The 102,000 hectare Nelson Lakes National Park is centred on two lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa, and St Arnaud, a beautiful alpine village.
There are lakeside tracks and short walks, as well as safe swimming and boating, with skiing, ski touring and alpine climbing in winter. A circuit of Lake Rotoiti can be walked in about eight hours. This walk also takes in the Whisky Falls and Travers River, which has a swing bridge.
A network of walking tracks allow visitors to explore the lake edges and forest in this stunning area. Make sure you visit the mainland island, created in 1997 by DOC as part of the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project which has seen kiwi reintroduced to the area after over 50 years.
The project involves intensive pest control to protect native species such as kaka, kakariki, bush robins, giant snails, lizards and bats, and increase their abundance.
The call of the kiwi can now be heard again at night around the shores of the lake thanks to the project. Four years ago there were no kiwi living by Lake Rotoiti; in fact the last reliable record of kiwi in the area was in the early 1920s.
In 2004 great spotted kiwi (roroa) were moved from another Nelson Tasman National Park – Kahurangi – to the mainland island, with further numbers introduced in 2006. Sadly Te Matau, one of the original great spotted kiwi to be moved here, was killed by a dog in 2015. Remember, dogs are not allowed in the park. By November 2015 there were 29 kiwi here.
What to do
- Do the walk around Lake Rotoiti
- Go boating on one of the lakes
- Go mountain climbing - if you’re an experienced climber
- Visi the mainland island for a glimpse of kiwis
- Take a trip to Rainbow Ski area in winter