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Located in the Tasman (Nelson) District on the main route (State Highway 63) between Marlborough and the West Coast at the northern tip of the South Island's Southern Alps, Wairau Pass is in the midst of spectacular scenery and close to a multitude of recreational opportunities.

The Wairau Saddle itself was carved by one of the glaciers that emanated eastward from what is now the Travers Valley on the western side of the Alps, and which also created the two major lakes of Rotoiti (“small lake”) and Rotoroa (“long lake'). The Rainbow Valley and Nelson Lakes National park (and the village of St Arnaud, 9 kilometres away) lie to the south of Wairau Pass B&B; to the east, the Wairau Valley (and Blenheim/Picton); and to the north, Mt Richmond Forest Park and the road to Nelson (via Tophouse).

The main towns in the Top of the South Island, Nelson and Blenheim (both about one hour away from Wairau Pass) annually vie for the title of “Sunshine Capital” of Aotearoa/New Zealand. So, Wairau Pass, being in the sub-alpine area as well, experiences the full joy of extremes of weather both warm and cool – and wet and windy! These opportunities include:

  • Great hiking tracks and routes (click to go to Walks), from short strolls around Lake Rotoiti or Lake Rotoroa – the gems of Nelson Lakes National Park - day walks to Beeby's Knob or Red Hills (did you know that the Red Hills were once in Southland? Ask Helen about it!) in Mt Richmond Forest Park to multi-day backpack trekking.
  • Trout fishing in the Lakes, Buller River and Wairau River
  • Kayaking, scenic boat trips, canoeing at Rotoiti and Rotoroa
  • Mountain biking – Rainbow Valley, Redhills, Beeby's Knob. Several annual sporting events also focus on this area – the Rainbow Rage to Hamner Springs (February), the Source to the Sea (November)
  • Other great events including the Seresin Classic Boat Show, the Power Boat Regatta (usually March) on Rotoiti
  • 4 wheel/off road access to Beeby's Knob and Red Hills (with prior landowner permission); Porika Track; Rainbow Valley Road/Molesworth, Mt Patriarch etc
  • Winter opportunities include ski-ing, tobogganing , and snow boarding at Rainbow Ski field in at Six Mile in Rainbow Valley, ski-touring at Mt Robert, ice skating at the open pond at Teetotal (free! - but you will need to have/hire skates)
  • Botanising, bird watching, photography, geology, history (including the Museum/history collection at the Rotoiti Community Hall), sightseeing
  • Gold panning in the Howard valley – New, Louis, Maggie & Maud Creeks
  • For wine connoisseurs - visits to wineries and vineyards in the Wairau Valley

Click to go to Facilities & Services

Click to go to Local Area Information



www.doc.govt.nz - Department of Conservation
www.organicexplorer.com - Green Travel Guide to NZ
www.nelsonlakesnationalpark.co.nz - Nelson Lakes Promotion Group
www.tophouse.co.nz - Tophouse