Nelson Lakes Area

Nelson lakes is only a short 1.5hr drive from Nelson or Blenheim.  St Arnaud is the main township and the gate way to the lakes area, here you will find accommodation, eatery's and a fantastically set up information center. The information centre it's self is well worth a visit, you can see and read all about the local area from flora to fora to all the local wild life. You can also get all your doc hut passes here for the area. 

The two main lakes are called Lake Rotoiti - the most commonly used lake and also Lake Rotoroa.  There is also the stunning Blue lake, the transparency of the water at blue lake reaches 80 metres making it appear to have different sections of blue and green colours. But you can only access Blue Lake by doing the mammoth 4-7 day Travers-Sabine Circuit. An 80km journey through beech forest, tussock fields, clear streams and towering mountains. 


Nelson lakes has a very rich history, 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).  

There is so much you can do around the lakes district, you can explore the lake front and experience the beautiful waters of Lake Rotoiti by kayak or boat, jumping off the jetty which is one of the most Instagram photographed jetty's in NZ.

If you want to do a bush walk their are an abundance of walks in the area ranging from short 15min strolls to multi day back country adventures. Nelson Lakes National Park contains over 20 Department of Conservation huts, so there is plenty to explore in the area.


Nelson lakes area is stunning in both summer and winter, in winter the area receives a great snow fall and is the perfect wee spot for kids to have a play in the snow for the first time.  It is also the home of Rainbow Ski Field.

The only ski field in the Nelson Marlborough area, located on the eastern side of the St Arnaud range and reaching a height of over 1760 metres. Rainbow is a spectacular alpine environment and great for families. 

What ever your adventure is - Nelson lakes is a great spot for family's to explore and enjoy. 

Nelson Lakes Walks 

Activity Type
Place Name
Kiwi Guardian

Nelson Lakes Attractions