Nelson Lakes NP


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Published: June 10th 2018
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Arriving in St Arnaud, another small town - hamlet? - in the 'wop wops' was stunning. Beautifully designed houses set among trees, towering hills or mountains as their backdrop and just a stone's throw from Lake Rotoiti. While there had been no fresh for several days, the peaks were still snowy and highlighted in white.

It was very windy; then, it got stronger overnight! We had left a cosy 18C in Marahau, now it was just 4C. Our choice of walk for the day was dictated by our kit and the snowline; the anticipated 5 hour round trip of Mount Robert wasn't to be. So choosing a lower route through bush at first, then taking the trail up the mountain to detour, was actually a great find. The route opened up to views back over the lake and St Arnaud, and up into the snowy hills too. The temperatures, with windchill, were forecast to be -16 today! The wind appeared to have gained strength over the morning too, as rounding a corner to the next valley, the smaller of the two of us was lent at 45 degrees just to stand up. With a shear drop to our left and a track just one person wide, this seemed a sensible point to turn back.

The scenery here is some of creation's best. Hanging valleys, ten maybe twelve side by sides define the town itself - these valleys hosted glaciers in years gone by, all of which were truncated by one larger glacier taking its route through what is now the valley floor. Climbing above the village, the views take your eyes to Kahurangi NP, with much bigger, snowier peaks. There is so much walking to be had in this, Nelson Lakes NP, as well as Kahurangi NP - it is now a must to return here in Summer!

Driving out of the park - a two and a half hour scenic drive following the Buller river, through gorges and farmland, out to the sea - we settled upon our spot for the night, a town called Westport. Another peaceful freedom camp spot right on the sad of North Beach was a just perfect, and of course, deserved another early morning walk among the drift wood and windswept sands.


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