The wonderful landscape of the park was sculpted by giant glaciers during the most recent ice age and many of the glacial landforms remain, including the two large lakes, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa as well as a number of valleys, including the Travers, Sabine, and D’Urville, and mountain ranges, such as the Saint Arnaud Range and Mount Robert.
The park is a very popular destination for camping, hiking, and fishing.
Nelson Lakes National Park: What to do
The primary attractions in Nelson Lakes National Park are the walking tracks. The park is home to a large network of walking tracks that allow visitors to explore and experience everything the park has to offer.
Whether you are a novice level hiker looking for an easy walk where they can take in the lakes or an advanced hiker looking for a challenging multi-day excursion, there is something for you at Nelson Lakes National Park.
Nelson Lakes National Park: Lake Rotoiti Short Walks
Visitors looking for an easier, more relaxing walking experience will enjoy the Lake Rotoiti short walks.
There are a number of shorter, easier trails around the lake that allow visitors the chance to take in the lake’s natural scenery was well as the wildlife in the area.
The Bellbrid Walk is wheelchair accessible and leads right into the Honeydew Walk. These walks will take visitors by the lake and through an area where they can see and hear the korimako/bellbirds and tui that are commonly found in the area.
There is also the Anglers Walk, which starts on the Buller River Bridge on Mount Robert Road.
This walk will takes visitors to some excellent fishing spots on the northern bank of the lake.
Nelson Lakes National Park: Travers – Sabine Circuit
The Travers – Sabine Circuit is an extremely popular longer walk located in Nelson Lakes National Park. It is a medium – to – hard walk that traverses around 80 kilometres of river valleys as well as an alpine pass.
This walk will allow visitors the change to experience all of the different terrain in the park as they pass through calm beech forests, meander through fields of tussock, climb 2,000m high mountains, and amble along streams with crystal clear rushing water.
Most people require 4-7 days to complete this walk. Those hopint to walk this trail should be aware that it requires the crossing of Travers Saddle, which is an alpine pass that can experience freezing conditions year round.
Additionally, while most of the rivers and streams you might encounter along the way are bridged, there are a number that might not be safe to cross after a period of heavy rain.
As such, walkers should keep close tabs on the weather when planning their trip along the track. The walk up to Lake Angelus is a popular side trip off the Travers – Sabine Track.
Of course, walking isn’t the only activity in Nelson Lakes National Park. The park also offers some truly wonderful trout fishing.
There is a 1920s fishing lodge at Lake Rotoroa that serves as an excellent base for those looking to spend their time in the park pursuing Nelson Lake’s legendary brown trout.
There is also skiing within the park. High above the village of St. Arnaud is the Rainbow Skifield, which offers a huge array of terrain for both skiers and snowboarders.
While the snow is not all natural, there is a snow maker that makes snow through the night, the Rainbow Skifield is still a great place to enjoy a day, “out on the slopes.”
Nelson Lakes National Park: Accommodation
Between the park itself and the nearby village of St. Arnaud there are a number of accommodation options including motels, family cottages, and a modern lodge.
The village of St. Arnaud also has authentic log chalets that make for a very comfortable home base during your stay in the park. There are also a few campgrounds throughout the park.
Nelson Lakes National Park Traveling from Abroad?
Nelson Lakes National Park is located around 90 kilometres away from the town of Nelson. The town of Nelson is serviced by Nelson Airport, which is primarily a domestic airport.
The airport receives flights from Auckland, Blenheim, Chirstchurch, Kapiti Coast, Palmerston North, and Wellington.