Situated in the northernmost ranges of the Southern Alps of South Island, New Zealand, Nelson Lakes National Park enchants visitors of its lush valleys, beech forests, streams and rivers. The main attractions of this national park are the breathtaking Southern Alpine mountains and crystal clear lakes. The lakes in Nelson have mythological stories explaining their origin. This is a reflection of the native’s respect and high regard accorded these bodies of water.
The alpine lake of Rotoroa also makes an amazing resting place while exploring this more than 100,000 hectare national park. You can choose to stay at this lake area as it has a basic camping site and a fishing lodge, which was built in the 1920s. This lake area is also pursued by anglers because of its abundant population of brown trout.
The gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park is the picturesque alpine village of St Arnaud. This lovely community, which sits on Lake Rotoiti, makes an ideal base as it is well-equipped with accommodation and other tourist infrastructure. Nelson National Park is well known as a hiking mecca. Aside from short and long tracks that loop around the lake, there are also ones that go deep into native beech forests. One of the more challenging hiking routes includes the Lake Angelus loop, which can take 3 days to complete; and the 5-day Travers-Sabine circuit, which highlights an alpine pass, soaring peaks, and secluded lakes.
You can also begin your hiking adventure at St Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti’s vicinity. The edge of the lake features a number of tracks, which are perfect for both long distance and short walks. The hiking experience around St Arnaud is made even memorable by the glacial characteristics of the park. If you are looking for places to enjoy nature in silence, seek out the remote mountain passes within the national park.
Before you embark in a hiking journey, make sure to pack the essentials like water, insect repellent and sun protection. Sturdy footwear and warmer clothing are always recommended as the weather in these parts can change drastically. Some hiking routes are not too difficult but they do require a good level of cardio fitness which will make the journey more comfortable and enjoyable.
Aside from hiking, there are other activities that are readily available in Nelson Lakes National Park. During winter, ice skating, snowshoeing and tramping are particularly popular activities. And the park’s spectacular lakes are great for fishing, boating, bird watching and certain water sports. During winter the park becomes a spectacular outdoor sports destination. A little more than 25 kilometers from St. Arnaud lies the Rainbow Ski Area, a renowned spot for skiing and snowboarding. Rainbow Ski Area is easily accessible from St Arnaud through a regular shuttle bus service. Whichever season it may be, Nelson Lakes National Park is an excellent getaway spot year round.
If you feel like getting closer to nature, you can get accommodation within the park area. The Department of Conservation has set up various huts for hikers and visitors. Huts, which are classified as basic and standard are very limited in terms of services and facilities, but they have essentials like a water supply, toilets and mattresses. There are also serviced huts, which have more modern amenities such as sleeping mattresses, water supply, heating, toilet, washing and cooking equipment.