnaud Range (5hr return) - Beech Forest, Spectacular Views

Lake Rotoiti Circuit (6-9hr) - The Lake, Huts, Travers River, Swingbridge crossing

Whisky Falls (5hr return) - Manuka & Beech Forest, beautiful 40m waterfall


Tramping in the Nelson Lakes area is some of the best, and most scenic "raw" walks in the South Island (apart from Arthur's Pass ofcourse). There is not room here to describe them in detail, however look for such tramps as Travers Valley, Lake Angelus, Mount Angelus, Travers Saddle and Matakitaki Valley as being some of its delights.

From May to October alpine tramping experience is absolutely necessary!!!!!!!



St Arnaud has a good cross-section of accommodation styles - with lodges, homestays, budget backpacker, B & B, and the National Park Camp being available.


St Arnaud is a little bigger than Arthur's Pass Village, but services are still limited. Groceries are expensive, and banking may not be possible. The National Park Visitor Centre is in St Arnaud.

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