The Allure of St Arnaud / Lake Rotoiti
Just one hour (85km) from Nelson, one and a quarter hours from Blenheim (100km) and 35 minutes (40km) from Murchison, the village of St. Arnaud is the gateway to the Nelson Lakes National Park (102,000 ha).
At approximately 640m above sea level, the village is encircled by snow-capped mountain ranges and nestled in native beech forest. It is situated on the edge of Lake Rotoiti, one of the two large lakes (the other is Lake Rotoroa) for which the National Park is named.
St Arnaud / Lake Rotoiti and the surrounding Nelson Lakes National Park
Lake Rotoiti and the Nelson Lakes National Park area offer a very wide range of recreational activities.
Walks and Hikes
If you want to appreciate our spectacular scenery and plentiful birdlife on foot, take a leisurely stroll along the many well-formed, marked tracks beside and around the shore of Lake Rotoiti. Tranquil bush walks include the Honeydew Walk, which begins at the lake edge and meanders through sun-filtered beech forest. This walk takes approximately 30-45 minutes and suits most levels of fitness.
The Loop Track is a longer picturesque walk (1-1.5 hours) which starts from the Honeydew Walk and circles up into the beech forest and back onto the main lake track.
If you’d like to try a couple of longer tramps/hikes, take the St Arnaud Range track up to Parachute Rocks; enjoy spectacular views along the Mt Robert Circuit; or follow the Lakeside Track along the western bank of Lake Rotoiti to Whisky Falls (allow a full day for each).
For the ultimate challenge, trek the Travers-Sabine Circuit with a detour to see the world’s clearest fresh water at Blue Lake (4-9 days depending on side trips), or explore the rugged wilderness of the park along its many other tracks and routes.
The lakes and surrounding rivers are home to some of the best brown trout fishing that New Zealand has to offer.
Native bird life flourishes around Lake Rotoiti and the village of St Arnaud, thanks to the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project “The Mainland Island” and the dedicated "Friends of Rotoiti" volunteers. This pest eradication strategy was launched by the Department of Conservation (DOC) in February 1997 and covers more than 5,000 ha. Kiwi and other native birds have been re-introduced to the area.
You can see and hear our native birds and their song at it's best (including tui, weka, bellbirds, robins, morepork, and many others) throughout the forest and around St Arnaud.
Water skiing, wake-boarding and rowing on Lake Rotoiti; canoeing, kayaking or river rafting the mighty Buller River; white water rafting in Murchison (45 minute drive); swimming (in summer!); special events days such as the annual Antique and Classic Boat Show and the Waka Ama Regatta.
Mountain biking and cycling
There are many mountain bike tracks in the Teetotal Recreational Area. Beebys Knob, approximately 8km from St Arnaud at the eastern end of Tophouse Rd, is another popular bike trail. the MTB Trails trust members are busy upgrading and forming new trail around st Arnaud Two mountain bikes are available for your use at St Arnaud House. with the big bush and Beebys knob tracks nearly ready for this season, further afield tracks like the old ghost road, approx one and a half hours away.
Numerous cycle races start at St Arnaud, most notably the “Source to the Sea” and the “Rainbow Rage”.
Deer, chamois, wild pigs, and rabbits can all be found in the Nelson Lakes National Park and surrounding areas.
Rainbow Ski area is approximately 30 - 40 minutes drive from St Arnaud house.
Public gold panning areas in the Nelson Lakes area include Louis and New Creeks.
Trial Flight Vouchers can be purchased from the Nelson Lakes Gliding Club. These give a trial flight for up to 15 minutes, normally from Lake Station Airfield. The vouchers are also an ideal gift for anyone interested in flying or adventure sports. The club usually runs an annual open weekend on the same dates as the Antique and Classic Boat Show (generally in March) at Lake Rotoiti.
For more details, visit the Gliding Club website: http://www.glidingnelson.co.nz/Nelson_Lakes_Gliding_Club/Contact.html or phone 0800 GLIDING (wait for the answer phone message for details of the day’s flying).
St Arnaud House is within one hour's scenic drive to both Nelson and Blenheim. Spend a day touring the Nelson or Marlborough wineries or visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre near Blenheim.