· Time: 6 - 8 days
· Grade: Medium / Fit
· Higest point: 1770 m
· Island: South
· Location: Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park
Lakes National Park has something to offer everyone. Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa
offers pleasant camping, good fishing and boating. With its various valleys
and mountain passes, it provides a range of tramps/day walks for fitness levels
ranging from easy to challenging. However, if you've never crossed an alpine
pass, this is a good place to start. The tracks are both well-sign posted
and well-benched. The views are picture-postcard perfect.
Travers Sabine Circuit
St Arnaud to Lake Head Hut (9km-2.5hrs-3hrs)
Starting from Kerr Bay camping ground, the Lake Head Track sidles the eastern
side of Lake Rotoiti. The start of the track is quite literally a walk in
first km is a wide and easy path until it meets the Loop Track junction. The
next 4 km follows a well-beaten path through red, silver and black beech forest
winding along Lake Rotoiti. Having passed two clearings which offer good views
of first the north and then the southern side of the lake, Lake Head Hut (36
bunks) is situated on a pleasant grassy bank overlooking the mouth of Travers
River. This spot is popular not only for day walkers but also for trout fishing.
Alternatively, you may want to lay yourself to rest at the older and more
romantic Coldwater Hut (6 bunks) which is only 800m away. Those with less
time or energy can take a water taxi from St Arnaud to the jetty which is
about 200m away from Lake Head Hut.
Lake Head Hut to John Tait Hut
Signs will direct you along the left side of the river over wide grass flats
for 3km/1hr. The track now returns to bush before meeting the river and footbridge
after a further km/20 minutes. Heading south up the west bank, the forest
hugs the river for another 3.5km. Mt Travers, standing at 2338m, looms ahead
dominating the horizon and inspiring your progress. You will pass through
beech and grassy flats until you meet the footbridge crossing Hopeless Creek.
On the far side, signs will direct you either toward Hopeless Hut (2 1/2hrs)
or John Tait (2 hrs/5kms). The track now follows a gradual slope through enclosed
forest until you emerge into a small, grassy clearing. John Tait Hut (36 bunks),
is a pretty spot sitting close to river and providing a good view of the mountain
John Tait Hut to Upper Travers Hut
The incline now begins to steepen as you make your way along the track. After
1km/20 mins the track meets a junction to Cupola Basin and then crosses a
footbridge. Another 1km/20 mins later, you will pass a sign directing you
toward the Travers Waterfall. It's only 3 minutes away and would be a crime
to skip. The waterfall thunders down impressively into a clear pool of mossy
this stage, the track is now rooty and climbs over the Summit Creek footbridge.
After another 2km/40mins you will cross to the east side of the Travers River
over another footbridge. You will now continue climbing through thick mountain
beech to the bush line where your efforts will be rewarded with the sight
of the Travers and St Arnaud ranges. Upper Travers Hut is a picturesque hut
on the alpine margin surrounded by gravel and scree slopes which offer easy
climbing for better views.
Upper Travers Hut to West Sabine Hut
It's an off-beaten track up the Travers Saddle which is nonetheless well-marked
with rock cairns and snow poles. You will zig-zag up tussock slopes and large
boulders for 2km/2-3hrs until you reach the pass. The sight from the Saddle
itself will take your breath away with 360 degree views of peaks and valleys.
begins tranquilly enough over tussock slopes and boulders until you reach
the end of the bush. the track now descends into a steep scree covered gully.
It's easier to make your own route as there's less slide than on the track
itself. Keep a sharp eye out for the cairn marking the track at the treeline.
You will cross a footbridge to the sound of water approximately 30m into the
river. It's only 3m wide and so deep and dark that you will not be able to
see the water. After one last steep descent, the track now heads south. Having
crossed a footbridge, you will find the West Sabine Hut (35 bunks) .
West Sabine Hut to Sabine Hut
The track starts from the swing bridge over the West Sabine River. It's a
walk along the west bank of the lake for the next 7km until the track emerges
onto a grassy flat which continues for another 2kms. You will then cross a
swing bridge over a lovely little gorge. This is also a lovely, swimming spot
shared with the trout who are often to be found chilling in the shade of the
rocks. From here, it's a mere 2km/40mins to the spacious Sabine Hut (36 bunks).
This newly-built hut overlooks Lake Rotoroa. There's also a jetty here and
a taxi-service is provided via a telephone in the hut. This is another great
place to swim.
Sabine Hut to Speargress Hut
This track was built as an alternative to the more arduous track to Mt Angelus
which may fall foul to bad weather conditions. From Sabine Hut the track heads
north along the lake and past the junction to Mt Angelus. This was once the
Howard Hut route and passes through beech forest. 2kms/2hrs along the way,
you will come to a good-looking wet-land saddle. There are three streams to
be crossed; the Cedric, Tier and Hodgson. There's a fair bit of ups and downs
although the greater part of the track is boardwalked. The track branches
off to the right, heading southeast to the Speargrass Hut (6 bunks) which
is to be found in a grassy clearing.
Speargress Hut to Mount Robert Car Park(2.5 hrs)
The track slopes gently down to Speargrass Creek. Having crossed a footbridge,
you will continue along the bush valley before descending gently to a creek.
The track then climbs leisurely for about 1.5km/30mins to Robert Ridge car
park. Unless you've got transport, it will take a further 5km/1hr to reach