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St Arnaud Range Walk

Home  »  South Island Walks  »  St Arnaud  »  St Arnaud Range Walk – Walk detail

The St Arnaud Range Track walk is quite hard, it’s uphill all the way through lovely beech forest to 1650m! It’ll take you around 5 hours to complete. This peak is the eighth wonder of New Zealand. On a clear day you can see for miles.

Quick Facts

        • Location: Northern end South Island
        • Distance: 5.55 kms
        • Time needed: 5 Hours
        • Difficulty: Hard
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: Double back
        • Elevation: 1787m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: Yes
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: Yes
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights

    The best views of the Nelson Lakes District without having to backpack in for days. Fantastic views of snow capped mountains, alpine tussock valleys and crystal clear lakes.

  • Track Quality

    Starts off with a well formed gravel track, followed by a bush track with lots of slippery tree roots to trip you up. There will be lots of surface water on the track after a day of heavy rain.

  • Hazards

    Strong very freezing winds on the top of the St Arnaud ridge.

  • Transport

    Buses run north to Nelson and south to Westport daily

  • Water

    From the Rotoiti camp ground

  • Driving Instructions

    St Arnaud is 103 km south of Blenheim on highway 63. As you drive into Blenheim from Picton, look for a roundabout with all the signs pointing to Nelson and St Arnaud. 7.3 km out is Woodbourne airbase, 10.1km is Renwick, drive straight ahead, do not follow the main road around to the right to Nelson. This is a beautiful drive to St Arnaud, the sealed road follows the crystal clear waters of the Wairau River for miles. Enjoy excellent views of the Richmond Range at 1756m and the Raglan Ranges at 2160m. Around 78.5 km you cross the new Wairau bridge. You are now within 11 km of St Arnaud. The Wairau River carries on for another 58 twisting km up into the 2086m of snow and rocky height of the Crimea Range. Don’t blink when you drive through St Arnaud or your will miss the town. Drive past the main shop. 100m ahead of you is the turn off to the Department of Conservation Visitor Center and Kerr Bay on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. At the lake front, take the road to the left, this will take you to the camp site and the start of the walking tracks.

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    In St Arnaud village

  • Area & Track History


  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of St Arnaud Range Walk

    Map of walk

Points of interest along the walk

In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.

Point 1: St Arnaud Range Walk – Start

First photo
1. Kerr Bay, start of the walk.
2. The main entrance to the campground.

Second photo
1. Parachute Rock
2. St Arnaud Range. 1683m
3. Best views. 1787m

At the start of the track there is a good information board for you to study. Follow the sign saying to more tracks.

Point 2: St Arnaud Range Walk

What can you say, the jewel of NZ. A beautiful alpine glacier lake, cool in the winter and hot in the summer. Take your pick of tramping, hunting, fishing, climbing, mountain biking, yachting and kayaking and that’s just in the summer time. Plus snowboarding and alpine climbing in the winter. Too much to do in one life time.

Point 3: St Arnaud Range Walk

Walk along the lake edge and up a slight incline to the first junction. Take the left hand track. You will have to look around the corner to see the next sign. St Arnaud range track and the honey dew loop track.

Point 4: St Arnaud Range Walk

At around 3 minutes you will be at the second junction. The sign pointing to the left will read, St Arnaud Range Track and Loop Track so take the track to the left. The track to the right is the honey dew track. From here its straight forward. Follow the orange triangular markers or tape nailed to the trees, this section of track was quite muddy in places. Mind you, it did rain all day yesterday.

Point 5: St Arnaud Range Walk

In about 20 minutes, you should meet up with the loop track which runs off to the right. The sign post was lying on the ground when we walked past. The next 100 m is a little confusing. Just followe the well worn track which runs up the right hand side of this stony creek and then across the Borlase stream. Once across the creek, the bush opens out and is very pleasant to walk. The track is very good to walk on. Not a lot of markers to follow, But you don’t really need then, this track is so well worn. You will know when you are getting close to the top. You might notice the change in the height of the trees. And the soft white moss hanging from the branches.

Point 6: St Arnaud Range Walk

2 hours 10 minutes, out onto the snow line. If you think this is a fantastic view, you ant seen nothing yet.
The bad news is, the next 20 minutes gets a little harder till you reach the top the St Arnaud Range.
There are a couple of track poles to follow, but just stick to the ridge line and you will be OK. I walked up here the day before thinking the rain will stop when I reach the top, yeah right! I had my head in the clouds while drinking my hot coffee. What a big difference it is today.

Point 7: St Arnaud Range Walk

About time, the outstanding view at the top will make you forget the aching muscles. It worked for me. I knew I brought my old bush jacket for a good reason, even if it is a little heavy. The St Arnaud ridge is very exposed to the cold southerly wind. I almost got blown off my feet on one of the narrow rocky sections.

Point 8: St Arnaud Range Walk

If you still have some steam left, you must walk further on up the St Arnaud ridge for another 15 minutes. There are no markers to follow but you don’t need them, just follow the ridge upto the next peak at 1787m. This peak is the eighth wonder of New Zealand. On a clear day you can see for miles. After another hot coffee and an energy bar, one large slice of chocolate mud cake, it’s off again. Yes, downhill all the way, fantastic! I started my walk back at 1300 hours and was enjoying a rejuvenating hot shower at 1730 hours, what a perfect day.

All walks in St Arnaud village…

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Contact info

St Arnaud 7072, New Zealand

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