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Local Area Information

Wairau pass is part of the ancient Pounamu (Greenstone) trail, traversed by Maori trading the treasured Pounamu of the West Coast.

European settlement followed the survey expeditions of Heaphy, Spooner, Cotterill and Brunner. The Pass lies at the Northern extreme of the mighty Southern Alps, 9 kilometres from Lake Rotoiti ("Small Lake").


St. Arnaud is a small sub-alpine village located at the edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park, 119kms south of Nelson in the South Island of Aotearoa / New Zealand. The natural beauty and recreational opportunities attract many thousands of visitors annually.

Being sub-alpine, extremes of temperature are experienced: 30C in Summer to -5C in winter with the occasional snowfalls. Be prepared for unseasonable weather at all times.

School, petrol, community centre, hotel, postal service, chapel, general store, public telephone, outdoor education centre, ice skating pond, water taxi, backpackers, B&Bs, homestays, restaurant, café and DOC information centre.

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Nelson Lakes National Park:
This national park was established in 1956 based around the two glacial formed lakes of Rotoiti and Rotoroa. The park was extended in 1988 and now covers some 102,000 hectares of protected beech forest and alpine ecosystems.

Within the National Park, beside the village, is an area of 5000 hectares which is managed as the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project. The project has three goals which work together to achieve the vision of ecosystem restoration. They are:

  • To reduce introduced pest numbers so that native species recover.
  • To re-introduce species lost from the area.
  • To advocate for indigenous species conservation and long term control.

This mainland island comprises approximately 825ha of predominantly red, silver and mountain beech forest, and is situated alongside Lake Rotoiti within Nelson Lakes National Park. Honeydew beech forests can support large numbers of native birds: the honeydew scale insect provides an energy source for nectar-feeding birds, and the sporadic and intense beech seed production ("masting") provides food for large numbers of seed-eating birds. As well as the honey eaters, the forests are full of birds like tomtits, robins and the tiny rifleman, New Zealand's smallest bird. South Island kaka are also present.

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Department of Conservation Contacts
Nelson Lakes Visitors Centre
Phone: 03 521 1806
Email: starnaudao@doc.govt.nz
Address: View Road, St Arnaud
Postal Address: PO Box 55, St Arnaud

Rainbow Valley
Originally the coach route to Christchurch via Hanmer Springs, this is now a popular 4WD, wilderness driving scenic route. The road crosses private land, requiring a toll to be paid (further information available). Access to legendary Molesworth Station is 8km before Hanmer.

Tophouse - www.tophouse.co.nz

Equipment Hire
Skis, toboggans, snow boards and gear: Rainbow www.skirainbow.co.nz or seasonal phone: 03 521 1861; snow phone: 083 222 605.
Kayaks, canoes, rowboat: Rotoiti Water Taxis phone 03 521 1894
(at Kerr Bay Dec/Jan).
Mountain bikes / Ice skates / Snow chain hire: Nelson Lakes Village Store phone 03 521 1854 or www.alpinestore.co.nz
Fishing equipment: Rotoiti Water Taxis phone 03 521 1894

On demand transport: Nelson Lakes Shuttles phone 03 521 1900 or email info@nelsonlakesshuttle.co.nz 
Water taxi service: Rotoiti Water Taxis phone 03 521 1894 (Lake Rotoiti) or email watertaxi@clear.net.nz
Scenic cruises/guided walks:
-Rotoiti Water Taxis phone 03 521 1894
Troutwise Women (tuition and equipment) www.troutwisewomen.co.nz
-Get Down Under Tours / Creative Adventures phone 021 166 3293 or www.creativeadventuresnz.com or email info@creativeadventuresnz.com

Eventing Highlights
January: Philip Wareing Memorial MultiSport event www.nelsontriclub.co.nz
February: Rotoiti Power Boat Regatta; Jet Boat Regatta; Murchison A&P Show www.nzclassicboats.com
March: Seresin Antique & Classic Boat Show; Buller Whitewater Festival; Rainbow Rage www.rainbowrage.co.nz (mountain-bike to Hanmer Springs).
April: Alpine Lodge "Loop the Lake" www.coolrunning.co.nz.

June through to October: Rainbow Ski season events: go to www.skirainbow.co.nz;
seasonal phone: 03 521 1861; snow phone: 083 222 605
November: "Source to the Sea" cycle race www.sourcetosea.co.nz

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