Winter wonderland might be a surprising phrase to associate with Nelson Tasman but that’s what you’ll find just over an hour’s drive south from Nelson in the village of St Arnaud.
This popular spot is the perfect base to access the nearby Rainbow Ski Field, which offers a diverse selection of slopes and snow-based activities for all ages and skill levels. But if you’re not visiting in the winter, don’t worry, because St Arnaud has plenty to offer all year round. During the summer months, the Ski Area opens for hiking and mountain biking, so that you can still enjoy those stunning views out over the Nelson Lakes National Park even once the snow has melted away.
The 16 picturesque lakes that make up the Nelson Lakes National Park are undoubtedly the calling card for a visit to the village of St Arnaud, and many a visitor has been spotted capturing that iconic jetty shot at Lake Rotoiti. Māori tell the story of Rākaihautū, a great chief who created the lakes as he dug holes with his ko, or digging stick. One of these holes is what we now know as Lake Rotoroa (long lake) and the other is Lake Rotoiti (little lake). Lake Rotomairewhenua (also known as ‘Blue Lake’) has been officially named the clearest lake in the world, and is nestled amongst the stunning forests of the national park.
If outdoor adventures are what you’re looking for, Nelson Lakes is the place for you. Day walkers can enjoy leisurely lakeside walks, whilst more serious hikers can head off on a journey through alpine landscapes, glacial lakes, tarns, beech forests, and undulating valleys. Meanwhile, boating, water-skiing, fishing, swimming and kayaking are all popular activities for those who want to get amongst the water-based surroundings, although you’d have to be a hardy soul to jump off the wharf into Lake Rotoiti in winter!