St Arnaud Range Traverse

Waitangi Weekend

Five of us had a wonderful holiday weekend traversing the St Arnaud range in Nelson Lakes National Park. We climbed up a good track for 4 hours above the village of St Arnaud to reach the ridge. The first section is a long gentle zigzag through beautiful regenerating forest. As we climbed higher a group of noisy kaka chattering in the canopy high above attracted our attention. We lunched at Parachute Rock, just beyond the bushline, with expansive views over the lake and surrounding valleys. A determined final grunt up an unrelentingly steep tussock and scree face was rewarded with gorgeous alpine vistas as we crested the ridge.

This ridge gives easy access to extensive tarny basins and there is a track along it all the way to Rainbow skifield……with stoat traps all the way! Idyllic camping by the tarns made for a relaxed time in the evenings. We were very careful to make as little impact as possible on this precious environment. Day 2 was much easier. With light day packs and we explored along towards the Rainbow end in beautiful summer weather, stopping often to enjoy the experience of just being there. A refreshing dip in the surprisingly warm tarn and a quiet read by the tent completed a superb day in the hills. Next morning we made an early start to avoid building winds, retracing our route back to the village. All agreed this had been a marvellous tramp, exploring new territory and feeling lucky everything was in our favour.

We were: Diane Mellish (leader), Sue Piercey, Peter Umbers, Norman Burden, Alison Maccoll. (DM)