7 Best Things to Do in St Arnaud

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What to Do in St Arnaud, the Gateway to the Nelson Lakes

Welcome to the Nelson Tasman’s cute little alpine village and gateway to the Nelson Lakes National Park: St Arnaud. The landscape shaped by glaciers is a stunning place to stay awhile, making the most of it by hitting the hiking trails or jumping on a lake boat tour. There’s something here for the adventure enthusiasts, whether it’s mountain biking on the epic MTB trails just outside of town or hitting the local ski field in winter. For those days where the weather isn’t playing ball, you can always rely on the local art galleries and museum for entertainment. Discover what you could be getting up to with this list of things to do in St Arnaud.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in the 10 Nelson Must-Dos and Mountain Biking in Nelson Tasman.

1. Go for a Hike in the Nelson Lakes National Park

On the shores of Lake Rotoiti, St Arnaud is the gateway to the Nelson Lakes National Park and its myriad of hiking trails. Choose from easy-going walks from West Bay like the Black Hill Walk (1h30min return) climbing through stunning beech forest or walk over the debris of a glacier on the Morain Walk (1h30min return). From Kerr Bay, look out for birds on the Bellbird Walk (15 minutes) or make it a longer outing on the Honeydew Walk (45 minutes).

Location: Mt Robert Road and Kerr Bay Road©

2. Get a Photo on the Lake Rotoiti Jetty

Lake Rotoiti is full of photo opportunities, but the most famous view across the Nelson Lakes National Park is from the jetty at Kerr Bay. Snap up the landscape, feed the eels and watch the black swans.

Location: Kerry Bay Road©

3. Visit the Classic Boat Museum

Sure there are plenty of car museums in New Zealand, but if you’re more of a boatie then you might have just found paradise. Check out the Classic Boat Museum located right here in St Arnaud. See beautifully restored classics in a collection including racing hydroboats, classic jetboats, steamboats, mahogany runabouts and more! The museum is open daily by donation.

Location: Beechnest Drive

Classic Boat Museum© Classic Boat Museum

4. Check Out the Local Art Galleries

St Arnaud is home to a creative community, some of which have their work on display. See paintings of the local landscapes and wildlife at the Korimako Studio. Or pick up local souvenirs from the Clinker Cafe & Range View Gift Shop.

Location: Korimako Studio – 10 Rangeview Road, Clinker Cafe – Beechnest Drive.

Pexels © Pexels

5. Go Mountain Biking at the Teetotal Recreational Area

Riders, don’t miss the Teetotal Mountain Bike Tracks just outside of St Arnaud. The Teetotal Recreational Area is essentially a mountain bike park with tracks to suit all abilities. Try the easy Skating Pond Loop (4.2km/2.6-mile loop), a more challenging ride like Flying Moa (2.6km/1.6-mile one way) or an advanced downhill blast on the Duck Down Track (2.5km/1.5-mile one way).

Location: Signposted off State Highway 63, 1.5km (0.9 miles) west of St Arnaud

pxhere© pxhere

6. Take a Boat Trip Around Lake Rotoiti

Join Rotoiri Water Taxis for a day on the lake, whether it’s a trip to highlights on the lake like Whiskey Falls or the Head of the Lake. The water taxi service can also transport you to and from secluded day hikes in the Nelson Lakes National Park and offers guided fishing all year round.

Location: contact Rotoiti Water Taxis.

John Reason on Wikipedia© John Reason on Wikipedia

7. Go Skiing at the Rainbow Ski Area

St Arnaud is one of the main hubs for the winter season for those looking to hit the slopes of the Rainbow Ski Area. The ski field is usually open July to early October, depending on the snow, and has facilities such as ski/board rentals, lessons, a shuttle bus and cafe. The ski field has stunning lake and mountain views. Learn more about this ski field and others in The 24 Ski Fields in New Zealand.

Location: Rainbow Road, State Highway 63, 34km (21 miles) south of St Arnaud.

Pixabay © Pixabay

More Things to Do Near St Arnaud

That’s it for the best things to do in St Arnaud. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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