Day 12: Glamping in Nelson Lakes

After 11 days on the road we started running out of everything. Fridge battery was down, there was no water in the sink and we only had one clean pair of socks left, not to mention the mountain of plates that needed immediate attention. It was a clear sign that we needed to stop on a proper campground and do some maintenance work. Our next dot of the map was Nelson Lakes National Park only about 100km south of Abel Tasman Park. Lonely Planet said there was a campground right on the shore of one of the lakes with all the amenities imaginable. We got up early and headed there. It turned out to be the best choice ever. The campground had bathrooms, hot showers, laundry and a big kitchen. Plus, all the walking tracks started right there. A paradise! We left the van to feed on energy and went to hike all day.

Nelson Lakes National Park has two major lakes – Rotoiti and Rotoroa. We stayed at Rotoiti and it is there where St Arnaud Range Track starts. It is considered one of NZ best one-day tracks and also one of the most strenuous. We can confirm both facts. It was only 14km, but took 5 hours because it was a very steep 7km up the hill. The first 2 hours were ok, up the hill, but fairly gradual and in the forest. It was the last half an hour from Parachute Rocks to the peak that was a killer. It was a bare slope at 70 degree angle with a path covered in small rocks that slipped away from under the feet. To cheer myself up I counted poles on the track, the problem was the higher we went more of them were appearing round the corner. At the start of the track we were betting on how many people we would meet on the peak. I said less than 5, Ale said more than 5. I won. There was not a single person on the peak nor anywhere on the horizon. We got there breathing heavily and straining our calves to the limits, but the reward was enormous. Forget the view of the lake, what lied on the other side of the mountain was a real treasure. Snow-topped peaks, mountain range all around us and little green lakes dotted here and there.

This is why I love mountains so much. There is always the other side to discover and there is always a prize for the effort, be it a marvelous view or just a good nights sleep. And we had all of that breath-taking panorama to ourselves. When we got back down our feet were pulsing from effort and heat, but a walk in Rotoiti lake cured everything. Oh dear how glad we were that there were hot showers on hand’s reach. We never needed them more. Only after the shower and hot tea we were able to get cracking with cooking, washing and laundry and as we were doing that, the sun was slowly setting over the lake and mountains in the distance. Priceless.








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