Roaming Down Under

Lake Rotoiti

A large glacial lake among the forest and mountains of the Nelson Lakes National Park

In the north end of New Zealand's south island sits the Nelson Lakes National Park. Inside this beautiful park, which includes the northernmost parts of New Zealand's alps, lies Lake Rotoiti. You won't find much development here, nor many overseas visitors, but what you do find is a gorgeous glacial lake surrounded by charming beech forest and peaks which are snowcapped in winter. If boating, fishing, hiking or just relaxing near a nice lake are on the agenda, Lake Rotoiti has much to offer.

Lake Rotoiti, New Zealand, and jetty in a light snowfall

Lake Rotoiti and jetty in a light snowfall

The lake's name means little waters, even though it is not little, and I believe it's pronounced something like roe-toe-itty. The only town in the area is the tiny village of St Arnaud, and for those who like unspoiled environments, the absence of man-made alterations is a plus. St Arnaud has some basic accommodation including campgrounds, and a water taxi service, but apart from that doesn't intrude on nature. The star of the show is Lake Rotoiti, and the mountains and forest surrounding it.

I've written about St Arnaud on another page, but felt that Lake Rotoiti was worth highlighting on its own. It has a different feel to the large lakes further south, which are not as densely forested (with the exception of nearby Lake Rotoroa). My photos don't really do the lake justice, but give a taste of how it looks from the St Arnaud end in winter.

I would have loved to have visited the other end of the lake too, but the excellent skiing conditions at nearby Rainbow Valley dragged me away from the lake for much of my stay. However, the prospect of a journey to the lake's far end by day-hike or water taxi (or a combination of both) gives me a good excuse to return some day to the lovely Lake Rotoiti.

An imperfect panorama of Lake Rotoiti from the north end at Kerr Bay, New Zealand

An imperfect panorama of Lake Rotoiti from the north end at Kerr Bay. Rainbow Valley ski area is just over the range on the left; Mt Robert is to the right.

A short video

These moving pictures portray the lake in sunny conditions, at dusk, and in snow.
Music: Sonata #1 in A by Niccolo Paganini