The Nelson Lakes National Park is a one hour drive from Nelson and offers some wonderful outdoor experiences.   Two magnificent glacial lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa, are the largest lakes in the area and are the focal points for visits to the area.  These lakes were formed after the last ice age and reside in the bottom of mountainous valleys.  There are both beautiful day walks and multi-day hiking tracks available in the National Park.

Early in October 2018, while there was still snow covering the tops of the peaks in the area, I went on a two and a half day trek through one of the stunning parts of the park.  I was accompanied by an experienced alpine hiker and climber.

The trip was made shorter by taking a boat across Lake Rotoiti from Kerr Bay to Coldwater Hut, located at the southern end of the lake adjacent to the entrance point of the Travers River into Lake Rotoiti.  From there we tramped up the Travers River track and took the Hopeless Track up to the Hopeless Hut.  That involved a moderate climb from the lake shore at 600m up to Hopeless Hut at 1063m.  The first night was spent in Hopeless Hut, and from then the more arduous part of the tramp started.  Day two involved tramping off-track up the Hopeless Creek Valley.  Then up some steep faces at the end of the valley to several lovely tarns.  Past the tarns there was a gradual climb up to the sunset saddle, which sits at 1,900 m.  The weather was glorious, so packs were left at the sunset saddle and a side-trip up to the summit of Angelus Peak (2,075 m) was made.  The summit views were simply outstanding and showcased Lake Rotoroa, Lake Angelus and the DOC hut there, the valley through to Tasman bay in the distance and the magnificence of the Southern Alps.

The descent off Angelus Peak back to the sunset saddle was easy going.  Thereafter down to Angelus Hut (at 1,650 m) became more difficult as the snow was quite slushy and each step involved sinking down to calf to thigh areas.  The hut was a welcome respite from the difficult walking!  Other hikers were already there and had the fire cranked up.  They also provided us with a warm drink which was thankfully accepted!  We had been hoping to capture some nights shots of the Milky Way, but the weather didn’t play ball with clouds rolling in soon after we arrived at the hut.  That allowed for a sunset show as the clouds moved over the mountain, but apart from a small time window obscured the stars during the night.

The last day was down the Cascade Track.  It looked easy on paper, but was quite an effort as again the snow was soft and slushy.  Several times we disappeared into holes beside unseen hidden rocks or water courses.  The track became no easier after we departed the snow with the track navigating some steep rocky areas.  The total descent back down to Coldwater Hut was just over 1,000 m, which was sufficient to cause sore knees and thigh’s!

The track taken over the three days is shown on the topographical map below:


Over the two and a half days several thousands images were collected to enable 360-degree panoramas to be constructed, along with various still shots.  The tour below shows parts of effort walking through the stunning Nelson Lakes National Park.