Boulder Lake sits at very close to 1,000m altitude within the Kahurangi National Park. It is accessed via a DOC track that starts from close to Bainham in the Aorere River Valley. The track requires a good degree of fitness as it winds up from close to sea level to a high point of 1400m before dropping back down to the lake. The total length of the walk into the lake is 23 km and roughly the first 20 km are all uphill! The walk out from the lake is via the same track, unless the route over the Douglas Ranges is taken to the Cobb Valley. The walk back is somewhat easier given the majority is down.
The highpoint on the track goes across several steep scree slopes that have high bluffs associated with them. However, the track is well formed and was easy to navigate in December when no snow was around.
The first view of the lake is from the ridge line on the Brown Cow Summit. It is a glorious sight after the long grind up the track! There is an 8 bunk hut located on the southern end of the lake, close to a mountain stream that flows into the lake. The stream provides a good supply of fresh, and cold, water. The stream flows over a waterfall located right beside the hut. The roar of the water falling became thunderous in the still of night.
Even in early December the nighttime temperature was cold and dropped to freezing temperatures. Ice had formed on the deck outside of the hut overnight. The days, however, were very pleasant.
There are good day walks around the lake. The western shore line goes down to a magnificent waterfall that drains the lake into a deep valley, which eventually joins the Aorere River. Climbing the ridge line on the western flank of the lake also provides glorious views over the lake, the hut, and towards the Dragons Teeth Ranges in the Douglas Mountain Range.
Adelaide Tarn, another famous lake within the Kahurangi National Park is a 7 km walk from the hut.
The 360-panorama’s below show the stunning scenery around the lake.
The Starting point of the track is approximately 2.5 hours drive from Nelson. There is a small carpark and kiosk at the track beginning where a vehicle can be left.
The maps below show the location of the track within Golden Bay.