|TRAVERS VALLEY,NELSON LAKES|
A 4 day trip up and down the Travers Valley at the head of Lake Rotoiti with a side trip higher into the mountains. Blue lake, beech forest, birdsong and beautiful views.
We had initially planned to head high into the mountains along the Mt Roberts ridge stopping at the Lake Angelus Hut at about 1300' for a couple of nights. Unfortunately on the day of departure strong winds made the ridge risky (on the advice of DOC staff at the visitor centre). We did not have enough food for the longer 5-6 day Travers-Sabine circuit, nor perhaps the legs this early in our holiday, so hence this option. The Nelson Lakes region is not as popular as some of the other National Parks, perhaps because it is slightly out of the way. Make the effort, we loved the combination of high mountains, valleys, bush forest and lakes. We will be returning here - next time to do the full circuit.
DAY 1...to John Tait Hut
Windy, cloudy and sunny, more cloud and slight rain by late afternoon. Water Taxi up the lake (cost 60NZ dollars, max cost as there was only the two of us,boat takes up to 6). Choppy water. Saved a 3hr walk and we could leave the track for our return. Dropped off at head of lake, by pretty small Coldwater Bay hut in picturesque location. 5hr + walk up the valley, no climbing, beech forest and open areas. Good mountain views higher up. River in slight flood - had to follow flood diversion path for one crossing. Fresh snow on mountains above 1800' John Tait Hut(sleeps 36 - about 8 of us there), good location. Couple from Wellington - wife 'disabled' with nasty blister, they had been here 2 days waiting for it to heal, had cancelled their planned circuit trip.
Drop off at Coldwater Bay
John Tait Hut
DAY 2...trip to Cupola Hut
Mt Hopeless range
Cool, cloudy day, some brightness later. Day packs and a 2hr + walk up to Cupola Hut. Lovely small gorge and waterfalls, beech forest, Tomtits and fantails following us - one fantail landed briefly on Jo's outstretched walking pole. Steep and rocky to finish with. Hut(sleeps 6) in superb location - great mountain views, especially if you went and sat in the outside toilet - there was no door! Lunch stop and a wander around. DOC couple with transmitter searching for tagged Kaka's, without too much success. Should be 40+ in the area, only found one. Busier hut when we got back down. Israeli girl lit the stove, she was feeling the cold, which it wasn't. Result - we were sweltering and stripping off!
DAY 3...to Lake Head Hut
A beautiful sunny day and a very pleasant, leisurely 5hr walk down the valley to Lake Head Hut. Long swingbridge over the river. Mountains looking great with a slight snow covering. Rivers considerably down, no need for diversion this time. Reached hut by early afternoon, then relaxing time in the sunshine after a cleanup - previous occupants had not taken their rubbish out with them, burned some of it. Athletic couple from Christchurch - she (a runner) ran down to St Arnaud and back to get some toilet paper would you believe(as well as some other stuff).
Lake Head Hut
DAY 4...to St Arnaud
Cloudy start becoming sunnier and warmer. A 3hr lakeside walk, forest mainly.Path rough in places becoming easier. Lots of pleasant lakeside spots for a rest. Day shelter at the finish where we cooked lunch before returning to our accommodation at Yellow House Backpackers in St Arnaud - recommended.