The Nelson Lakes National Park
Where is it?
Located inland south of Nelson and Blenheim. Separate valleys gauged out by glaciers in the last ice age and these troughs are now Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa. The surrounding mountains are the northern most ranges of the magnificent South Island Southern Alps chain.
How to get there ?
The Park is about an hour and a half on sealed roads from Nelson and Blenheim. It can also be accessed via the Lewis Pass highway that runs north from the South Island’s biggest city, Christchurch. That trip will take you around 5 hours one way through some stunning often bush clad country.
Why go there and what is there to do?
Frankly the answer to this, is why not ? The little alpine village of St. Arnaud is cute, friendly, well serviced and right by Lake Rotoiti. Lake Rotoroa by contrast is a little quieter though does have a campsite and relevant facilities.
Get your hiking boots on cos the area is riddled with greater and lesser walks, excellent backpacking as well alpine routes and climbing challenges. The infamous and well named Pinchgut track is a must for all who think they’re fit enough, though be warned, it’s exactly as the name suggests so be sure to check the weather and know your limits.
There’s great hunting of red deer and chamois ( pron. shamwa ) excellent skiing in season, as well as all manner of water sports, though there are some restrictions on swimming and jetskis are prohibited. Mountain biking and 4WD off roading is popular too.