Drive about a 4.5 hours north of Christchurch and you will find the magnificent Nelson Lakes National Park. Nestled among the alps halfway between the east and west coast is a region of lush forest and bright turquoise mountain lakes and rivers. My second Easter here was welcomed with another wonderful 3 day, demanding yet beautiful tramp.
We began near Lake Rotoiti (above), on Mt Robert Road, where we took the Speargrass Track past the Speargrass Hut all the way to Lake Sabine. Due to the long drive up, we didn’t start walking until 1pm and pushed the supposed 8 hour walk down to 6.5 to try and set up camp before the sun went down. We camped next to the hut and fought off the miserable sand flies as best we could.
First glimpse as we descend into Lake Sabine
Our tent next to the Sabine Hut
Though a beautiful view over the water, the ‘black plague’ definitely detracted from the experience. We got in the tent (and took off in the morning) pretty much as fast as we could. If anyone can tell me a sandfly repellent that actually works, you’ll be my hero forever.
The next morning was met with the most difficult stretch of trail I have ever encountered. We gained over 1km in altitude in just about 2km of distance, most of it scrambling up rocky and root-y mountainside forest. The trail description reads “This is a very steep route…” and this, my friends, is an understatement. I can run for hours without getting tired, but throw a pack on my back and make me climb practically straight up the side of a mountain and I’m seriously sucking wind (there may or may not have been tears involved). Though it wasn’t yet the top, what a relief it was to finally reach the bushline!
And as usual, the views only kept getting better from there, as we continued on to the top of Mt Cedric.
We continued along the ridgeline up and down and up to a max of roughly 1800m before beginning a boulder hopping descent to Lake Angelus at 1650m. Some nasty wind and rain mixed with hail and thunder made the last hour of the days’ walk a bit daunting, but this made the first sighting of the hut doubly amazing.
We made tea and played cards as we warmed up and rode out the storm. It cleared up quite nicely and we were able to camp outside after all!
(These boots are amazing, by the way. Ahnu for the win.)
The final morning began with another rock scramble out of the crater, but in decent weather it was a lot more fun.
The giant’s footprint!
We had a beautiful (and very exposed) 4.5 hour walk (including a mountaintop lunch) along the Robert Ridge Route all the way out to the car.
The gratifying (but somewhat disappointing) descent back down to Lake Rotoiti
And the beautiful Maruia Falls for a picnic dinner about halfway home along the drive
Another adventure for the books. Keep em coming please!