Alpine Wilderness Playground - Nelson Lakes National Park
Take a scenic drive from Nelson to the picturesque alpine village of St Arnaud and nearby Lake Rotoiti. It is the gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park (102,000ha) and to a winter playground at Rainbow Ski Area, Nelson's closest ski field. Further down the highway from Nelson, Murchison is the southern gateway to Kahurangi National Park. Murchison is a farming community that lies beside the deep green Buller River, which flows from Lake Rotoiti to the West Coast.
PopulationSt Arnaud 200, Murchison 750.
Getting AroundShuttle transportation services to St Arnaud and Murchison from Nelson and Blenheim. Heading South to Christchurch from Nelson? Stop at Murchison for a refreshing bite to eat and stretch your legs.
Exploring OutdoorsThe beech forests in the Nelson Lakes around Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa resound to the chorus of native birds. A network of walking tracks allow visitors to explore the lake edges and forest. On signs around the area read about the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Programme which aims to restore native kaka, kakariki, bush robins, giant snails, lizards and bats.
AmbienceNelson Lakes is rugged, rural, alpine New Zealand. Experience the timelessness of the mountains, the unspoilt lakes and the Buller River’s awesome rapids.
ArtsA growing number of artists are being attracted to the Nelson Lakes area. You’ll find paintings, sculptures and arts and crafts by local and New Zealand artists.
Murchison has an increasing number of galleries and cafes, though is still a small New Zealand town.
Action and AdventureVisit St Arnaud for picnics, bird watching, boating, swimming, bush walks and to see the start of the annual Rainbow Rage mountain bike race, all just an hour and a half from Nelson. Both Lakes Rotoroa and Rotoiti are each renowned for brown trout fishing. Murchison and surrounding areas also offer excellent trout fishing, whitewater rafting, jet boating, extreme trekking and mountain biking. The Owen River, 17km north of Murchison, was immortalised in the film Lord of the Rings. Skiing; July – September is offered at Rainbow Ski Area.
AccommodationTucked away in this picturesque area from St Arnaud to Murchison are luxury lodges, holiday homes, motels, home stay, bed and breakfasts, backpackers and camping grounds.
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