Nelson Lakes National Park is located in the Nelson region on the South Island of New Zealand. The park was formed in 1956 and covers 1,028 km². Within the park are two spectacular lakes, Lake Rotoiti (small lake) and Rotoroa (large lake). The park is a popular area for camping, tramping, fishing and skiing.
The stunning terrain of Nelson Lakes National Park was carved out by massive glaciers during the last ice age, many glacial landforms remain, lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa are the two most obvious examples. The park is bounded by the Braeburn and Muntz ranges to the northwest, Robert Range north, St. Arnaud Range east, and Ella Range on the west. The valleys are filled with native beech forests, which attract the abundant native bird life.
Walking, or hiking is popular in the park, with a handful of short walks that follow the bays and venture inside the forest. The St Arnaud Ridge Walk is a 5 hour round trip that will bring you to those spectacular views that you see on all of the brochures for the Nalson Region. There are abundant trout in the lakes, rivers and streams, including the giant brown trout. Most fishing spots are easily accessable by roads.
The Southern Alps of New Zealand are home to many superb ski areas. One of the most stunning is the Rainbow Ski Area near St Arnaud, in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Rainbow Ski Area gets regular winter snow, which is enhanced by its snow-making machines throughout the night, so you can have the best days skiing and snowboarding. Facing north and east, the ski-slopes get all day sunshine. Overlooking Nelson Lakes National Park with its extensive beech forest and beautiful Lake Rotoiti, the views from the top of the slopes are breathtaking. The wide slopes and well groomed trails provide excellent terrain for beginner and intermediates while advanced skiers can challenge themselves in the high powder runs and chutes. Boarders enjoy this terrain, which provides plenty of jumps and drops.
St Arnaud accommodation has a selection of hotels and motels, as well as two charming camping grounds. At Lake Rotoroa there is a fishing lodge and a camping ground.
We think it only fair to warn you of the local sand flys. They are quite large, as far as sand fly’s go, and can be very aggressive. Most insect repellents keep them away so don’t forget to take plenty with you into the park.
The park is administered by the Department of Conservation who operate the Visitors Centre at Saint Arnaud which provides up to date, reliable information on all aspects of the Nelson Lakes National Park.
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