Short walks around St Arnaud and the Nelson Lakes area
Lake Rotoiti short walks
Black Valley walk: 30 min This delightful, easy walk begins at Kerr Bay and follows the Black Valley Stream through beech forest. The track runs parallel to State Highway 63 and has three entry/exit points along the way that lead off to the Rotoiti Chapel, the village store and to Bridge Street.
You can see the benefit of the restoration work that the Department of Conservation and many volunteers have carried out beside this lovely stream, including banding some of the trees with metal strips. This is to prevent possums from climbing them to destroy the native mistletoe that grows in their crowns.
Bellbird Walk: 15 min This is one of the walks developed to showcase the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project area, one of the Department of Conservation's major projects. It aims to create a sanctuary ("mainland island") with fewer pests in the honeydew beech forests beside Lake Rotoiti.
The track has been built to wheelchair standard. Begin at the car park near the east jetty at Kerr Bay. Allow 10 minutes walking time for this short walk and longer if you want to read the six interpretation panels along the way.
Honeydew Walk: 45 min This walk is accessed by first walking part of the Bellbird Walk, which begins at the car park near the east jetty at Kerr Bay. There are 10 interpretation panels along the way (including the Bellbird Walk panels) that provide information on the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project. Allow 35 minutes walking time for this, plus 10 minutes to read the interpretation panels.
Loop Track: 1 hr 30 min This walk will take you well into the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project area. It starts with the Bellbird track, before turning left to follow the St Arnaud Range/Loop track. From here, the track loops back on to the Lakehead track which returns to the car park.
Peninsula Nature Walk: 1 hr 30 min Beginning at the west side of Kerr Bay, this walk follows the peninsula around to West Bay, crossing the Alpine fault twice, and returning via Baxter Street and View Road. For a longer walk ( 2hr 30 min), continue to the next junction and turn right, returning to Kerr Bay via Rotoiti Lodge. This walk has a good variety of native plants and several easy access points to the lake shore.
Black Hill Walk: 1 hr 30 min The Black Hill Walk begins at the Rotoiti Lodge and climbs through beech forest and stands of manuka and kanuka onto Black Hill, a solid mound of volcanic rock that resisted the erosive powers of past glaciers. Near the top is a clearing from which Lake Rotoiti, St Arnaud and Big Bush can be viewed. The track descends steeply to the highway and follows it back to the Rotoiti Lodge Road.
Moraine Walk: 1 hr 30 min This walk begins at the junction of State Highway 63 and the Rotoiti Lodge Road and winds around the base of Black Hill, over piles of moraine debris left by the ancient Travers Glacier, and past kettle ponds created when blocks of ice surrounded by glacial gravel melted away. The forest type along this walk is predominately manuka and kanuka. The walk goes through the West Bay campground and on to the Buller River.
Anglers Walk: 1 hr The Anglers Walk track begins by the Buller Bridge in West Bay and follows the river bank where there are several good spots for fishing. This walk makes a pleasant extension to the Moraine Walk and the circuit can be completed by returning along State Highway 63.
Lake Rotoiti day walks
West Bay, Lake Rotoiti
Whisky Falls: 5 hr return Take the Lakeside Track from the Mount Robert Road and head along the western shore of the lake. The track will take you through forests of manuka/kanuka and then lead into beech. There are several shingle fans to cross before reaching Whisky Falls. The falls are almost 40 metres high and thick walls of moss and ferns thrive in the damp atmosphere. They were named for the remains of an illicit still found on the site in the 1880s.
St Arnaud Range Track: 5 hr return The track begins in the eastern corner of Kerr Bay and climbs steadily through beech forest to a height of over 1650 metres. Above the bushline, there are spectacular views from Parachute Rocks (named because of a parachute-shaped gravel scree located just to the north). The track climbs from here to the ridge line, where you can look out across alpine tarns and basins to the Wairau Valley beyond. Higher still are alpine herbfields, which will treat you to a glorious display of gold and white when the herbs flower in late spring and early summer.
Lake Rotoiti Circuit: 7-10 hr return The track begins in Kerr Bay and continues along the Lakehead Track around the eastern shore, reaching Lakehead Hut after about three hours walking. You may be able to cross here to follow the route to Coldwater Hut, depending on the height of the Travers River; otherwise there is a swing bridge located 1.5 hours further up the Travers Valley. From Coldwater Hut at the lake edge, the track returns along the Lakeside Track, passing by Whisky Falls and then continues on to the Mount Robert Road and West Bay. Beech forest towers over a carpet of vivid green mosses and ferns for much of the walk. In summer, beautiful red rata flowers are a visual treat. A rare stand of rimu trees can be seen on the eastern shore, about two-thirds of the way to Lakehead Hut. Tui and bellbirds are the most numerous and vocal birds encountered along this walk and you may encounter native insectivorous forest birds as well, such as the fantail, tomtit and bush robin. If you are fortunate, you may also hear or sight the noisy kaka (forest parrot) along the way.
Mount Robert: 5 hr return This loop track takes you around the northern face of Mount Robert. You can start this walk from either the Pinchgut Track, which begins at the Mount Robert car park, or Paddy's Track, which starts 500 metres before the Pinchgut Track on the Mount Robert Road. The Pinchgut Track zigzags up the steep, bare face of Mount Robert on a well-graded track before entering beech forest. Bush Edge Shelter is located where forest gives way to alpine herbs and shrubs. From here, the track continues across the open ridge top. Alternatively, the walk can be started using Paddy's track, which cuts across the mountain's open face and crosses several scree-filled gullies, before climbing to Bushline Hut. To complete the circuit, a track across the ridge top links both Pinchgut and Paddy's Tracks.
Lake Rotoroa short walks
The Short Loop Track (image N Morrell)
Flower Brothers Walk: 15 min This short walk is located at the northern end of the Lake, between the foreshore and the outlet. Flower Brothers Walk commences to the right of the carpark and jetty and passes through a stand of kahikatea-dominated podocarp/beech forest before following around the lake outlet to the beginning of the Gowan River.
Short Loop Track: 25 min This track starts at the picnic area near the lake and proceeds along the Lakeside Track for about 10 minutes before branching off to the left onto the loop section. It returns to the picnic area via the start of the Porika Track. The gentle nature of this ramble is a botanist's delight. Of all the short walks in the park, this one contains the greatest variety of tall forest trees, shrubs, climbing vines mosses and particularly ferns. Here, the beech/podocarp forest found around the Lake is at its most diverse.
Braeburn Walk: 2 hr return The Braeburn Walk leads through a diverse remnant of beech-podocarp forest, rich in bird life, along a wide and well-graded track to a picturesque mossy waterfall. The track starts from the Braeburn Road, 200 metres from the Gowan Bridge.
Porika Lookout Track: 1½ or 3 hr return The Porika Lookout Track heads up onto the northern end of the Muntz Range, which runs along the eastern side of Lake Rotoroa. From here, a spectacular view can be gained of the Lake and the surrounding bush-clad, bare-topped mountain ranges. The track begins at the parking area on the road which branches left, after passing the Rotoroa Lodge. Alternatively, begin at the picnic area and walk a short way (10 minutes) along the Lakeside Track, then take the Short Loop Track to meet the Porika Track. This option passes through a delightful area of mixed beech-podocarp forest with an impressive variety of ferns, mosses, shrubs and tall forest trees.
Soon after leaving the parking area, the four wheel drive track, which is used to service the power transmission lines, climbs steeply through the beech forest in a series of zigzags to the lookout points.
For a more interesting round trip, the walk over the historic Porika Track, which branches off to the left after about 15 to 20 minutes, is the recommended option. Allow about three hours for the longer round trip and 1.5 hours for the shorter return walk on the four wheel drive track.
Tracey Grose Secretary PO Box 3 St Arnaud TASMAN 7053 New Zealand