97 Days on the Road
Can you believe our time in the Abel Tasman has finally come to an end?! It has been so action-packed that the last few days have just flown by. We have hiked to a backcountry hut in the “Promised Land” of the Abel Tasman, seen the largest shag colonies and kayaked under rocky archways on the Golden Bay side of the Abel Tasman, really got to know the ecosystem with a hiking, beach-hopping and boat tour with Abel Tasman Eco Tours, and yesterday we ended with kayaking, water taxi and hiking part of the Abel Tasman Great Walk.
It’s been epic, but we have to leave to continue our adventure to the Nelson Lakes National Park! So we are leaving The Barn Backpackers in Marahau and hitting the road to St Arnaud.
We don’t leave The Barn until midday, as we have so much work to catch up on. (Did we mention how epic and busy the last few days were)?
An uneventful pitstop
Motueka is our pitstop for groceries and the pharmacy. Robin is experiencing the downside of spending so much time in the Abel Tasman National Park, which is sandflies. Not only has he been bitten to death, but he is also allergic to the bites. A bite on his finger is swelling as we speak, so he gets some cream and soldiers on.
Enough about those pesky sandflies! We are going to the mountains and the lakes!
Travelling through the pine forests
We travel in our oversized campervan surrounded by hills and pine forests. We could be forgiven for thinking we are driving in a completely different country right now with towering pines and snowy mountains in the distance. The snowy mountains mark the beginning of the Southern Alps, the mountain range that most people believe to be the most beautiful part of New Zealand.
Welcome to St Arnaud
The pine forests fizzle away and now we are in a landscape of green fields as we enter St Arnaud. The town is the main hub for hikes and activities in the Nelson Lakes National Park. It’s a small sleepy town in winter, so much so that the accommodation we are staying in is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during winter. There is a map and a note on the front door window of the Alpine Lodge to guide us to our room.
Now that we have our room sorted, we can head to the most popular lake of the national park, Lake Rotoiti.
Taking our token tourist photo at Lake Rotoiti
Lake Rotoiti is at the very edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park and a quick walk from St Arnaud. As we walk down to the huge car park for the lake, the view opens up with the lake stretching all the way to snow-capped mountains in the distance. It looks beautiful!
First things first, we need to get our token photo of the end of the jetty. It’s a photo everyone takes when travelling the South Island, as it’s so easy to access, the views are incredible, and it has “New Zealand” written all over it. We set up the camera and do some jumping shots at the end of the jetty. Should we be ashamed? Yes, we should. Are we ashamed? Hell no!
A French couple even ask if we can take the same photos of them. See, you have to do it!
Being stalked by swans
Now that we have got the photo out of the way, we can enjoy all the wildlife Lake Rotoiti has to offer! We know this part of the lake is usually a tourist hotspot (except, it is pretty quiet right now… Shoulder season, bitches)! so that explains why we are being followed around expectedly by a couple of black swans. Clearly, they get a lot of food at the jetty.
Eels! So many eels!
We look down into the water and Oh My God! There are hundreds of huge eels squirming over each other and around the poles of the jetty. Through the clear water we can see even the faces of the eels complete with curling teeth!
The sexiest duck we’ve ever seen
So swans, eels… There are a few ducks, whatever… Then we spot the most flamboyant duck ever! Man, its feathers are all sticking out in different but symmetrical directions. White head, orange feathers, and it seems to have a mane of puffy feathers around its neck. What the hell is this duck?! Have a look at the photo and explain this to us!
We hear the many calls of tui and other birds in the surrounding the forests but the sun is going down too quickly for us to start a forest walk right now.
The Lake Rotoiti jetty you didn’t know existed
There is one section of the lake that is not cast in shadow though, and that is the other jetty…
“What? There is another jetty at Lake Rotoiti?” We hear you cry at your computer/phone screen. Yes, only a few hundred metres down the lake is another jetty that looks just like the “original jetty” but we guess this is the less-crowded one. Shall we take a photo? Yes, let’s take a photo…
Kicking back at Alpine Lodge
Ok, we have had enough time self-indulging in photos and beautiful landscapes. Now we are heading back to the Alpine Lodge to relax. We really need it after these super busy days.
Tomorrow, we are checking out the other big lake in the Nelson Lakes, Lake Rotoroa. We’ll probably have time to actually do a hike there. So, see you then!
A fresh perspective of that Lake Rotoiti Token Tourist Photo!
That’s awesome! Check out these articles to keep you going!
- Nelson Lakes National Park – Guide for Backpackers
- 10 Token Tourist Photos You Have to Take in the South Island
- 10 Nelson Tasman Must-Dos
See you tomorrow!